How to Become a Licensed Counselor in Pennsylvania

How Do I Become a Counselor in Pennsylvania?

Individuals who feel compelled to assist others and improve lives may thoroughly enjoy a career in counseling. Pennsylvania is a great state to study and practice counseling. In addition to that, the average median salary in Pennsylvania is higher than that of the national average. With the right educational background and experience, you could be on track to a great career in counseling.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Counselor in Pennsylvania?

Like most states, Pennsylvania has educational, experience and examination requirements that must be completed before individuals can obtain a license in counseling. This provides you with the knowledge and training you need to handle a variety of clients and help them in the best way possible.

Counseling Educational Track
Education RequirementsEducation LengthAvailable Programs
Undergraduate WorkEarn a Bachelor's Degree in Counseling4 YearsOnline or Campus
Graduate WorkEarn a Master's Degree in Counseling5-6 YearsOnline or Campus
PHD or Doctoral WorkEarn a Doctorate in Counseling7-8 YearsOnline or Campus

The first step to becoming licensed in Pennsylvania is to complete a master’s or doctoral program in counseling (or a closely related field) that has been accredited by a regional or national agency like the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The program should consist of 60 semester hours, spread out between topics like human growth and development, group work, career and lifestyle development, research and program evaluation and professional orientation. The 049 Pa. Code § 49.2 lists the total topics needed to make up an accepted program. You will also need to gather 100 hours of practicum and complete an internship composed of at least 600 hours.

What Are the Supervised Education Requirements to Become a Counselor in Pennsylvania?

The amount of supervised experience you will need to gain is dependent upon the degree you hold. For instance, those with a master’s degree in counseling will need to accumulate at least 3,600 clinical hours of post-graduate experience. Those holding a doctoral degree will need to accumulate 2,400 hours of post-graduate experience. Half of the experience hours you gain must be what is considered “direct client services,” which can consists of counseling clients, performing assessments, providing therapy, etc.

What Are the Examination Requirements to Become a Counselor in Pennsylvania?

The state of Pennsylvania will accept passing scores on a variety of different examinations before providing future counselors with a license. Without a doubt, the most popular are the examinations offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. Those are the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and the Examination for Master Addictions Counselors (EMAC). Also fairly popular and widely respected is the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Examination (CRC) offered by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. The 049 Pa. Code § 49.11 lists all of the examinations accepted.

Note: For more information on how to become a counselor in Pennsylvania, please see the Pennsylvania Department of State.

Counseling Career Outlook In Pennsylvania

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of May 2011, there were 15,380 mental health counselors, 6,800 rehabilitation counselors and 9,610 substance abuse counselors employed in the state of Pennsylvania. Their median annual salaries ranged from $37,390 to $39,360, which is slightly above that of the national average.

Schools with Degree Programs Accepting Students from Pennsylvania

Additional Resources for Pennsylvania Applicants: