How to Become a Licensed Counselor in South Carolina

How Do I Become a Professional Counselor in South Carolina?

If you’re excited about working with people and improving lives, a career in counseling would be perfect for you. The state of South Carolina offers up competitive salaries for counselors (higher than the national average) and the counseling industry has a very bright outlook throughout the entire state. With the right education and training, you can start a rewarding and fulfilling career in counseling.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Counselor in South Carolina?

To deal with the various situations and cases counselors find themselves saddled with, they need a rich background in education and experience gained from on-the-job training. This is accomplished with a high-quality counseling program and supervised experience. The state also requires a passing score on a board-approved examination.

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 is to graduate from a master’s program in counseling. This program should include at least 48 semester hours, and cover topics like human growth and development, social and cultural foundations, group dynamics, lifestyle and career development, etc. It’s important that the educational program is accredited by a national accrediting agency such as the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

The program should include a practicum of 150 hours and if you plan to practice mental health counseling, you should complete an internship of 400 hours with a focus on mental health disorders and treatment. More information on the educational requirements is available via the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

What Are the Supervised Experience Requirements to Become a Counselor in South Carolina?

Once you have completed your education, you will need to begin accumulating your supervised experience. South Carolina requires at least 1,500 hours of clinical experience under the supervision of a licensed professional approved by the board. At least 1,350 of those hours should be what is called “direct client contact,” or working directly with patients. It’s important that 150 of your hours is direct supervision under a professional counselor and 100 of those supervision hours should be one-on-one contact rather than group supervision. This experience should be gained over a period of 2 years.

What Are the Examination Requirements to Become a Counselor in South Carolina?

The board accepts passing scores from the National Counselor Examination (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE), both of which are administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). You should apply for approval to take one of these examinations through the Center for Credentialing & Education, and once you’re approved, you will the registration form and your fee to the NBCC to schedule a test date.

Note: For more information on how to become a counselor in the state of South Carolina, please visit the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation.

Counseling Career Outlook In South Carolina

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were 480 mental health counselors employed in South Carolina in May of 2011. There were also 1,420 rehabilitation counselors and 580 substance abuse counselors. Their median annual salaries ranged from $35,420 to $40,610. This is significantly higher than the national average.

Schools with Degree Programs Accepting Students from South Carolina

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Additional Resources for South Carolina Applicants: