How to Become a Licensed Counselor in South Carolina

How Do I Become a Professional Counselor in South Carolina?

Residents of the Palmetto State who want to become licensed professional counselors in know that the state has more to offer than just gorgeous beaches and golf courses. If you enjoy helping people, a career in counseling might be the right move for you.

South Carolina’s licensed professional counselors enjoy rewarding careers that focus on helping their clients improve their health and well-being. From drug abuse counseling to suicide prevention counseling to couples, geriatrics, and pediatrics counseling, opportunities in this profession are varied and highly gratifying.

Learning how to become a counselor in South Carolina begins with familiarizing yourself with the education, experience, and exam requirements necessary for state licensure through the South Carolina Board of Examiners for Licensure of Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, Addiction Counselors and Psycho-Educational Specialists:

Educational Requirements to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor in South Carolina

The first step to becoming a licensed professional counselor involves earning an accredited master’s or doctoral degree primarily in counseling or in a related discipline. The program must be a minimum of 48 graduate semester hours and include study in the following content areas:

  • Human growth and development
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • The helping relationship
  • Group dynamics, processing, and counseling
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Appraisal of individuals
  • Research and evaluation
  • Professional orientation
  • Psychopathology or diagnostics of psychopathology
Counseling Educational Track
Education Requirements Education Length Available Programs
Undergraduate Work Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Counseling 4 Years Online or Campus
Graduate Work Earn a Master's Degree in Counseling 5-6 Years Online or Campus
PHD or Doctoral Work Earn a Doctorate in Counseling 7-8 Years Online or Campus

The graduate program must also include a 100-hour supervised counseling practicum and a 600-hour supervised counseling internship.

Many graduate programs in counseling are now offered in a hybrid and/or online format. Featuring the same, quality curriculum as on-campus programs, online master’s degrees in counseling deliver outstanding convenience and flexibility for busy, working professionals and those with geographical limitations.

Find graduate counseling programs in South Carolina.

You must apply to become a South Carolina Professional Counselor Associate (LPC-A) before you begin working toward the post-graduate supervised experience required for licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).

Experience and Exam Requirements to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor in South Carolina

As an LPC-A, you must complete at least 1,500 hours of supervised clinical practice in professional counseling under the supervision of a licensed professional counselor or other qualified licensed mental health professional (licensed psychologist, licensed medical doctor such as a psychiatrist). At least 120 hours of these hours must be under immediate supervision.

You must also take and pass the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE), both of which are administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).

Apply to take the NCE or NCMHCE exam.

Once you’ve satisfied the supervised experience requirements and passed the NCE or NCMHCE exam, you’ll apply to become an LPC and pay the $170 application fee.

Which Type of Counselor Will You Become?

As you explore a career in counseling, you may also be interested in learning more about similar professions and their earning potential in South Carolina:

Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists apply psychological principles and techniques to education disorders and developmental disorders to address student learning and behavioral problems; design and implement performance plans and evaluate performances; and counsel students and families. These professionals, who must hold a PhD or PsyD, work in schools, private practice, governmental agencies, and outpatient care centers. Clinical and counseling psychologists in South Carolina earned a median salary of $84,460 as of May 2022. Those with significant experience earned closer to the 90th percentile here, which was $125,440 during this time. Their school psychologist colleagues had a median salary of  $62,500. The 90th percentile earned upwards of $94,430. Learn how to become a psychologist in South Carolina.

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors help students develop academic and social skills to succeed in life. They also help people develop vocational skills and counsel individuals and groups. Counselors usually hold a master’s degree work in primary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities and for vocational and educational support services organizations. Educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors in South Carolina earned a median salary of $49,050 as of May 2022 and a top (90th percentile) salary of $77,640.

Marriage and Family Therapists work with individuals, families, and couples in the context of the family dynamic. This short-term, solution-based form of therapy may focus on everything from depression to anxiety to substance abuse to schizophrenia. Learn how to become a marriage and family therapist in South Carolina.

Counseling Career Outlook and Salaries in South Carolina

Between 2020 and 2030, the number of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselor jobs is projected to increase by 23% in South Carolina. This growth is part of the reason (retirements and natural job turnover also play a role in annual job openings) why during this ten-year period ending in 2030, the state will see about 210 annual job openings among these professionals.

South Carolina’s substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earned a median salary of $45,030 as of May 2022. If you’re relatively new to the field, you can expect to earn about $37,290, which represents the 25th percentile, while those with significant experience earn about $68,700 in South Carolina, which represents the 90th percentile.

Rehabilitation counselors, who help people with physical, mental, developmental, and emotional disabilities and work in community rehab centers, senior citizen centers, and private practice, earned a median salary of $30,440 in South Carolina as of May 2022. The top earners in this profession (90th percentile) earned about $43,260 during this time.

Schools with Degree Programs Accepting Students from South Carolina

Additional Resources for South Carolina Applicants

2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*NET (a website sponsored by the US Department of Labor) job market trends and salary figures for clinical and counseling psychologists, school psychologists, educational, guidance, and career counselors, marriage and family therapists, substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors, rehabilitation counselors, and counselors (all other) are based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed August 2023.