How to Become a Licensed Counselor in South Dakota

How Do I Become a Professional Counselor in South Dakota?

South Dakota is a wonderful state to learn and practice counseling. Those who feel called to this fantastic career should know that jobs in this field are expected to grow by about 13% through the year 2030 according to the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation. Professionals in this state are offered competitive salaries higher than the national average. With the right education and training, you can start your career in this exciting field.

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

In order to be successful in a career in counseling, you will need a high-quality education as well as some experience. Once you’ve obtained these, the state will require that you pass a board-accepted examination in order to obtain your license.

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 first step is to obtain your master’s or doctorate degree from an educational institution that consists of at least 48 semester hours. In addition to this, your program must include a practicum, which should include 100 total hours, with 40 hours being direct service. You should also complete an internship, which will consist of 600 total hours with 240 of those hours being direct client contact. The law (South Dakota Code Chapter 36-32) requires that these hours be documented and provided to the board prior to licensure.

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What Are the Supervised Experience Requirements for a Counselor in South Dakota?

After you have completed your education, it’s time to gain the experience that only on-the-job training can provide. You will need at least 2,000 hours of post-graduate, supervised experience in counseling that should be completed within 3 years. At least 800 of those hours should be “direct client contact,” with the remainder being counseling-related activities. You should gain 1 hour of face-to-face supervision each week for a total of 100 hours.

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

The board accepts passing scores from the National Counselor Examination (NCE), which is administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. This is the industry-standard examination, which covers the general counseling topics you studied during your course work. It is a 200 question test with multiple choice answers, and you will have 4 hours to complete it.

Note: To learn more about becoming a licensed counselor in the state of South Dakota, please visit the South Dakota Department of Social Services.

Counseling Career Outlook In South Dakota

The state of South Dakota had 1,550 mental health, substance abuse, and behavioral disorder counselors employed in May of 2022, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This group earned an average annual salary of $48,160. At this time, there were also 300 rehabilitation counselors in South Dakota, a group with an average annual salary of $47,890. Pay typically increases with experience and can be dependent upon your location within the state.

Schools with Degree Programs Accepting Students from South Dakota

Additional Resources for South Dakota Applicants:

2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics and Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation job market trends and salary figures for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors and rehabilitation counselors are based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed August 2023.