How to Become a Licensed Counselor in Tennessee

How Do I Become a Licensed Professional Counselor in Tennessee?

The state of Tennessee is a wonderful place for bright and caring individuals to study and practice counseling. It's the kind of work that offers the promise of diverse employment options that could include everything from working in the Tennessee school system to supporting local communities through social services programs to starting an independent practice. Any path you choose, you'll find it leads to the unique rewards that come with helping people through trying times.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Counselor in Tennessee?

A fantastic counselor has a solid foundation from a high-quality education and wisdom gained from supervised experience. This is why the state of Tennessee requires that you obtain at least a master’s degree in counseling, gain some supervised experience and then pass a board-accepted examination showcasing your level of knowledge and experience.

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 degree from an educational program accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools or the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. The program should include at least 60 graduate semester hours and cover the core concepts of counseling including topics like theories of human behavior, theories of counseling and psychotherapy, etc.

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

The state laws in Tennessee (Chapter 0450-01 – General Rules Governing Professional Counselors) require individuals to gain a certain amount of supervised experience. This experience gives young professionals the confidence and information they need to succeed and they earn it under the watchful eye of a licensed professional.

You’ll need to accumulate at least 2 years of supervised professional, post-degree experience. This should consist of no less than 10 hours per week and 50 contact hours of supervision per year. This supervision should take place under a qualified and licensed mental health counselor.

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

To finally get your license as a licensed professional counselor, you will need to pass two examinations, including The National Counselor Examination, administered by the NBCC and the Tennessee Jurisprudence Examination. The NCE gauges your overall knowledge of counseling and the things you learned during your educational program. It consists of 200 multiple choice questions and topics such as social culture and diversity, human growth and development, assessment and more.  You will be given 4 hours to complete the test. The Jurisprudence Examination is a way of gauging your knowledge of Tennessee-specific topics such as ethics and certain laws.

Note: For more information on how to become a professional counselor in the state of Tennessee, please visit Tennessee Board of Licensed and Professional Counselors.

Counseling Career Outlook In Tennessee

As of 2022, you could find 660 rehabilitation counselors, working in Tennessee, along with another 870 working in other specialized roles. But by far, the biggest group in the state are substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors, with more than 4,000 licensed practitioners in these roles working throughout Tennessee.

That year, the median salary for rehabilitation counselors in Tennessee was $41,450, while the top ten percent in that group earned more than $61,870. The largest group of professional counselors were among those earning the highest salaries that year, with Tennessee's substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors earning a median salary of $43,950 and the top ten percent earning more than $65,130.

Schools with Degree Programs Accepting Students from Tennessee

Additional Resources for Tennessee Applicants:

2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics job market trends and salary figures for Rehabilitation Counselors and Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors are based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed July 2023.