How to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor in Connecticut

How Do I Become a Licensed Professional Counselor in Connecticut?

If you’ve always dreamed of working in a profession that’s focused on the health and well-being of people, a career in counseling may be a good fit for you. As a licensed professional counselor, your work may focus on individuals, families, or groups and opportunities to specialize will extend to areas like grief counseling, domestic violence counseling, pediatric counseling, and much more.

Counseling is rewarding, fulfilling and, in Connecticut, job opportunities are expected to remain strong in the coming years. If you want to begin exploring the counseling field in Connecticut, your first stop should include familiarizing yourself with the education and licensing requirements set forth by the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

Education Requirements to Become a Counselor in Connecticut

Licensed professional counselors in Connecticut are required to have a strong educational background and experience gleaned during a period of supervised experience. The state also requires a passing score on a board-approved examination.

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

To qualify for licensure in Connecticut, you’ll first need to earn a master’s degree or higher in clinical mental health counseling that’s either accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or includes at least 60 graduate semester hours in counseling or a related health field and coursework in the following areas:

  • Human growth and development
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Counseling theories
  • Counseling techniques
  • Group counseling
  • Career counseling
  • Appraisals or tests and measurements to individuals and groups
  • Research and evaluation
  • Professional orientation to mental health counseling
  • Addiction and substance abuse counseling
  • Trauma and crisis counseling
  • Diagnosis and treatment or mental and emotional disorders

The program must also include a practicum of at least 100 hours and a clinical mental health counseling internship of at least 600 hours.

You’ll find a nice selection of graduate programs in counseling offered in a hybrid and/or online format. Designed to accommodate busy, working professionals or those with geographical limitations, today’s online counseling graduate programs provide students with exceptional flexibility and convenience and are growing in numbers throughout the U.S.

After the completion of your graduate program in counseling, you’ll apply to become a Professional Counselor Associate in Connecticut and begin working to satisfy the experience requirements needed to earn your professional counselor license.

You must complete at least 3,000 hours of post-graduate supervised experience in professional counseling that includes a minimum of 100 hours of direct supervision under one of the following:

  • A licensed physician certified in psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
  • A licensed psychologist
  • A licensed APRN certified as a clinical specialist in adult psychiatric and mental health nursing with the American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • A licensed marital and family therapist
  • A licensed clinical social worker
  • A licensed professional counselor
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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.

You’ll then apply to become a Licensed Professional Counselor in Connecticut. Your application must include proof of the completion of an approved graduate program in counseling, proof of the completion of 3,000 hours of post-graduate supervised experience, a $315 application fee, and proof of a passing score that’s sent directly from the NBCC.

Which Type of Counselor Will You Become?

As you explore careers in counseling in Connecticut, you’ll find a plethora of subspecialties in the field, such as child abuse counselor, couples counselor, crisis intervention specialist, grief counselor, geriatric counselor, and many more. And as you learn more about how to become a counselor in Connecticut, you may also be interested in learning more about similar careers in Connecticut:

Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists apply psychological principles to address student learning and behavioral problems; design and implement performance plans and evaluate performances; and counsel students and families at schools, health practitioner offices, and outpatient care centers. These mental health professionals must hold a PsyD or PhD to practice. Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in Connecticut earned a median salary of $90,820 as of May 2020. The top earning psychologists in Connecticut (90th percentile) earned about $140,920 during this time. Learn how to become a psychologist in Connecticut.

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. Educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors in Connecticut earned a median salary of $66,820 as of May 2020, while those at the top of the pay scale (90th percentile) earned about $104,470.

Marriage and Family Therapists help individuals, couples, and families resolve conflict within the context of the family dynamic. These professionals are master’s-educated and state licensed to provide care to their clients in hospitals, community health centers, private practice, and more. As of May 2020, marriage and family therapists earned a median salary of $48,050 in Connecticut. The top earners (90th percentile) enjoyed a salary of about $71,660 during this time. Learn how to become a marriage and family therapist in Connecticut.

Counseling Career Outlook and Salaries in Connecticut

You’ll have plenty of professional opportunities awaiting you as a licensed professional counselor in Connecticut. Between 2018 and 2028, the number of substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselor jobs in Connecticut will grow by about 20%, rising from 5,570 jobs in 2018 to about 6,680 in 2028.

During this ten-year period ending in 2028, the state expects to see about 740 annual job openings among substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors due to a combination of new job growth, retirements, and natural job turnover.

As of May 2020, substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earned a median salary of $51,240. If you’re new to the profession, you’ll likely earn a salary that reflects the profession’s 25th percentile - $43,090. Connecticut’s seasoned counselors with plenty of experience and a solid reputation in the mental health field earn salaries that more closely reflect the 90th percentile – $80,900.

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Connecticut’s rehabilitation counselors, who help people with physical, mental, developmental, and emotional disabilities, earned a median salary of $36,300 as of May 2020, while the top earners here (90th percentile) earned about $77,490 during this time.

All other counselors in Connecticut earned a median salary of $47,970 as of May 2020, while the top earners (90thpercentile) earned about $73,420.

Schools with Degree Programs Accepting Students from Connecticut

Additional Resources for Connecticut Applicants

May 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and job market trends for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors, rehabilitation counselors, counselors, all other, marriage and family therapists, and clinical, counseling and school psychologists. Figures represent state data, not school specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed May 2021.

State job growth projections for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors and mental health counselors sourced from the U.S. Department of Labor-sponsored O*Net database (2018-2028).