How to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor in Iowa

How Do I Become a Licensed Professional Counselor in Iowa?

In the state of Iowa, a Mental Health Counselor receives a license from the Iowa Board of Behavioral Science. You will have to apply for a temporary license after a Master’s Degree has been completed. You will be able to apply for a permanent license after the supervised practice is out of the way.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Counselor in Iowa?

To become a counselor in Iowa, you will need to have attended a graduate program that consisted of a minimum of 60 semester hours of coursework. The school is required to have an accreditation from an agency that is recognized by the United States Department of Education.

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 counseling program that you attended has to be in the mental health counseling focus. This program will also need to have accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, also known as CACREP. There are certain programs that you will have to have completed prior to becoming a counselor in Iowa:

  • Social/cultural diversity
  • Professional orientation/ethical practice
  • Career Development
  • Human Growth/Development
  • Group Work
  • Research/Program Evaluation
  • Assessment
  • Psychotherapy
  • Diagnosis/Treatment Planning
  • Internship
  • Practicum
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What Are the Supervised Experience Requirements to Become a Counselor in Iowa?

Iowa now has new guidelines that state there must be 100 practicum hours that are completed over a minimum of a ten-week period. This time period must also include a minimum of 40 hours of face-to-face client counseling. There has to be an average of a minimum of one week of triadic supervision or individual supervision. There will need to be a formal evaluation precisely filled out at the end. The internship is required to be a minimum of 600 hours per week; this is including 240 hours of face-to-face client supervised counseling.

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

Iowa does not expect you to pass the licensing exam when you have your temporary licensure. However, you will need to have passed it before you can receive your permanent license.

There are options available to you when it comes to licensing exams. You can take your exam through National Counselor Examination, as well as through National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination, which is through the National Board for Certified Counselors. You can also go with the option of Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Examination; this is through the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification.

When you turn in your licensing application, which is when you will receive all of the registration information. If you chose to take the NBCC exam, you will need to send in a $195 fee with your registration. There will be a four-week waiting period.

The application itself will take an advanced preparation. If you have successfully graduated from a program that was accredited by CACREP involving mental health counseling, you will just need to provide transcripts from the program to the Iowa board. If you did not graduate with an accreditation from CACREP mental health counseling, you will need to have your transcript reviewed if it follows the educational guidelines. At either level, the application fee is $120 and it's nonrefundable.

If you have received your education/training in a different country, you will need to contact the International Educational Research Foundation to have them review your education.

Counselor Career Outlook In Iowa

The median annual salary in Iowa for a substance abuse, mental health, and behavioral disorder counselor is $50,800 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The hourly wage is $27.14 on average. However, the top 10% make upwards of $82,350. The wages and salary are subject to change depending on the type of license, as well as the type of counseling you provide.

Schools with Degree Programs Accepting Students from Iowa

Additional Resources for Iowa Applicants:

2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics 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 August 2023.