What Are the Requirements to Become a Mental Health Counselor?
Types of Mental Health Specializations
Common Steps to Becoming a Mental Health Counselor
How Long Does it Take to Become a Mental Health Counselor?
Mental Health Counselor Salary and Job Outlook
Mental Health Counseling Career FAQ
To become an LPC or licensed professional counselor, you need to meet several qualifications. Licensure and certification requirements for mental health counselors may include earning a master’s degree in counseling, post-graduate clinical hours and passing an exam.
Mental health counselor certifications may also require additional education, experience and examinations. Once you satisfy the requirements set forth by your state, you can apply for a mental health counselor license.
Many people wonder, “What degree do you need to be a mental health counselor?” You do need a master’s degree if you wish to be a licensed mental health counselor. Some states require specific coursework to earn a master’s degree in mental health counseling.
The majority of states mandate the completion of 60 semester hours of graduate work, including a minimum of a 48-semester-hour master’s degree from an accredited program. CACREP is the widely preferred accreditor in the field. Be sure to check with your state board to see if this is required.
Mental health counselors may work in hospitals, clinics, substance abuse centers or residential mental health facilities. In addition, you may find a licensed professional counselor working in government roles, private practice, schools and in companies’ employee assistance programs. Most mental health counselors work full-time. Some employed at inpatient facilities may work various shifts that include evenings, nights and weekends.
The demand for mental health counselors is increasing. The BLS projects that employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors will grow 25% by 2029. However, whether a mental health counseling career is a good fit for you is a subjective question—many personal variables play a role.
You’ll want to consider the job growth outlook, day-to-day duties and education requirements when considering a career in mental health counseling, as well as what jobs are similar to mental health counseling. Other positions that may interest you include health educators, community health workers, social workers and school counselors.
The number of people in the United States experiencing mental health issues including anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation is increasing. A recent report from the nonprofit Mental Health America found that the “number of people looking for help with anxiety and depression has skyrocketed,” and that there is an unmet need for mental health treatment among youth and adults.