Alaska Counseling License Requirements
Alaska, the largest state in the country but with one of the lowest populations, has some high paying opportunities for those looking to pursue a career in counseling. The population of more than 700,000 residents is served by over 2,000 professional counselors, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).1-5 If you have an interest in a counseling career in Alaska you will want to know the licensure regulations and the process to become a professional counselor. This page will teach you the requirements and steps to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Alaska as well as how to obtain other counseling licenses.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Counselor in Alaska
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensing Process
- Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Alaska
- Licensed Marital and Family Therapist (LMFT)
- School Counselor
- Chemical Dependency Counselor (CDC)
- Other Professional Counseling Careers
- Alaska Counseling Career and Salary Information
- Counseling Associations in Alaska
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Become a Counselor in Alaska
In Alaska, most types of professional counselors must have a graduate degree that meets specific coursework requirements. Programs offered by counseling schools in Alaska will generally meet these requirements, though out-of-state programs may as well. Some state licensing boards may also require work experience and exam testing as part of the licensure process.
1. Pick an area of counseling to pursue.
First, choose an area of counseling to pursue. Counseling is an extensive field with many subfields and the path to a counseling license will depend on the type of counseling you wish to practice. The licensure process will outline the exact type of degree and coursework you must complete to ensure you are well prepared to gain work experience in your chosen practice area.
2. Earn the education needed for your chosen counseling practice area.
Most types of counselor licenses in Alaska require a degree to become licensed. Professional counselors must have a master’s degree in counseling or a related field and marital and family therapists must have a master’s degree in marital and family therapy or a related field. School counselors must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree and complete a program in school counseling. Chemical dependency counselors can become certified without a college degree; however, an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree can reduce the training and work experience requirements for certification.
3. Get your license to practice counseling in Alaska.
The next step is to become licensed by the appropriate Alaskan counseling board. Professional counselors are licensed by the Alaska Board of Professional Counselors; marital and family therapists are licensed by the Alaska Board of Marital and Family Therapy; school counselors are licensed by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development; and chemical dependency counselors are licensed by the Alaska Commission for Behavioral Health Certification. Continue reading to learn more about each counseling licensure process in Alaska.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensing Process
To become a professional counselor, you must obtain a license from the Alaska Board of Professional Counselors. Applicants must have a 60-credit master’s degree; the Board prefers degrees in counseling from accredited institutions but will consider degrees in related fields or from non-accredited institutions if the coursework check sheet is included with the application. Alaska LPCs use professional counseling theories, methods, and techniques to help clients improve relationships and maladaptive behaviors; they diagnose, assess, and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders in individual or group treatment settings. If you would like to know more about what professional counselors do, see our mental health counselor career guide.
1. Complete a criminal records check.
Prospective applicants must contact the Department of Public Safety, Alaska State
Troopers to obtain a criminal records check. Applicants who do not reside in Alaska or have resided in Alaska less than one year must also provide a criminal records check from their most recent state of residency. More information can be found on the Department’s website.
2. Accrue supervised experience.
Applicants must complete 3,000 hours of post-degree supervised clinical experience in a minimum of two years. At least 1,000 hours must be direct service delivery and the supervisor must provide no less than 100 hours of face-to-face supervision. The Board requires the supervisor to be licensed as an LPC, clinical social worker, marital and family therapist, psychologist, psychological associate, or a physician or advanced nurse practitioner certified to provide mental health services. Additional information about supervision requirements can be found in the Board statues.
3. Pass the required exam.
Applicants must pass either the National Counselor Examination (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). The NCE is a 200-question multiple-choice exam that tests knowledge of the eight key counseling areas identified by CACREP, including human growth and development, social and cultural diversity, the counseling process, and diagnostic and assessment services. The NCMHCE uses a clinical simulation format to test for DSM and clinical counseling knowledge. The NBCC provides NCE and NCMHCE handbooks with detailed information for test takers and links to exam prep resources.
4. Apply for and receive your LPC license.
The application package for LPC licensure is available online and must be notarized prior to submission. The Board must receive the application package along with two letters of reference, certified transcripts, exam results, supervision verification, your criminal records check, and the required fees before they will process your file. The application fee is $200 and the initial licensure fee is $250 as of September 2019; it can take at least four weeks to be processed. You must continue to practice with supervision and you cannot use the LPC title until you receive your license.
Professional Counselor Licensure by Reciprocity in Alaska
In Alaska, there are no formal agreements for licensure by reciprocity but counselors licensed in other states can apply for licensure by credentials if the requirements are similar to those in Alaska. To be eligible, candidates must have at least 60 credits of graduate study or additional coursework will be required regardless of whether the degree meets counseling coursework requirements. Applicants must also submit supporting documentation, such as transcripts, and criminal records checks for Alaska, the previous state of residence, and any other state where they are or have been licensed. Proof of completion of at least 40 continuing education credits within the past two years is also required. Licensure by credentials candidates should use the LPC application package.
Counselor Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information
Licenses are valid from November 1 to October 31 of odd-numbered years; the Board mails renewal notices 30 days before expiration. You can either renew online or by submitting the paper application. The Board does not provide a grace period for late renewals and it is advised to allow up to six weeks for paper renewal processing. The renewal fee is $250 as of September 2019. Licensees must confirm they have completed 40 hours of continuing education (CE) during each renewal period, including three hours of professional ethics training. While CE documentation is not requested at the time of renewal, it may be requested if you are chosen for a random audit by the Board.
Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Alaska
Counseling is a broad field and the licensure requirements will vary depending on your preferred area of practice. There are several other major types of counseling in Alaska, including licensed marital and family therapy, school counseling, and chemical dependency counseling.
Licensed Marital and Family Therapist (LMFT)
To become an LMFT, you must apply for licensure through the Alaska Board of Marital and Family Therapy. Alaska LMFTs specialize in counseling methods related to marital and family systems and are licensed to assess, diagnose, and treat mental health, emotional, and behavioral disorders that impact intrapersonal and interpersonal dynamics. You must have a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or an allied health field from an accredited institution that meets coursework requirements. Further instructions are included in the application package. The LMFT licensing process requires applicants to:
- Complete a fingerprint and background check through the Department of Public Safety.
- Register as a Marital and Family Therapy Associate (MFTA) and submit a plan for supervision.
- Earn supervised experience.
- Pass the AMFTRB marriage and family therapy exam.
- Request and receive your LMFT license.
To learn more about licensed marital and family therapist careers, visit our LMFT career guide.
Prospective Alaska school counselors are licensed by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development and their scope includes assisting in the development of students to reach their academic, career, and personal goals. In Alaska, the school counselor designation is considered an endorsement, or a Type C Special Services Certificate. A state-approved program in school counseling is required in addition to an accredited bachelor’s or graduate degree. Additional educational requirements can be found on the Department of Education’s website. A two-year provisional certificate is available if you would like to begin working before you have met all coursework requirements. In general, the steps to becoming a school counselor include:
- Apply for a Provisional Type C Special Services Certificate, if necessary.
- Complete any educational requirements necessary.
- Complete the mandatory training.
- Submit an application packet.
- Receive your Initial Two-Year or Initial Five-Year Special Services Certificate.
- Complete any outstanding requirements.
- Apply for and receive your Regular Five-Year Special Services Certificate.
If you would like to learn more about becoming a school counselor, read our school counselor career guide.
Chemical Dependency Counselor (CDC)
The Alaska Commission for Behavioral Health Certification (ACBHC) offers three certifications for aspiring chemical dependency counselors: Counselor Technician, Chemical Dependency Counselor I, and Chemical Dependency Counselor II. A college degree is not required but can be advantageous as it can reduce the training and experience requirements. Even the non-degreed track for certification requires substantial related coursework. Chemical dependency counselors in Alaska provide assessment, treatment planning, and counseling services to individuals and groups struggling with or impacted by alcohol and drug-related dependencies. Earn a chemical dependency counseling certification by completing these steps:
- Complete chemical dependency, ethics, confidentiality, or additional counseling training, if required.
- Earn supervised experience.
- Submit three references.
- Pass the chemical dependency exam, if required.
- Request and receive your certification.
Other Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Alaksa
- Chemical Dependency Clinical Supervisor
Read more about chemical dependency counseling careers on our substance abuse counseling career guide.
Other Professional Counseling Careers
Counseling is a broad field and you can specialize in many subfields. In addition to mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, and school counseling, you can also pursue a career in one of the following subfields:
- Rehabilitation Counselor
- Gambling Counselor
- Genetic Counselor
- Youth Counselor
- Guidance Counselor
- Pastoral Counselor
- Recreational Therapist
Alaska Counseling Career and Salary Information
Of the estimated 2,054 licensed counselors employed in Alaska, the largest fields are substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counseling with 910 counselors employed and educational, guidance, school, and vocational counseling with 720 counselors employed.1,3 Alaska ranks among the top five highest-paying states in the country in three of five subfields of counseling.1-5 Rehabilitation counselors and substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors both earn average salaries that rank second highest in the country at $60,900 and $62,920 respectively.4,1 The category of “all other counselors” earns the fourth-highest average salary in the country at $58,800.5
Alaska is projected to see moderate growth in all practice areas of counseling through the year 2026, according to Projection Central.6 The areas that are expected to see the most growth are mental health counseling, adding 60 new positions and expecting 14% growth, and the “all other counselors” category, adding 40 new jobs at a rate of 12.5% growth.6 Substance abuse and behavioral disorders are estimated to grow 12%, opening up an additional 30 positions.6 While all categories are expected to grow at a slower pace in Alaska than the rest of the United States, an estimated 150 new counseling jobs will be added by 2026.6
|Occupation||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Counselors, All Other||100||$58,800|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||720||$66,730|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||30||$64,200|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||910||$62,920|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1-5
Counseling Associations in Alaska
- Alaska Counseling Association (AKCA): Provides continuing education opportunities, creates and maintains a code of ethics for its members, and affects legislation to improve access to counseling services for residents.
- Alaska School Counselor Association (AKSCA): Provides networking opportunities for Alaska school counselors to share resources, best practices, and answers to school counseling questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I provide distance counseling as an Alaska LPC?
As Alaska is a sparsely-populated state with many remote communities, establishing guidelines for distance counseling using technology-assisted methods has been of interest to the Board. LPCs in Alaska who wish to provide distance counseling are advised to ensure their practice follows the Alaska Counseling Association’s guidelines for technology and the NBCC’s guidelines for internet counseling. The Board advises that counselors who do not reside in Alaska or are not licensed in Alaska cannot provide services or represent themselves as Alaska LPCs without being licensed by the Board, even if they are licensed in their home state. Further information is available on the Board website.
How can I find an LPC supervisor in Alaska?
All post-degree work experience hours must be supervised by a Board-approved supervisor. A prospective supervisor must be licensed as a mental health professional, such as an LPC, clinical social worker, or psychiatrist. They must complete six hours of supervision training and submit an application to the Board. Prospective LPCs can search for qualified supervisors using the online licensure directory and should ensure the supervisor’s license and qualifications are up-to-date. Only hours accrued under an approved supervisor will be counted towards the licensure requirements.
Does the Board offer license by credentials for LMFTs?
Yes, if you are licensed as an LMFT in another state with similar requirements, you may be eligible for licensure by credentials in Alaska. You must submit a notarized application package with the $350 application fee and the $1,250 initial licensure fee (as of September 2019). You must also submit the rules and regulations for LMFT licensure in any states where you are licensed to ensure you meet similar requirements. Refer to the application form for more information.
Does the Board approve continuing education (CE) providers for licensure?
The Board sets guidelines for approved CE providers and activities. CE must be related to professional counseling and provided by an accredited academic institution or an approved independent organization. Some of the approved organizations include the American Counseling Association, the Alaska Counseling Association, the National Board for Certified Counselors, and the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Courses taken at an academic institution can be claimed at a rate of 15 CE hours per semester credit or 10 CE hours per quarter credit. A maximum of 20 hours can be claimed for self-study programs, such as correspondence learning. Further information is provided on the license renewal form.
How many annual openings are available for Alaska counselors?
A total of 190 annual openings, including replacements, are projected in the major reported counseling categories through 2026.6 Both educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors and mental health counselors are projected to have the highest number of openings per year (50 per field).6 All other counselors are projected to have 40 annual openings, followed by 30 annual openings for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors and 20 annual openings for rehabilitation counselors.6 No data was reported for marriage and family therapists.6
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211018.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Marriage and Family Therapists: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211013.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211012.htm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Rehabilitation Counselors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211015.htm
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Counselors, All Other: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211019.htm
6. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections 2016-2026: https://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm