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Alaska Counseling License Requirements

Alaska has a population of more than 700,000 residents, who are served by over 1,500 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. If you already hold a license in another state and are looking to practice in Alaska, visit our Counseling License Reciprocity Guide.

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 (the Board); marital and family therapists are licensed by the Alaska Board of Marital and Family Therapy (the Board), both part of the Division of Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing (the Division); school counselors are licensed by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (DEED); and chemical dependency counselors are licensed by the Alaska Commission for Behavioral Health Certification (ACBHC). 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 (the Board). Applicants must have a 60-credit master’s degree or doctoral degree in counseling or a related field from a regionally- or nationally-accredited institution. If the degree is not in counseling a coursework check sheet must be 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. Accrue supervised experience.

Applicants must complete 3,000 hours of post-degree supervised clinical experience over a minimum of two years. At least 1,000 hours must be direct service delivery and the supervisor must provide at least 100 hours of face-to-face supervision. The Board requires the supervisor to be Board-approved as a supervisor and 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.

2. Pass the required exam.

Applicants must pass either the National Counselor Examination (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE) 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 the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (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 clinical counseling knowledge. The NBCC provides NCE and NCMHCE handbooks with detailed information for test takers and links to exam prep resources.

3. Complete a criminal records check.

Applicants must contact the Department of Public Safety, Alaska State
Troopers to obtain a criminal records check. Those who do not reside in Alaska or have resided in Alaska for 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.

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, official 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 January 2023, and applications can take four-six weeks to be processed. You must continue to practice with supervision and you cannot use the LPC title until you receive your license.

LPC Licensure by Credentials 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 greater than or equal to those in Alaska. To be eligible, candidates must have at least 60 credits of graduate study in counseling even if it was not required to obtain their licensure in another state. Applicants must also submit official transcripts, a criminal background check, and verification of licensure. 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 License Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Licenses must be renewed biennially and 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 January 2023. 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 (the Board). 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 mental health field from a regionally accredited institution. If the degree is in a related field, it must include substantial coursework in marital and family therapy. The LMFT licensing process requires applicants to:

  1. Apply as a Marital and Family Therapy Associate (MFTA) and submit a plan for supervision.
  2. Earn supervised experience, including 1,700 hours of direct client service, 100 hours of individual supervision, and 100 hours of group supervision.
  3. Pass the Marital and Family Therapy (MFT) National Examination from the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB).
  4. Apply for and receive your LMFT license.

To learn more about licensed marital and family therapist careers, visit our LMFT career guide.

School Counselor

Prospective Alaska school counselors are licensed by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) 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. At least six semester hours of coursework must be completed in the five years immediately preceding your application and three semester hours each are required in Alaska studies and multicultural education. In general, the steps to becoming a school counselor include:

  1. Apply for a Provisional Type C Special Services Certificate, if necessary, to begin practicing before completing coursework in Alaska studies or multicultural education.
  2. Complete any additional educational requirements necessary.
  3. Complete mandatory training in sexual abuse awareness, alcohol- and drug-related disabilities, dating violence awareness, and suicide awareness.
  4. Submit an application packet.
  5. Receive your Initial Special Services Certificate.
  6. Work as a school counselor for five years.
  7. Apply for and receive a Regular Special Services Certificate.
  8. Complete National Board Certification and mandatory training.
  9. Apply for an Advanced 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 credentials for aspiring chemical dependency counselors: Counselor Technician (CT), Chemical Dependency Counselor I (CDC I), and Chemical Dependency Counselor II (CDC II). A college degree is not required for any level of certification but can be advantageous as it can reduce the training and experience requirements. 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:

  1. Complete required substance abuse counseling coursework (CT: 84 hours without or 20 hours with a degree in a behavioral health-related field; CDC I: 184 hours without or 20 hours with a degree; CDC II: 176 hours without or 48 hours with a degree.
  2. Earn supervised experience (CDC I: 4,000 hours without or 2,000 hours with a degree; CDC II: 6,000 hours with or without a degree).
  3. Complete supervised practicum in core competencies (100 hours for CDC I, 200 hours for CDC II).
  4. For CDC II, pass the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) National Certified Addiction Counselor (NCAC) Level I or II, or Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) exam.
  5. Apply for and receive your certification.

Optional Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Alaska

In addition to the CT and CDC I and II credentials offered by ACBHC, there are other optional credentials that are not required to practice substance abuse counseling, but will further demonstrate your expertise and may improve your employment prospects.

  • Chemical Dependency Clinical Supervisor (CDCS)
  • Peer Support Associate
  • Peer Support Professional

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 more than 1,500 licensed counselors employed in Alaska, the fields with the most counselors are substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counseling with 1,000 counselors employed and educational, guidance, and career counseling and advising with 350 counselors employed.1,3 Alaska ranks among the top five highest-paying states in the country for rehabilitation counselors ($55,100 average annual salary) and substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors ($65,090 average annual salary).1,5

Alaska is projected to see moderate growth in all practice areas of counseling through the year 2030, according to Projections Central.6 The areas that are expected to see the most growth are substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counseling, with 10.6% growth and 70 new positions, and “all other” counseling, with 9.4% growth and 30 new positions.6 While most categories are expected to grow at a slower pace in Alaska than the national average, an estimated 150 new counseling jobs will be added by 2030.6

OccupationNumber Employed1-5Average Annual Salary1-5
Counselors, All OtherN.Av.N.Av.
Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors350$64,840
Marriage and Family TherapistsN.Av.N.Av.
Rehabilitation Counselors170$55,100
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors1,000$65,090

Counseling Associations in Alaska

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 February 2023). You must also submit the rules and regulations for LMFT licensure in any state 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 170 annual openings, including replacements, are projected in the major reported counseling categories through 2030.6 Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors are projected to have the highest average number of openings per year (70).6 Educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors are projected to have 50 average annual openings, “all other” counselors are projected to have 30 annual openings, followed by 20 annual openings for rehabilitation counselors.6

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021 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, May 2021 Marriage and Family Therapists: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211013.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021 Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211012.htm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021 Rehabilitation Counselors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211015.htm
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021 Counselors, All Other: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211019.htm
6. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm