Georgia Counseling License Requirements
If you are interested in a counseling career in Georgia, there are many opportunities across the state and a positive job outlook. There are currently 18,260 counselors working in Georgia across of range of specialties, including Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs).1-5 The licensure process in Georgia is rigorous and requires graduate education and work experience. Continue reading to learn more about the types of Georgia counseling licensure and how to pursue a career in this growing area.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Counselor in Georgia
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensing Process
- Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Georgia
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
- School Counselor
- Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC)
- Other Professional Counseling Careers
- Georgia Counseling Career and Salary Information
- Counseling Associations in Georgia
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Become a Counselor in Georgia
In Georgia, most types of counseling professionals are required to be licensed. Licensure is a rigorous process that often requires a master’s degree and other academic and work requirements. There are various counseling schools in Georgia that offer programs that meet this requirement. Out-of-state schools may also offer programs that meet Georgia’s requirements for prospective counselors. After completing an appropriate program, most licensure tracks require additional testing and some require post-graduation supervised experience as well.
1. Decide what area of counseling you’d like to pursue.
First, you should decide on a preferred area of specialization in counseling to help guide your steps to licensure. There are various types of counseling licensure, each with different educational and work requirements. Choosing an area of counseling first will help you meet the requirements as quickly and efficiently as possible.
2. Earn the degree(s) required for your counseling practice area.
Most types of counseling licensure in Georgia require at least a master’s degree. For the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) license, you will need a master’s degree in counseling or a related field. To become a marriage and family therapist, you will need a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or a closely related field. Prospective school counselors must complete a master’s degree in school counseling. Only substance abuse counselors can work with a minimum of a high school diploma, although degree holders have more lenient work experience requirements for certification.
3. Get licensed to practice counseling in Georgia.
After completing your education, you will apply to the appropriate board in Georgia for licensure. The Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists licenses professional counselors and marriage and family therapists. School counselors are licensed by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission and substance abuse counselors are certified by the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Certification Board of Georgia (ADACBGA). Continue reading to learn more about how to become licensed in each of these categories.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensing Process
The Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists regulates Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs). In Georgia, LPCs use psychotherapy and counseling methods to assess and treat mental and emotional issues. If you would like to know more about what professional counselors do, see our mental health counselor career guide. A master’s degree in a counseling-related field or applied psychology is required in Georgia. The Board does not provide a list of approved programs but the program must be accredited by one of the following: the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE), or a regional accreditation body recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
1. Register as an Associate Professional Counselor (APC) and request permission to test.
You must first apply for an Associate Professional Counselor (APC) license and gain supervised work experience. As of August 2019, the fee to apply is $100 and the application is available to download online. You can apply for the APC license once you have finished your graduate degree and you have secured an approved location and supervisor to complete the necessary work experience. Mail your application to the Board along with your transcripts. Once your application is approved, you will also be eligible to take the required exam.
2. Pass a national counseling exam.
The Board accepts exam results from either the National Counselor Examination (NCE) or the
National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) created by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) and administered by Pearson VUE. These multiple choice tests evaluate your knowledge of counseling theory, assessment, and intervention. The NCMHCE has a greater focus on mental health disorders, diagnosis, and treatment. The NBCC provides study guides online to help you prepare.
3. Complete supervised experience.
Every licensure candidate must complete supervised work experience before gaining full licensure. The required length of time will vary depending on your educational background. Individuals with master’s degrees in counseling must complete four years of supervised work experience. This may be reduced to three years if your graduate program included a 600-hour practicum or internship. Individuals with specialist or doctoral degrees may be eligible for further reductions. The supervisor must be an LPC, Clinical Social Worker, Marriage and Family Therapist, Psychologist, or Psychiatrist with one to three years of work experience depending on their education.
4. Apply for and receive your LPC licensure.
Once you have completed the supervised experience and passed your exam, you can apply for LPC licensure. The LPC application is available online but must be mailed to the Board. You can use the online Professional Licensing portal to check the status of your application and documents as they are uploaded to your file. Applications for licensure are reviewed by the Board once per month. As of August 2019, the fee is $100.
Professional Counselor Licensure by Endorsement in Georgia
Georgia does not offer counseling licensure by reciprocity to applicants licensed in other states. If you have been licensed in another state with a comparable licensure process for at least two years prior, you may be eligible for licensure by endorsement. Endorsement applicants must send copies of licenses held in all previous states, relevant exam scores, and transcripts along with the application form. You must also have all other states where you have been licensed complete Form N, available on the Board’s website.
Counselor Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information
Licenses expire on September 30 of even-numbered years and must be renewed by APCs and LPCs. As of August 2019, renewals cost $100. Renewals are completed through the online Professional Licensing portal. To renew, each applicant must confirm they have completed 35 hours of continuing education during each two-year period, including five hours of in-person ethics training. A maximum of 10 online hours and five independent study hours will be accepted during each period. The Board does not provide a list of approved CE providers but specifies the activities should be approved by a professional counseling association, a related academic department, or a counseling licensing board.
Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Georgia
The steps required to earn counseling licensure in Georgia will vary depending on the type of counseling career you are pursuing. In addition to the LPC, other types of Georgia counseling licenses include licensed marriage and family therapists, school counselors, and substance abuse counselors.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
Licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs) in Georgia are also licensed by the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists. LMFTs specialize in marriage and family systems, including interpersonal dynamics, healthy relationships, and social and emotional issues. To be eligible for licensure as an LMFT in Georgia, you must have a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or a related field with coursework in marriage and family studies, therapy, human development, ethics, and research. The LMFT licensure process requires candidates to:
- Register as an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (AMFT).
- Pass the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Boards (AMFTB) exam.
- Earn supervised experience.
- Apply for and receive your LMFT license.
For more information about a career as a LMFT, visit our LMFT career guide.
School counselors provide services to students of all ages to help with behavioral, emotional, or academic issues. In Georgia, school counseling certification is overseen by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. It is possible to meet the requirements for certification through various means. Applicants who are certified teachers must have an approved master’s degree in school counseling, a valid National Certified School Counselor (NCSC) credential, or an LPC or LAPC license. Applicants who are not certified teachers must have a master’s degree in counseling, a Master of Social Work degree, or Clinical Social Work license and have an offer of employment by a Georgia school board. The general steps to becoming a school counselor are:
- Complete an approved school counseling certification program, if not already completed as part of graduate study.
- Pass the necessary exams and assessments based on your previous experience.
- Submit an application online.
- Receive your certification.
More information about school counseling careers can be found in our school counseling career guide.
Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC)
In Georgia, it is possible to work in the field of substance abuse counseling with an LPC license or with a voluntary certification through the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Certification Board of Georgia (ADACBGA). As an LPC, substance abuse counseling can be offered as part of a wider scope of practice whereas ADACBGA certifications only enable you to provide counseling services related to substance abuse. The ADACBGA offers several levels of certification, including Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor levels Trainee, I, and II (CADC-T, I, and II); and Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC). The minimum educational requirement for CADC-T, CADC I, and CPRC certification is a high school diploma, while CADC IIs and CCJPs must have a bachelor’s degree, and CAADCs must have a master’s degree with clinical application. To earn ADACBGA certification, you will generally follow these steps:
- Complete 300 hours of training in 12 core counseling areas.
- Accrue the necessary supervised work experience.
- Mail your application and supporting documents to the ADACBGA.
- Receive your certification.
Other Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Georgia
- Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS)
- Certified Peer Recovery Coach (CPRC)
- Certified Preventionist (CP)
- Certified Recovery Residence Administrator (CRRA)
- Criminal Justice Addictions Professional (CCJP)
- Internationally Certified Prevention Specialist (ICPS)
- Prevention Apprentice (PA)
To learn more about substance abuse counseling careers, check out our substance abuse counseling career guide.
Other Professional Counseling Careers
A wide range of career paths are possible with a degree in counseling beyond the counseling licensure paths mentioned above. Some other examples of related counseling careers include:
- Rehabilitation Counselor
- Gambling Counselor
- Genetic Counselor
- Youth Counselor
- Guidance Counselor
- Pastoral Counselor
- Recreational Therapist
Georgia Counseling Career and Salary Information
Over half of the 18,260 counselors in Georgia are educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (10,060).1-5 The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell metropolitan area ranks eighth in the country for this type of counseling employment and East Georgia ranks third amongst nonmetropolitan areas for jobs in this category (5,590 and 380 respectively).2 Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors account for almost an additional third of the total number (5,870).5 Although they account for the lowest number of employed counselors at 130, marriage and family therapists are the highest-paid counselors in Georgia ($68,470).3 Those working in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell metropolitan area report earning $72,940, which is eighth in the country and well above the national average ($54,150).3
The employment outlook for counselors in Georgia is promising. The fastest growth is predicted for marriage and family therapists (26.9%) resulting in 70 new jobs through 2026 and substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors (24.5%) resulting in 250 new jobs, followed by mental health counselors (22.9%) resulting in 650 new jobs.6 The greatest number of new positions is projected for educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (1,870).6 Growth rates for all the major counseling groups are above national projections through 2026 suggesting many new positions will be available in the coming years.6
|Occupation||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Counselors, All Other||1,020||$34,010|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||10,060||$56,500|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||130||$68,470|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||5,870||$45,150|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1-5
Counseling Associations in Georgia
- Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia: An award-winning advocacy organization for counselors working in all types of counseling across the state.
- Georgia Addiction Counselors Association: A professional development organization that is committed to helping substance abuse counselors in Georgia at all stages of career development.
- Georgia Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (GAMFT): A professional organization for Georgian LMFTs to network and discuss professional standards, resources, and advocacy strategies.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to apply for counseling licensure in Georgia?
As of August 2019, the application fee set by the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists is $100 for APC, LPC, and LMFT licenses. The fee is the same for license renewals and licensure by endorsement applications ($100 as of August 2019).
Can I complete my counseling degree online?
Georgia accepts a wide range of counseling-related master’s programs for licensure. Your chosen program may be online as long as it is accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE), or a regional accreditation body recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The program must also have an internship component with supervision that must be completed face-to-face.
What exams are required to become a Licensed Professional Counselor?
Applicants for Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) licensure in Georgia must pass either the National Counselor Exam (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE) offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). Both exams test counseling theory, assessment, and intervention knowledge; however, the NCMHCE has a clinical mental health focus.
Can I become a substance abuse counselor without a master’s degree in Georgia?
Yes, it is possible to work as a substance abuse counselor with a high school diploma, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree. After gaining work experience, substance abuse counselors can apply for voluntary certification through the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Certification Board of Georgia (ADACBGA). With ADACBGA certification, you must limit your services to substance abuse counseling and you may not provide services related to mental, emotional, or other related issues.
What is the average salary for a counselor in Georgia?
Average salaries vary depending on the counseling area and the location within the state. Marriage and family therapists report the highest average salary among various counseling areas at $68,470 with those working in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell metropolitan area earning $72,940.2 This is followed by educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors ($56,500) and substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors ($45,150).3,1
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.org/Projections/LongTerm