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 around 18,270 counselors working in Georgia across a 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 (MFT)
- School Counselor
- Substance Abuse Counselor (SAC)
- 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. If you already hold a license in another state and are looking to practice in Georgia, visit our Counseling License Reciprocity Guide.
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 in Georgia 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 (the Board) licenses professional counselors and marriage and family therapists. School counselors are licensed by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) 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 (the Board) 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 include required coursework and 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 November 2022, 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 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 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. This application includes verification documents for your completed supervised experience. 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 November 2022, the fee is $100.
5. Receive your LPC license.
The Board meets periodically to review applications. Once they have reviewed and verified all documentation from your application, you will receive your LPC license and can begin practicing in professional counseling in Georgia.
LPC Licensure by Endorsement in Georgia
Georgia does not offer counseling licensure by reciprocity to applicants licensed in other states. However, 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 upload copies of licenses held in all previous states, relevant exam scores, practicum/internship verification form, and transcripts along with the application form. You must also have all other states where you have been licensed complete Form N, which is part of the application packet.
Counselor License Renewal and Continuing Education Information
Licenses expire on September 30 of even-numbered years and must be renewed by APCs and LPCs. As of November 2022, 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.
Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)
Licensed marriage and family therapists (MFTs) in Georgia are also licensed by the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists (the Board). MFTs specialize in marriage and family systems, including interpersonal dynamics, healthy relationships, and social and emotional issues. To be eligible for licensure as an MFT 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 MFT licensure process requires candidates to:
- Register as an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (AMFT) by submitting an application and transcripts.
- Pass the Marital and Family Therapy National Examination from the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB).
- Earn 2,000 hours of direct clinical experience, 100 hours of which must be supervised experience.
- Submit an application for and receive your MFT license.
For more information about a career as an MFT, visit our MFT 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 (GaPSC). It is possible to meet the requirements for certification through various means. In order to receive a Provisional certificate, applicants who are not already certified teachers must have a master’s degree in counseling, a Master of Social Work degree, or a clinical social work license and have an offer of employment by a Georgia school board. To receive a standard Professional certificate, you must complete a state-approved school counseling certification program at the master’s level or a master’s degree in any counseling area and submit a valid National Certified School Counselor (NCSC) credential or an LPC license. The general steps to becoming a school counselor are:
- Apply for a provisional certificate if your educational background does not yet qualify you for a standard professional certificate.
- Complete an approved school counseling certification program, if not already completed as part of graduate study, including a course in identifying and educating exceptional children.
- Pass the Georgia Assessment for the Certification of Educators (GACE) content knowledge assessments.
- Submit an application online.
- Receive your certification.
More information about school counseling careers can be found in our school counseling career guide.
Substance Abuse Counselor (SAC)
The state of Georgia does not license alcohol and drug or addiction counselors or even require specific qualifications for the job. Instead, organizations like the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Certification Board of Georgia (ADACBGA), the Georgia Addiction Counselors Association (GACA), and the Prevention Credentialing Consortium of Georgia, Inc. (PCCG) certify these types of counselors in the state. Georgia LPCs can also practice substance abuse counseling as part of a wider scope of practice. These organizations offer several levels of certification for aspiring substance abuse counselors. The minimum educational requirement for any of these credentials is a high school diploma, but keep in mind that many jobs in the field will require a postsecondary degree. In general, you will follow these steps after completing the education qualifying you for your desired level of certification:
- Complete necessary training.
- Accrue the necessary supervised work experience.
- Pass the required examination required for your desired credential.
- Submit an application to the credentialing agency offering your desired credential.
- Receive your certification.
- Get hired by an agency to practice as a substance abuse counselor in Georgia.
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 is 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 roughly 18,270 counselors in Georgia are educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors (10,730), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2021.1-5 The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell metropolitan area ranks sixth in the country for this type of counseling employment (6,410).2 Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors account for almost an additional third of the total number (5,450).5
The employment outlook for counselors in Georgia is promising, according to Projections Central. The fastest growth is predicted for marriage and family therapists (35.7%) resulting in 50 new jobs through 2030 and substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (32.2%) resulting in 2,020 new jobs, followed by “all other” counselors (21.2%) resulting in 360 new jobs.6 Many new positions are projected for educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors as well (1,220).6 Growth rates for all the major counseling groups are above national projections through 2030 suggesting many new positions will be available in the coming years.6
|Occupation||Number Employed1-5||Average Annual Salary1-5|
|Counselors, All Other||1,170||$57,720|
|Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors||10,730||$60,120|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||N.Av.||$48,280|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||5,450||$45,740|
Counseling Associations in Georgia
- Alcohol and Drug Abuse Certification Board of Georgia (ADACBGA): Organization offering numerous certifications, as well as continuing education opportunities, and an annual conference.
- Georgia Addiction Counselors Association (GACA): 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.
- Georgia School Counselor Association (GSCA): Statewide organization advocating for professional standards in the school counseling profession, supporting school counselors, and conducting research on effective practice.
- Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia (LPCAGA): An award-winning advocacy organization for counselors working in all types of counseling across the state.
- Prevention Credentialing Consortium of Georgia, Inc. (PCCG): Organization providing credentialing for substance abuse counselors, as well as continuing education courses.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to apply for counseling licensure in Georgia?
As of November 2022, 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 MFT licenses. The fee is the same for license renewals and licensure by endorsement applications ($100 as of November 2022).
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. Educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors report the highest average salary among various counseling areas at $60,120 with those working in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell metropolitan area earning $64,290.3 This is followed by “all other” counselors ($57,720) and rehabilitation counselors ($51,780).4,5
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