Indiana Counseling License Requirements
Indiana has 10,170 individuals working as professional counselors, with many employed as school counselors and substance abuse counselors.1-5 If the idea of helping others with challenging mental health, social, behavioral, and relational issues excites you, pursuing counseling licensure in Indiana may be a great career option for you. This guide outlines the main type of Indiana counseling license, Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), as well as other common types. You will find the road to licensure can be long, but can ultimately lead to a rewarding career with good projected job prospects in the coming years.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Counselor in Indiana
- Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) Licensing Process
- Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Indiana
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
- School Counselor
- Licensed Clinical Addictions Counselor (LCAC)
- Other Professional Counseling Careers
- Indiana Counseling Career and Salary Information
- Counseling Associations in Indiana
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Become a Counselor in Indiana
Indiana requires professional counselors in all major types of practice to be highly-educated and licensed. Most types of Indiana counseling licensure require a graduate degree and passing exam scores on national exams.
1. Choose which area of counseling to pursue.
There are many types of professional counseling, including mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, school counseling, substance abuse counseling, and more. You may want to research these types to discover which one may be the best fit for you. See our careers page for more information on each.
2. Complete the degree(s) required for your chosen area of practice.
Most professional counselors will have a master’s degree as it is generally required by the licensing body before they can begin to accrue work experience. Mental health counselors must have a graduate degree in counseling, mental health, social work, or a related area. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs) must have a master’s degree in counseling with significant content in marriage and family therapy skills. School counselors in Indiana must complete a state-approved graduate school counseling program. Substance abuse counselor backgrounds may vary but Licensed Clinical Addictions Counselors (LCACs) must have a master’s degree as well.
3. Get licensed to practice counseling in Indiana.
Unlike some other states, one board issues many of the different licenses available to professional counselors in Indiana. However, each type of licensure has a different process so ensure you apply using the correct forms to avoid delays. The Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board issues licenses for mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and substance abuse counselors. The Indiana Department of Education issues school counseling licenses as part of school services.
Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) Licensing Process
Mental health counselors in Indiana must be licensed through the Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board. Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs) help clients to identify and resolve personal, social, emotional, and interpersonal concerns through the use of counseling, psychotherapeutic, and diagnostic techniques. If you would like to learn more about a career as a professional counselor, read our mental health counselor career guide. In Indiana, a related graduate degree is required and the Board accepts a wide range of programs, including clinical social work, human services, and counseling, as long as the program meets coursework and practicum requirements.
1. Register as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor Associate (LMHCA).
An associate’s license is required to accrue supervised experience. The paper application is available online and the application fee is $50 (as of August 2019). A criminal background check (CBC) will be required after you submit your application package to the Board, but before your license is issued. In-state applicants can visit an IdentoGO location to obtain a CBC whereas out-of-state applicants can use the mail-in process.
2. Accrue supervised experience.
Next, you must complete at least 3,000 hours of supervised work experience and receive 100 hours of clinical supervision over a two-year period. If you have completed a doctoral degree, this may reduce the required work hours for licensure. Supervision must be gained under an approved counselor educator or licensed counseling professional, such as an LMHC, psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, or clinical mental health nurse.
3. Apply for LMHC licensure and permission to test.
Once you have accrued 1,500 hours of work experience, you can apply for LMHC licensure and request permission to take the required exam. No more than 1,500 hours can be accumulated before you pass the required exam, therefore, you should take this into account when scheduling your exam. LMHC applications are available online and have an application fee of $50 (as of August 2019). You will also be required to submit another criminal background check after this stage. CBCs sent with the application package or completed before receiving permission from the Board are not accepted. At this stage, you can also apply for a temporary permit, which allows you to work as an LMHC until the results of your exam are received.
4. Pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE).
The NCMHCE is administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). The exam must be taken within one year of application otherwise a new application package must be sent to the Board. Applicants may take the exam up to three times before they must attend a meeting with the Board before allowing another attempt. The NBCC provides an exam handbook to help you prepare.
5. Receive your LMHC license.
You will receive an email notification from the Board when your license is approved. The email will contain a printable version of your license and instructions to order an optional official copy. You must display either the printed or official version of your license.
Professional Counselor Licensure by Reciprocity in Indiana
Indiana does not have formal reciprocity agreements with other states for LMHC licensure, but it does consider reciprocity applications from applicants who are licensed in other states and meet specific requirements. Reciprocity applicants must submit the application form, verification of licensure, passing scores from the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE), and a criminal background check to be eligible for licensure by reciprocity. Individuals licensed in other states who have not taken the NCMHCE are not eligible for licensure by reciprocity and must apply using the steps above. As of August 2019, the application fee is $50.
Counselor Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information
An LMHC license is valid for two years, from April 1 to March 31 of even-numbered years, and must be renewed. The renewal fee is $50 (as of August 2019). Licensees must complete 40 continuing education (CE) credits or clock hours to renew. A maximum of half the CE requirements can be completed through self-directed study methods and at least half must be completed through approved CE providers. Records of CE completion must be kept for four years in case they are requested by the Board. More information about approved CE activities and providers can be found on the Board website.
Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Indiana
Each type of professional counseling has a different education pathway and licensure process. While prospective mental health counselors can follow the steps above, below you will find the processes for other major types of counseling: licensed marriage and family therapists, school counselors, and substance abuse counselors.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
The Indiana Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board licenses marriage and family therapists in the state. The application package is available online and the application fee is $50 (as of August 2019). A master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or a related field is the minimum educational requirement. The degree must include 27 credits in 11 core counseling areas, two credits in professional ethics, and two credits in assessment of disorders and dysfunctions. LMFTs in Indiana use family systems and psychotherapy techniques to help individuals, couples, and families improve communication, problem-solving skills, and interpersonal relationships. Follow these steps to earn your LMFT license:
- Register as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate (LMFTA) and earn supervised experience.
- Mail your application for LMFT licensure and request permission to take the AMFTRB MFT exam.
- Complete a fingerprinting and criminal background check.
- Receive confirmation of your LMFT license via email.
To learn more about marriage and family therapists and what they do, visit our LMFT career guide.
School counselors work with students from pre-K to twelfth grade and are expected to be knowledgeable in a range of counseling techniques, including individual counseling, crisis counseling, and career counseling. School counseling licenses are issued through the Indiana Department of Education as part of the school services division. No classroom teaching experience is required but applicants do need to complete a state-approved master’s degree in school counseling and complete general requirements for all school employees. Follow these steps to earn school counseling licensure in Indiana:
- Register for an Initial Practitioner license.
- Pass the Indiana CORE school counseling exam.
- Complete CPR/Heimlich maneuver certification and suicide prevention training.
- Earn supervised experience
- Apply for and receive an Advanced Practitioner (AP) license online.
More about these career pathways can be found on our school counseling career guide.
Licensed Clinical Addictions Counselor (LCAC)
The Behavioral Health and Human Services Board is responsible for Indiana counseling licensure for licensed clinical addictions counselors (LCACs). LCACs are the most highly-trained substance abuse counseling professionals in Indiana and provide specialized services to clients with substance abuse challenges. These services may include using clinical instruments and assessments, developing individual addiction treatment plans, using psychotherapy techniques to treat addiction and addictive behaviors, and engaging in private practice. A graduate degree with at least 27 credits in addiction-related areas and 700-hour practicum is required. More information about specific course requirements can be found in the application package. For bachelor’s degree-holders, the Licensed Addictions Counselor (LAC) is available, along with the related Licensed Addictions Counselor Associate (LACA) credential. The steps to becoming an LCAC are:
- Register as a Licensed Clinical Addiction Counselor Associate (LCACA) and request permission to take either the IC&RC Advanced Alcohol & Drug Counselors exam or the NAADAC Master Addiction Counselor exam.
- Earn supervised experience.
- Complete a fingerprinting and criminal background check.
- Receive confirmation of your LCAC license via email.
Other Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Indiana
- Addiction Consultant in Training (ACIT)
- Certified Addiction and Drug Abuse Consultant I (CADAC I)
- Certified Addiction and Drug Abuse Consultant II (CADAC II)
- Certified Addiction and Drug Abuse Consultant III (CADAC III)
- Certified Addiction and Drug Abuse Consultant IV (CADAC IV)
- Certified Addiction and Drug Abuse Consultant V (CADAC V)
- Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS)
- Certified Co-occurring Disorders Professional (CCDP)
- Certified Co-occurring Disorders Professional-Diplomate (CCDP-D)
- Certified Criminal Justice Specialist (CCJP)
- Certified Peer Addiction Recovery Coach I (CAPRC I)
- Certified Peer Addiction Recovery Coach II (CAPRC II)
- Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS)
- Medication Assisted Treatment Specialist (MATS)
Read more about substance abuse counselors and what they do on our substance abuse counseling career guide.
Other Professional Counseling Careers
Professional counseling is a broad field with many subdisciplines that involve working with diverse clients and mental health issues. Some other of counseling careers you can pursue with your counseling degree include:
- Rehabilitation Counselor
- Gambling Counselor
- Genetic Counselor
- Youth Counselor
- Guidance Counselor
- Pastoral Counselor
- Recreational Therapist
Indiana Counseling Career and Salary Information
In Indiana, 10,170 individuals work in the main counseling fields with the highest number working as educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (4,110).1-5 Those in the counselors, all other field earn the highest average salary ($54,020), followed by educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors ($51,560) and marriage and family therapists ($47,110).5,3,2 Salaries vary based on location as Bloomington ranks fourth among metropolitan areas in the country for the highest average substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselor salary ($70,460).1 Among nonmetropolitan areas, central Indiana ranks second in the country for marriage and family therapist salaries ($59,280).2
Several of the main counseling fields are projected to experience growth above national averages through 2026, including marriage and family therapists (25.4% compared to 23.4%), mental health counselors (23.6% compared to 23.1%), rehabilitation counselors (15.9% compared to 12.7%), and counselors, all others (14.3% compared to 14.2%).6 While marriage and family therapists are projected to experience the fastest growth of any other counseling category, mental health counselors may see the highest number of new positions during this time (570), followed by educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (430) and substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors (270).6
|Occupation||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Counselors, All Other||490||$54,020|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||4,110||$51,560|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||720||$47,110|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||3,390||$44,550|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1-5
Counseling Associations in Indiana
- Indiana Counseling Association (ICA): An organization that connects those with an Indiana counseling license through a range of networking, training, and conference opportunities.
- Indiana Counselor’s Association on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (ICAADA): A training organization that provides additional credentialing, certification, and training opportunities for substance abuse counselors working in Indiana.
- Indiana School Counselor Association (ISCA): A professional development organization committed to advancing the profession through training and networking opportunities.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of degree should I complete to become a mental health counselor in Indiana?
To earn LMHC licensure, the Board requires at least a 60-credit graduate degree in mental health counseling or a related field. Acceptable related fields include clinical social work, psychology, human services, human development, family relations, counseling, or any program accredited by either the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP) or the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE). If the degree does not meet these requirements, it may be accepted if it includes at least 48 credits human growth and development; social and cultural foundations of counseling; the helping relationship; group dynamics, processes, counseling, and consultation; lifestyle and career development; assessment and appraisal of individuals; research and program evaluation; professional orientation and ethics; foundations of mental health counseling; contextual dimensions of mental health counseling; knowledge and skills for the practice of mental health counseling and psychotherapy; and, at least a 700 clock hour practicum.
What are the continuing education (CE) requirements for professional counselors in Indiana?
LMHCs, LMFTs, and LCACs have the same CE requirements for license renewal. Licensees must complete 40 hours of CE with at least 20 hours of Category I activities and one hour of ethics training during each year of the two-year renewal period. Category I activities are defined as formal education or training programs. A list of approved Category I CE providers and approved activity examples are provided by the Board. Category II encompasses self-study activities and may not account for more than half of the required CE hours in each renewal period.
Can I complete my counseling degree online or part-time in Indiana?
Yes, many institutions offer counseling courses or even full counseling degrees online or on a part-time basis. The Board accepts online and part-time degrees as long as they meet the general education requirements. If you plan to complete an online degree based in another state, you should ensure you can complete the required practicum hours in a location that is convenient for you.
What is the difference between the Licensed Addictions Counselor (LAC) and Licensed Clinical Addictions Counselor (LCAC) licenses?
While LACs and LCACs both provide substance abuse counseling services, there are many significant differences between these two types of licensure. The minimum requirement for an LAC license is a bachelor’s degree, while LCACs are required to have a master’s degree. LCACs have additional training that allows them to provide clinical services, work in private practice, and earn supervision abilities. LACs do not have these privileges.
Where can I find a job as a counselor in Indiana?
Indiana’s professional counselors work in all areas of the state. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metropolitan area, which is partly located in Indiana, ranks highly for counselor employment in a number of areas. It is second in the country for educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (9,790) and counselors, all others (1,060), fifth in the country for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (8,790), and seventh for rehabilitation counselors (2,290).3,1,4
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