Louisiana Counseling License Requirements
Louisiana offers a range of counseling career opportunities with over 11,000 individuals currently working in the state across various counseling fields.1-5 Those interested in mental health counseling can earn the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) designation, with additional types of counseling licensure in Louisiana available to those with other interests. Each type of Louisiana counseling license has a different pathway with different steps and requirements. This guide outlines the requirements you will need to meet to work as a professional counselor in the state and how to submit an application to the right oversight body.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Counselor in Louisiana
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensing Process
- Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Louisiana
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
- School Counselor
- Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC)
- Other Professional Counseling Careers
- Louisiana Counseling Career and Salary Information
- Counseling Associations in Louisiana
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Become a Counselor in Louisiana
The requirements for professional counselors in Louisiana often include a graduate degree and testing requirements. Various counseling schools in Louisiana offer degrees designed to help students meet the state’s specific licensure requirements. Many licensure processes also require candidates to gain supervised work experience before they are eligible for full licensure.
1. Decide which area of counseling to pursue.
The first step in your counseling career is to decide which area of counseling to pursue. The type of counseling you are interested in will determine the path you need to take to become a professional counselor as requirements vary depending on the type of counseling you wish to practice. Choosing an area of focus first will help you pick the right degree program and coursework.
2. Complete the education required for your preferred area of counseling practice.
Most types of counseling licenses in Louisiana require a graduate degree to become licensed. For example, professional counselors must have a master’s degree in mental health counseling or a related field; marriage and family therapists must have a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or a related field; and school counselors must have a CACREP-accredited graduate degree. Substance abuse counselors can earn certification with a high school diploma, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree, depending on the level of certification sought.
3. Get licensed to practice counseling in Louisiana.
The final step in the licensure process is submitting an application to the correct board for the type of counseling you’d like to practice. The Louisiana State Board of Licensed Professional Counselors issues licenses for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists, while the Louisiana Department of Education issues ancillary certificates for school counselors. The Louisiana Addictive Disorder Regulatory Authority is responsible for substance abuse certification.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensing Process
The Louisiana State Board of Licensed Professional Counselors issues licenses for mental health counselors in Louisiana, known as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs). The Board does not provide a list of approved programs, but you must have a 60-credit graduate degree in mental health counseling or a related field from an accredited school to apply. Applications can be made by creating a profile through the online portal on the Board’s website. In Louisiana, LPCs prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders to individuals, and groups, which can include providing psychotherapy, consulting, engaging in research, and making referrals. If you would like to know more about what professional counselors do, see our mental health counselor career guide. To become an LPC in Louisiana, follow these steps:
1. Register as a Provisional Licensed Professional Counselor (PLPC).
To begin the licensure process, you must register as a provisional licensed professional counselor (PLPC). The paper application is available online, but some sections can be completed using the online portal as well. As of September 2019, the application fee is $100. After submitting, you will need to complete state and federal background checks within 60 days. You can complete the background checks either in-person at the LA State Police Headquarters in Baton Rouge, which takes up to two weeks, or by mail, which can take up to eight weeks.
2. Accrue supervised experience.
Once you have received your PLPC license, you must earn at least 3,000 hours of supervised clinical work experience supervised by an approved professional. This should include at least 1,900 hours of direct client contact, 1,000 hours of indirect client contact, and 100 face-to-face supervision hours. This experience should be accrued in no less than two years, but not more than six years. Your supervisor must have a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor license (LPC-S) issued by the Board; this license requires licensure as an LPC, three years of mental health counseling experience, and evidence of supervisory training.
3. Pass the required exam.
Louisiana accepts both the National Counselor Exam (NCE) and the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE) administered by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). The NCE exam tests your knowledge of counseling theory and interventions through 200 multiple choice questions. The NCMHCE is a scenario-based exam that tests for clinical counseling knowledge. Suggested exam prep materials are available through the NBCC.
4. Request and receive your LPC license.
At this stage of the licensure process, your required work experience should be complete and you can submit the remaining parts of your application, such as the documentation of experience form. Applications are reviewed on a monthly basis and should be submitted at least seven days before a scheduled board meeting. It can take up to eight weeks for the Board to communicate the decision to the applicant. Expedited processing within five business days is available for an additional $60 fee (as of September 2019).
Professional Counselor Licensure by Endorsement in Louisiana
Louisiana does not have any formal reciprocity agreements for licensure but it does accept applications for endorsement from candidates who have licenses in good standing in other states. Applicants who have been actively practicing in other states for at least five years are not required to meet the educational and supervision requirements, but are required to submit exam scores and the background check. Those who do not meet the experience threshold must meet all education, exam, supervision, and background check requirements. To apply, send the application form, exam results from either the NCE or NCMHCE, the license verification form, and a declaration of practices and procedures. The application fee is $300 as of September 2019.
Counselor Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information
Licenses must be renewed every two years by June 30. Licenses are issued in both even-numbered and odd-numbered years and the expiration date will vary based on when the initial license was issued. The renewal period is April 1-June 30 and renewals cost $170 (as of September 2019). Licensees must complete 40 hours of continuing education (CE) during each renewal period. CE activities should be offered by pre-approved providers or qualified presenters, as defined by the Board. You must keep all documentation of CE activities as at least 10% of all renewal applications are audited each year.
Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Louisiana
Other types of counseling licensure are available in Louisiana in addition to mental health counseling. Some of the other major types of Louisiana counseling licensure include licensed marriage and family therapists, school counselors, and substance abuse counselors.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
Louisiana LMFTs engage in the diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders with individuals, couples, and families using relevant psychotherapeutic and family systems theories. Licenses are issued by the Louisiana State Board of Licensed Professional Counselors through either paper applications or the online portal. You must have a 60-credit graduate degree in marriage and family therapy, clinical mental health counseling, or a related field that is approved by COAMFTE. The LMFT licensure process requires candidates to:
- Register as a Provisional Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (PLMFT) and submit a background check.
- Earn supervised experience.
- Take the AMFTRB marriage and family therapy exam.
- Request and receive your LMFT license.
Additional information about licensed marriage and family therapist careers can be found on our LMFT career guide.
The Louisiana Department of Education issues ancillary certificates for school counselors. You can apply using the ancillary application packet and the application fee is $50 (as of September 2019). You must have a master’s degree from a CACREP-accredited program with either a 100-hour practicum or a 600-hour internship in a school setting. In Louisiana, school counselors provide academic and developmental assistance to students from kindergarten to twelfth grade to promote health, wellness, and academic achievement. To receive a school counseling license, follow these steps:
- Pass the Praxis exam Professional School Counselor exam.
- Apply for the school counselor ancillary certificate, including the application form, experience verification, and university transcripts.
- Receive your school counseling license through the DOE’s online portal.
More about the school counselor pathway can be found on our school counseling career guide.
Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC)
Louisiana’s Addictive Disorder Regulatory Authority (LA-ADRA) issues three credentials for substance abuse professionals: Registered Addiction Counselor (RAC), Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC), and Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC). Certified individuals are proficient in 12 core substance abuse counseling areas, including screening, assessment, treatment planning, and crisis intervention. All candidates must show proof of completing at least 270 clock hours of education including at least 180 hours of substance abuse content and six hours in ethics. The minimum degree requirements differ for each certification: RAC certification requires a high school diploma, while CACs must have a bachelor’s degree and LACs must have a graduate degree. To earn substance abuse counseling certification, you must follow these steps:
- Complete 300 hours of supervised practical training and earn supervised experience.
- Pass the required IC&RC Alcohol and Drug Counselor exam (CAC and RAC applicants) or the Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor exam (LAC applicants).
- Request and receive your substance abuse counselor credential.
Other Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Louisiana
- Addiction Treatment Assistant (ATA)
- Advanced Alcohol & Drug Counselor (AADC)
- Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC)
- Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS)
- Certified Prevention Professional (CPP)
- Clinical Supervisor (CS)
- Counselor in Training (CIT)
- Certified Criminal Justice Addictions Professional (CCJP)
- Licensed Prevention Professional (LPP)
- Peer Recovery (PR)
- Prevention Specialist (PS)
- Prevention Specialist in Training (PSIT)
- Registered Prevention Professional (RPP)
Learn more about substance abuse counselors on our substance abuse counseling career guide.
Other Professional Counseling Careers
Professional counseling is a broad field with many career opportunities. If you would like to explore other ways to use your counseling degree to develop a career in this area, some options include:
- Rehabilitation Counselor
- Gambling Counselor
- Genetic Counselor
- Youth Counselor
- Guidance Counselor
- Pastoral Counselor
- Recreational Therapist
Louisiana Counseling Career and Salary Information
In Louisiana, there are approximately 11,180 individuals working in the main counseling groups, although data for marriage and family therapists is not available.1-5 Salaries range from $36,870 for “counselors, all other” and $40,380 for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors to $55,500 for educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors.5,1,3 Rehabilitation counselors earn $44,650, which is above the national average ($39,930).4
The job market outlook for Louisiana counselors varies depending on the area of focus. Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselor jobs are projected to grow at a similar rate compared to the national average (12.3% compared to 12.6%) resulting in the highest number of reported new positions (450) through 2026.6 Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors are projected to have the fastest reported growth rate (16.7%) overall, resulting in 120 new jobs, followed by mental health counselors (15.8% and 400 new jobs).6 Rehabilitation counselors and “counselors, all other” are projected to grow by 7.2% and 5.9% respectively, resulting in 60 and 150 new jobs in these areas of practice.6
|Occupation||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Counselors, All Other||2,190||$36,870|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||4,970||$55,500|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||—||—|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||3,550||$40,380|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1-5
Counseling Associations in Louisiana
- Louisiana Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (LAMFT): A professional organization that provides continuing education and professional development opportunities for LMFTs across the state.
- Louisiana Counseling Association (LCA): An organization that supports all types of counselors and counseling students in Louisiana through professional development activities and promotes the profession through public education and state advocacy.
- Louisiana School Counselor Association (LSCA): The state branch of the American School Counselor Association and a division of the Louisiana Counseling Association, this organization holds an annual conference for school counselors and provides grants for students in Louisiana.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the continuing education requirements for counselors in Louisiana?
In Louisiana, mental health counselors must ensure they meet continuing education (CE) requirements to keep their licenses active. LPCs must complete at least 40 hours of CE during each two-year renewal period with at least three hours in ethics and six hours in diagnosis, assessment, and treatment. Up to 20 hours can be completed through online methods; up to 10 hours can be completed through home study; up to 10 hours can be completed by giving a presentation at a rate of five credited hours per one-hour presentation; up to 10 hours can be credited for receiving counseling services as a client; up to 10 hours can be credited for research activities; and up to 10 hours can be attributed to peer supervision. CE must be taken through an approved provider or offered by a qualified presenter as defined by the Board.
What types of substance abuse counseling certifications are offered?
The Louisiana Addictive Disorder Regulatory Authority (LA-ADRA) offers three certifications for substance abuse counselors. These certifications differ based on the education and experience of the candidate. Certified Addiction Counselors (CACs) must have a high school diploma and complete 6,000 hours of supervised work experience; Registered Addiction Counselors (RACs) must have a bachelor’s degree and complete 4,000 hours of supervised work experience; and Licensed Addiction Counselors (LACs) must have a graduate degree and 2,000 hours of supervised work experience. Each type of certification requires successful exam results as well. CAC and RAC candidates must take the IC&RC Alcohol and Drug Counselor exam, while LAC candidates must take the Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor exam.
Are there counseling careers without a degree in Louisiana?
Most counseling licenses in Louisiana require a degree, with the exception of substance abuse counseling. Mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, and school counseling all require at least a master’s degree in a related field with specific coursework requirements. Substance abuse counselors can earn certification with a high school diploma, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree depending on the type of certification sought.
What type of salary can I earn as a counselor in Louisiana?
In Louisiana, counselor salaries vary depending on the area of expertise. Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors earn the highest salary ($55,500), followed by rehabilitation counselors ($44,650), substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors ($40,380), and “all other counselors” ($36,870).3,4,1,5 Rehabilitation counselors in Louisiana earn above the national average, which is $39,930.4 No data is available for marriage and family therapists.2
Where are counseling jobs available in Louisiana?
Of the 11,180 counselors working in Louisiana, most are employed as educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (4,970), substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (3,550), and “counselors, all other” (2,190).1-5 Louisiana has the fourth-highest employment level of “counselors, all other” in the country and four Louisiana metropolitan areas (Hammond, Alexandria, Houma-Thibodaux, New Orleans-Metairie) rank in the top 10 for overall concentration of jobs in this category (second, fourth, sixth, and ninth, respectively).5 The southwest and northeast nonmetropolitan areas of Louisiana also tie for first among nonmetropolitan areas in the country for jobs in the “counselors, all other” category (260 each).5
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