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. If you already hold a license in another state and are looking to practice in Louisiana, visit our Counseling License Reciprocity Guide.
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 (the Board) issues licenses for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists, while the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) issues ancillary certificates for school counselors. The Louisiana Addictive Disorder Regulatory Authority (LA-ADRA) is responsible for substance abuse certification.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensing Process
The Louisiana State Board of Licensed Professional Counselors (the Board) 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 a regionally-accredited school to apply. In Louisiana, LPCs prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders in 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 application is available online. As of November 2022, the application fee is $100. You will also need to submit official transcripts along with your application and 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 post-master’s 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 (in addition to the $200 application and licensure fee, as of November 2022).
LPC 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 had 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, a background check, and proof of 40 continuing education hours (CEHs) within two years of their application date. Those who do not meet the experience threshold must meet all education, exam, supervision, and background check requirements. To apply, submit an application, exam results from either the NCE or NCMHCE, and a license verification form. The application fee is $300 as of November 2022.
Counselor License 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 November 2022). Licensees must complete 40 continuing education hours (CEH) during each renewal period and must submit an updated declaration of practices and procedures form if there have been any changes. CE activities should be offered by the American Counseling Association (ACA), its divisions, regions, and state branches, the Louisiana Counseling Association (LCA), or the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). For details on approved types of CEH and required content areas, refer to the rules and regulations. 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 (the Board). You must complete a COAMFTE-approved or a 60-credit graduate degree in marriage and family therapy, clinical mental health counseling, or a related field from a regionally-accredited institution. The LMFT licensure process requires candidates to:
- Apply as a Provisional Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (PLMFT) and submit a background check and official transcripts.
- Earn 3,000 hours of supervised experience, including 2,000 hours of direct client service, 1,000 hours of indirect client service, and 200 hours of face-to-face supervision.
- Take the Marital and Family Therapy National Examination from the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB).
- Apply for 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 (LDOE) issues ancillary certificates for school counselors. To receive provisional licensure, you must hold a current certification as an LPC, LMFT, licensed clinical social worker, school psychologist, or psychologist and have two years of experience as a mental health counselor, school psychologist, or social worker within the last five years. 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:
- Apply for a provisional mental health counselor certification.
- Pass the Praxis Professional School Counselor exam.
- Complete two years of experience as a provisional mental health counselor.
- Apply for an upgrade to the qualified mental health counselor ancillary certificate.
- Receive your qualified mental health counselor 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). Credentialed 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 in substance abuse and related topics. 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 in the core functions of substance abuse counseling and earn supervised experience (2,000 hours for LACs, 4,000 hours for CACs, 6,000 hours for RACs).
- Pass the required IC&RC Alcohol and Drug Counselor exam (CAC and RAC applicants) or the Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor exam (LAC applicants).
- Apply for and receive your substance abuse counselor credential.
Optional Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Louisiana
In addition to the three credentials listed above, the LA-ADRA offers several other certifications that, while not required to practice substance abuse counseling, will help to further demonstrate your specialized skills and experience. Some examples include:
- Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS)
- Counselor in Training (CIT)
- Licensed Prevention Professional (LPP)
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
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2021, there are approximately 11,390 individuals in Louisiana working in the main counseling groups.1-5 Salaries range from $38,060 for marriage and family therapists and $39,970 for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors to $58,480 for educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors.1-3 Rehabilitation counselors earn $46,860, which is above the national average ($44,740).4
The job market outlook for Louisiana counselors varies depending on the area of focus. According to Projections Central, educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselor jobs are projected to grow by 5.8% resulting in 340 new positions through 2030.6 Marriage and family therapists are projected to have the fastest reported growth rate (12.5%) overall, resulting in 10 new jobs, followed by substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (11.3% and 460 new jobs).6 Rehabilitation counselor and “all other” counselor jobs are not projected to increase through 2030.6
|Average Annual Salary1-5
|Counselors, All Other
|Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors
|Marriage and Family Therapists
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
Counseling Associations in Louisiana
- Louisiana Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (LAMFT): Professional organization that provides continuing education and professional development opportunities for LMFTs across the state.
- Louisiana Association of Substance Abuse Counselors and Training (LASACT): Professional organization that conducts counselor training, provides skill workshops, and hosts an annual conference.
- 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, and career counselors and advisors earn the highest salary ($58,480), followed by rehabilitation counselors ($46,860), “all other” counselors ($43,600), and substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors ($39,970).3,4,5,1
Where are counseling jobs available in Louisiana?
Of the 11,390 counselors working in Louisiana, most are employed as educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors(5,810), substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (3,860), and ‘all other’ counselors (1,360).1-5 The northeast nonmetropolitan area of Louisiana has the highest employment of ‘all other’ counselors of any nonmetropolitan area in the United States.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