Maryland Counseling License Requirements
In Maryland, the Department of Health’s Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists (the Board) regulates the licensure of Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors (LCPCs), the primary professional counselor license offered in the state. As of May 2021, Maryland is home to over 15,000 professional counselors, working in various practice areas of the profession.1-5 If you are interested in becoming a counselor in Maryland, you will need to be familiar with the state’s regulations and licensure processes. Continue reading below to find out how to become an LCPC and learn about other types of counseling careers in the state.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Counselor in Maryland
- Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) Licensing Process
- Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Maryland
- Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist (LCMFT)
- School Counselor
- Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCADC)
- Other Professional Counseling Careers
- Maryland Counseling Career and Salary Information
- Counseling Associations in Maryland
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Become a Counselor in Maryland
Most types of professional counseling in Maryland require licensure to practice. A master’s degree is usually the minimum education required, and most types of licenses require that you take a national exam and complete a certain number of supervised experience hours. There are several schools in Maryland that offer counseling programs to prepare you for this process, which typically includes the steps outlined below. If you already hold a license in another state and are looking to practice in Maryland, visit our Counseling License Reciprocity Guide.
1. Decide which area of counseling to pursue.
The first step to becoming a counselor in Maryland is to choose the area of counseling you wish to practice, as the pathway to each counseling type involves different educational requirements and steps. Once you have a clear idea of the type of counseling you want to practice, then you can begin to pursue the education you need.
2. Earn the degree(s) required for your counseling practice area.
Most professional licensed counselors in Maryland need a master’s degree or doctoral degree to practice. You will need a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling to become a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC). A master’s in marriage and family counseling is required to become a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist (LCMFT) and a master’s in school counseling is required to become a school counselor. Unlike in some other states, to work independently as a clinical substance abuse counselor (Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCADC) in Maryland you will need a master’s degree in a health and human services counseling field.
3. Get licensed to practice counseling in Maryland.
Once you have obtained the degree related to your chosen counseling license type, you will be ready to follow the remaining steps to become licensed through the corresponding Maryland licensing board. The Maryland Department of Health’s Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists (the Board) regulates licenses for LCPCs, LCMFTs, and LCADCs. School counselors are regulated by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE).
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) Licensing Process
The Maryland Department of Health’s Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists (the Board) regulates the licensure of LCPCs in the state. LCPCs apply counseling principles and methods to diagnose, prevent, and treat their clients’ psychological, emotional, or mental conditions. If you would like to learn more about a career as a professional counselor, read our mental health counselor career guide. To become an LCPC in Maryland, you will need to complete a master’s with at least 60 graduate credit hours or a doctoral degree with at least 90 graduate credit hours in professional counseling or a related field. The graduate degree must be from a regionally-accredited Board-approved institution that includes specific coursework related to counseling, including a supervised clinical internship, externship, field experience, or practicum placement with at least 125 hour of face-to-face counseling with clients. To become an LCPC in Maryland, follow these steps:
1. Apply to become a Licensed Graduate Professional Counselor (LGPC).
After you have completed your graduate degree, you can apply to become a Licensed Graduate Professional Counselor (LGPC). With this provisional license, you can begin to provide clinical counseling services under the supervision of an approved counseling professional. This post-graduate supervised professional experience is necessary to become fully licensed in the state. As of November 2022, the LGPC license has an application fee of $200 and a license fee of $150 due once your application is approved. The license is good for two years but can be extended if needed. Paper applications are available on the Board website and must be submitted by mail.
2. Pass the National Counselors Examination (NCE) and Maryland Professional Counselors and Therapists Law Assessment (MLA).
Once the Board reviews your application, they will decide if you are eligible to take the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and the Maryland Professional Counselors and Therapists Law Assessment. You must pass both exams before the LGPC license will be issued. Instructions on how to register for the NCE exam can be found on the Board’s website. The NCE Handbook can be a useful tool to prepare for the exam.
3. Accrue supervised clinical experience.
Once you have received your LGPC license, you can accrue supervised clinical hours. If you have a master’s degree, you will need to complete three years (at least 3,000 hours) of supervised clinical experience. One of those years of experience can be completed during your master’s program. If you have a doctoral degree, you will need two years (2,000 hours) of supervised clinical experience, including at least one year of post-doctoral experience.
4. Submit an application to the Board for Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) licensure.
Once you have met the supervised clinical experience requirement, apply to become a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC). You will need to submit a notarized paper application by mail along with a combined application and licensure fee of $350 (as of November 2022). The application package includes professional references, documentation of your supervised clinical experience, a passport-size photo, Clinical Supervision Verification forms for each counseling experience you had, and Professional Reference Assessments. Along with your application, you will also need to submit to a Criminal History Records Check (CHRC).
5. Receive your LCPC license.
Once the Board has reviewed your application and your test scores, you will receive your license to practice clinical professional counseling in Maryland. Proof of licensure is available online through the Board License Verification System. If all application items are in order, you can expect to receive your license within seven to 10 business days of passing the exams.
Professional Counselor Licensure by Reciprocity or Endorsement in Maryland
If you are applying to become an LCPC in Maryland but are already licensed in another state, the Board will evaluate your credentials and degree information to determine if you are eligible for licensure by endorsement or reciprocity. You must have a license from a state whose education and experience requirements meet or exceed Maryland’s licensing standards. You will use the Out of State LCPC Application to apply. The application includes a copy of your current license, official transcripts confirming a graduate degree in professional counseling from a Board-approved institution, proof of your equivalent supervised clinical experience, and NCE scores. You will also need to take the MLA and submit to a criminal background check before you can become licensed in the state. If the Board determines that your education and experience meet their standards, you will receive your license to become an LCPC in Maryland.
Counselor License Renewal and Continuing Education Information
In Maryland, LCPC licenses expire bi-annually on January 31 and must be renewed online through the online portal. Licensees are required to complete 40 continuing education units (CEUs), with at least 30 CEUs in coursework, workshops, or seminars and a maximum of 10 CEUs in informal coursework or individualized learning. The law also requires all health care practitioners to complete an approved implicit bias training course and an attestation for this training must be submitted with license renewals. A new Criminal History Records Check (CHRC) must also be submitted if it has been more than six years since the previous check on file with the Board.
Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Maryland
If you are interested in becoming a counselor other than an LCPC, Maryland also offers other counseling license types, including licensed clinical marriage and family therapists, school counselors, and substance abuse counselors.
Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist (LCMFT)
The Maryland Department of Health’s Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists (the Board) also regulates LCMFTs and licensed graduate marriage and family therapists (LGMFTs) in Maryland. LCMFTs are trained to provide individual, couples, and family therapy using family systems theories and techniques as well as assess and treat mental and emotional health issues and disorders impacting families and relationships. The Board requires LCMFT candidates to have an accredited master’s degree (with a minimum of 60 graduate credit hours) or doctoral degree (with a minimum of 90 graduate credit hours) in marriage and family therapy or a related field and certain coursework requirements must be met. In addition to obtaining a graduate degree, you will follow these steps to become an LCMFT in Maryland:
- Submit the LGMFT application.
- Complete 2,000 hours (over at least two years) of postgraduate supervised clinical experience in marriage and family therapy, with at least 1,000 hours of face-to-face client contact and 100 hours of face-to-face clinical supervision.
- Submit an LCMFT application.
- Pass the Marital and Family Therapy (MFT) National Examination from the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) and the Maryland Law Assessment (MLA).
- Receive your LCMFT license.
If you would like to learn more about what licensed marriage and family therapists do, read our LMFT career guide.
School counselors in Maryland address personal and academic growth, social and emotional growth, and educational and career choices across all grades from PreK-12. The Maryland State Department of Education (DOE) regulates school counselor licenses in the state, which are considered Specialist Certificates. All applicants must have a master’s degree in school counseling or school guidance and counseling. The program should also be approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Relation Educational Programs (CACREP) or include 500 hours in a supervised practicum. If your program did not meet these criteria, you must obtain a National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) certificate and two years of experience as a teacher or school counselor before becoming licensed. After completing a graduate degree that does not meet the CACREP or supervised practicum requirements, you should:
- Become certified as a National Certified Counselor (NCC) through theNBCC.
- Complete two years of teaching or school counseling experience at a school.
- Apply for and receive your school counseling license.
For more information on becoming a school counselor, read our school counselor career guide.
Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCADC)
The Maryland Department of Health’s Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists (the Board) is also responsible for regulating substance abuse counselors in Maryland. Substance abuse counselors in the state assess, counsel, and treat individuals or groups with biopsychosocial, mental health and addiction issues related to alcohol and drugs. There are several ways to become a substance abuse counselor in Maryland. Each pathway has different education and clinical experience requirements; however, all applicants must have a degree in health, human services, or a related field, or meet specific relevant coursework requirements. Clinical experience is also required.
Individuals who did not complete supervised internships or clinical experience as part of their education can apply for Alcohol and Drug Trainee (ADT) status. ADT status is not a certificate or license but rather an entry-level status requiring an associate degree in a health and human services counseling field from a Board-approved, regionally accredited school. ADT status enables you to practice under the supervision of an approved substance abuse counseling professional to earn the required experience so that you can apply for certification or licensure. It is good for two years and renewable for up to six years.
The first level of certification is Certified Supervised Counselor-Alcohol and Drug (CSC-AD), which requires an associate’s degree in a related field that includes specific relevant coursework. For the next level of certification (Certified Associate Counselor-Alcohol and Drug (CAC-AD), a bachelor’s degree is required. Independent licensure is available to applicants with a master’s or doctoral degree in a health, human services counseling field, or related field. The first stage is to become a Licensed Graduate Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LGADC). After completing the supervised experience, you may finally apply to become a Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCADC). LCADCs are also able to screen for and diagnose mental health conditions. To become a substance abuse counselor in Maryland, complete the required education and then follow these steps:
- Complete a state and federal Criminal Records History Check.
- Apply for ADT status, if required.
- Complete the required supervised clinical experience hours, if not already completed (1,000 hours for CSC-AD, CAC-AD, and LGADC; or 2,000 hours for LCADC).
- Submit an application to the Board.
- Take and pass the required exam (the National Certified Addiction Counselor, Level I (NCAC I) exam for ADT; the National Certified Addiction Counselor, Level II (NCAC II) for CSC-AD and CAC-AD; or the NAADAC Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) exam for LGADC and LCADC) and the Maryland Law Assessment (MLA).
- Receive your certificate or license to practice substance abuse counseling.
For more information on a career in substance abuse counseling, read our substance abuse counselor career guide.
Optional Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Maryland
If you are interested in additional substance abuse counseling credentials beyond certification and licensure by the state, there are several private organizations that offer optional opportunities to improve your skills and education. Earning other recognized credentials may help you stand out from other candidates in your job search.
- Maryland Association of Prevention Professionals and Advocates (MAPPA): Offers three tiers of certification based on the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) standards, including Associate Prevention Specialist (APS), Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS), and Certified Prevention Professional (CPP).
- Maryland Addiction and Behavioral-Health Professionals Certification Board (MABPCB): Offers voluntary credentialing programs to behavioral health workers in the state, such as Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS), Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor, (CCDC) and Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS).
- Prevention Technology Transfer Center Network (PTTC): Operates nationally with a regional office in Silver Spring to provide the Associate Prevention Specialist (APS) certification through the IC&RC.
Other Professional Counseling Careers
There are other types of counseling that may be available for Maryland residents. If you would like to learn more about any of these types of counseling, read our associated career pages below.
- Rehabilitation Counselor
- Gambling Counselor
- Genetic Counselor
- Youth Counselor
- Guidance Counselor
- Pastoral Counselor
- Recreational Therapist
Maryland Counseling Career and Salary Information
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 15,660 counselors working in Maryland as of May 2021.1-5 Most Maryland counselors were employed in the educational, guidance, career counselors and advisors category (6,170), followed by substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (5,520).1,3 Average annual salaries ranged from $42,990 for rehabilitation counselors to $72,730 for educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors.3,4 Maryland was ranked fifth for the highest average annual salary for counselors in educational, guidance, and career counseling positions ($72,730).3 The Washington-Arlington-Alexandria and Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metro areas, which include parts of Maryland as well as neighboring states, also ranked in the top 10 metropolitan areas with the highest employment level of educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors; rehabilitation counselors; and substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors.1,3,4
The general job outlook for counselors in Maryland through 2030 is positive with all types of counselor positions projected to grow above national averages.6 The projected job growth through 2030 varies depending on the type of counseling role from 12.9% for educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors to 23.3% for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors.6 Both rehabilitation counselors and all other types of counseling roles are projected to grow more than double the national rates at 22.1% and 17.4% respectively, compared to 10.4% and 9% nationally.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 Maryland
- Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors of Maryland (LCPCM): Advocates for LCPCs and LGPCs by providing professional growth and networking opportunities and lobbying for the profession.
- Maryland Association of Addiction Professionals (MAAP): State branch of the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC), providing advocacy and professional development to addiction professionals including certified and licensed individuals.
- Maryland Counseling Association (MCA): Maryland’s branch of the American Counseling Association (ACA) aiming to promote confidence and trust from the public through policy change, training, and professional development opportunities.
- Maryland School Counselor Association (MSCA): Works to advocate for and promote school counseling by offering webinars, resources and events that support current and future school counselors.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the minimum degree requirement for substance abuse counselors in Maryland?
Prospective substance abuse counselors have many options in the state. While it is possible to get an entry-level job in the field without a degree (under ADT status), an associate’s degree in counseling is required for the lowest alcohol and drug counselor credential (CSC-AD), but CSC-ADs must work under supervision. To be able to practice substance abuse counseling independently (not under supervision), the minimum degree you will need is a bachelor’s degree in counseling, which will qualify you to become a CAC-AD. For full clinical status as an LCADC, a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling is required.
What are the top-paying counselor jobs in Maryland?
According to the BLS, the counselors earning the highest average annual salaries in Maryland work as educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors and earn an average of $72,730 per year.3
Do I need a degree to become a professional counselor in Maryland?
Most of the counseling careers discussed on this page do require a graduate degree. The only exception is substance abuse counseling, which offers alternative credentials to those with associate’s or bachelor’s degrees. To work independently as an alcohol and drug counselor, though, you will need a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in counseling.
What are the fastest-growing practice areas of counseling in Maryland?
According to Projections Central, substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors can expect the fastest growth through 2030, with a 23.3% increase expected based on a total of 1,470 new jobs expected to be added between 2020 and 2030.6 The next fastest-growing practice area is expected to be rehabilitation counseling at 22.1% growth projected, which could result in approximately 570 new jobs through 2030 in addition to replacements.6
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, 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