Maryland Counseling License Requirements
In Maryland, the Department of Health’s Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists regulates the licensure of Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors (LCPCs), which is the primary professional counselor license offered in the state. Maryland is home to nearly 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 counselors 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 Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
- 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.
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 Marriage and Family Counselor (LMFC) and a master’s in school counseling is required to become a school counselor. Unlike in some other states, even a substance abuse counselor (Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCADC)) in Maryland needs 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 target 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 regulates licenses for LCPCs, LMFTs, and LCADCs. School counselors are regulated by the Maryland Department of Education.
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) Licensing Process
The Maryland Department of Health’s Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists regulates the licensure of LCPCs in the state. Maine 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, you will need a master’s or doctoral degree in professional counseling from a Board-approved institution that includes specific coursework related to counseling, supervised clinical experience, and to pass a national examination before you apply. To become an LCPC in Maryland, you will 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) while you accrue your post-graduate supervised professional experience. This license will be good for two years and costs $275 as of August 2019. Submit your application here.
2. Accrue supervised clinical experience.
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 during your master’s program. If you have a doctoral degree, you will need two years (2,000 hours) of supervised clinical experience, including one year of post-doctoral experience.
3. Submit an application to the Board.
To apply as a LCPC, you will need to submit a notarized application along with an application fee of $200 as of August 2019. You will include 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.
4. Pass the National Counselors Examination (NCE) and Maryland Jurisprudence Exam.
Once the Board reviews your application, they will decide if you are eligible to take the NCE and Maryland Law Exam. NCE exam information can be found on the Board’s website.
5. Receive your LCPC license.
Once the Board has received your test scores, you will receive your license to practice clinical professional counseling in Maryland, which will be available online. 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 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 have met or exceeded Maryland’s licensing standards. You will use the Out of State LCPC Application. You must include 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 Maryland Jurisprudence Exam 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 Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information
To renew your LCPC license in Maryland, required biannually, you will need to pay a renewal fee of $275 plus a $26 Maryland Health Care Commission fee for a total of $301 as of August 2019. Each renewal period, 40 continuing education units (CEUs) are required, with at least 30 being in coursework, workshops, or seminars and up to 10 being in informal coursework.
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 marriage and family therapists, school counselors, and substance abuse counselors.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
The Department of Health’s Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists regulates LMFTs in Maryland as well as LCPCs. The Board requires LMFT candidates to have an accredited master’s degree or doctoral degree 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 LMFT in Maryland:
- Complete two years or 2,000 hours of supervised clinical experience.
- Submit an application and request approval to sit for the required licensing exams.
- Pass the Examination in Marital and Family Therapy and the Maryland Jurisprudence Exam.
- Receive your LMFT 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. The Maryland Department of Education regulates school counselors in the state. Applicants must have a master’s degree in school counseling or school guidance and counseling. The basic process to become a school counselor is:
- Obtain a National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) certificate.
- Complete two years of teaching or school counseling experience at a school.
- 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)
If you are interested in becoming a Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCADC) in Maryland, allowing you to counsel, diagnose, and treat individuals or groups, you must become licensed by the Department of Health’s Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists. A master’s or doctoral degree in a health and human services counseling field is required. After obtaining your graduate degree, you must:
- Submit a pre-application and application to become a Licensed Graduate Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LGADC).
- Get a Criminal Records History Check.
- Gain post-graduate supervised experience in alcohol and drug counseling.
- Submit an application to the Board.
- Take and pass the NAADAC Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) exam and the Maryland Jurisprudence Exam.
- Receive your licence to practice as an LCADC.
For more information on a career in substance abuse counseling, read our substance abuse counselor career guide.
Other Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Maryland
- Certified Supervised Counselor – Alcohol and Drug (CSC-AD)
- Alcohol and Drug Trainee (ADT)
- Alcohol and Drug Trainee Supervisor (ADTS)
- Associate Prevention Specialist (APS)
- Certified Associate Counselor – Alcohol and Drug (CAC-AD)
- Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS)
- Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Family Endorsement (CPRS-F)
- Certified Prevention Professional (CPP)
- Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS)
- Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Supervisor (LCADS)
- Integrated Forensic Peer Recovery Specialist (i-FPRS)
- Registered Peer Supervisor (RPS)
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
Most Maryland counselors are in the educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselor category (6,360).2 Rehabilitation counselors in the California-Lexington Park, Maryland metropolitan area are the top-paid counselors in that category of any other metro area in the US, with an average salary of $77,370.4 Maryland’s nonmetropolitan area has both the highest employment and the highest concentration of marriage and family therapists.3
The general job outlook for counselors in Maryland is a bit less positive than the national average. Mental health counselors (Projections Central categorizes them on their own) can expect to see the highest increase in jobs, with a 20.8% increase expected between 2016 and 2026, which is still a bit lower than the 23.1% growth expected nationally for that category.6 Rehabilitation counselor jobs in Maryland are expected to increase by 11.6% by 2026, which is close to the national expected growth of 12.7%.6
|Occupation||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Counselors, All Other||420||$39,370|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||6,360||$65,910|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||1,360||$49,650|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||4,380||$46,350|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1-5
Counseling Associations in Maryland
- Maryland Counseling Association (MCA): Maryland’s branch of the American Counseling Association aiming to promote confidence and trust from the public through policy change, training, and professional development opportunities.
- Maryland School Counselor Association (MSCA): In existence for over 50 years, works to advocate for and promote school counseling by supporting current and future school counselors.
- Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors of Marland (LCPCM): Advocates for LCPCs and LGPCs by providing professional growth and networking opportunities and lobbying for the profession.
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, the 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 to have 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 highest-earning practice area in Maryland includes educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors, who earn an average of $65,910 per year.3
Do I need a degree to become a professional counselor in Maryland?
Most of the types of counseling careers discussed on this page do require a graduate degree. The only exception is substance abuse counseling, which offers one credential to those with associate’s degrees and another to those with 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, mental health counselors can expect the fastest growth through 2026, with a 20.8% increase expected based on a total of 570 new jobs expected to be added.6 The next fastest-growing practice area is expected to be substance abuse and behavioral health counseling at 16.4% growth projected, which could result in approximately 420 new jobs through 2026 in addition to replacements.6
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