Michigan Counseling License Requirements
There are several types of counseling licensure in Michigan; the main type is Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Unlike many other states, Michigan does not have specific requirements for clinical counseling beyond this license or continuing education requirements for LPCs. As of May 2021, there are over 18,350 counselors working in Michigan in the main counseling occupational groups with promising projected job growth over the coming years.1-6 To learn more about the various types of counseling licensure and projected counseling job opportunities in this midwestern state, read our guide below.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Counselor in Michigan
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensing Process
- Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Michigan
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
- School Counselor
- Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC)
- Other Professional Counseling Careers
- Michigan Counseling Career and Salary Information
- Counseling Associations in Michigan
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Become a Counselor in Michigan
Licensure and a master’s degree in a related area are required for most types of counseling in Michigan. Many schools in Michigan offer degrees that will meet state licensing requirements. You may also find that programs from schools in other states meet Michigan’s education guidelines. Each type of licensure may also have other requirements, such as exams or work experience. If you already hold a license in another state and are looking to practice in Michigan, visit our Counseling License Reciprocity Guide.
1. Decide which area of counseling to pursue.
The first step when starting your journey to a counseling career is deciding which area of counseling interests you the most. Each type of Michigan counseling licensure has strict, and often very different, requirements. Starting out with a plan will help you focus on the specific requirements for the type of license you seek.
2. Earn the degree(s) required for your counseling practice area.
You will need at least a master’s degree for most types of counseling licensure in Michigan. The only exception is for Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors (CADCs) who can earn certification with a high school diploma and work experience. A master’s degree with coursework in 10 counseling-specific areas is required to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs) must have a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or a closely related field. A master’s degree in school counseling is required for school counselors and Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselors (CAADCs) must have a master’s degree with coursework in substance abuse.
3. Get licensed to practice counseling in Michigan.
Once you have completed your degree, the next step is to apply for licensure from the correct board or department. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) is responsible for licensing professional counselors and marriage and family therapists through its Board of Counseling and Board of Marriage and Family Therapy. School counselors are licensed by the Michigan Department of Education (DOE) and substance abuse counselors are certified by the Michigan Certification Board for Addiction Professionals (MCBAP). More information about these types of Michigan counseling licensure can be found in the guide below.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensing Process
Michigan professional counselors help people with personal, emotional, and social problems by conducting assessments and incorporating appropriate counseling, behavioral and psychotherapy techniques into individual and group work. If you would like to know more about what professional counselors do, see our mental health counselor career guide. In Michigan, the Michigan Board of Counseling (the Board) of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) issues these licenses. You must have a master’s degree from a regionally-accredited institution that is either accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or that is at least 48 semester hours and includes comparable coursework as well as a practicum and an internship. Beginning in June 2023, a master’s degree consisting of 60 semester hours with specific coursework will be required. In addition to the educational requirements, prospective LPCs must also follow these steps:
1. Complete human trafficking training and demonstrate a working knowledge of the English language.
All applicants for licensure are required to complete approved training in human trafficking, which must cover content in the following areas: understanding the types and venues of human trafficking in the United States, identifying victims of human trafficking in health care settings, identifying the warning signs of human trafficking in health care settings for adults and minors, and resources for reporting the suspected victims of human trafficking. Applicants must also demonstrate a working knowledge of the English language by completing a required health professional educational program taught in English, submitting a transcript showing at least 60 college-level credits from an English-speaking graduate or undergraduate school, or obtaining a passing score on an approved English proficiency exam.
2. Register as a Limited Licensed Professional Counselor (Limited LPC).
Prospective counselors who have completed their education in Michigan must register as Limited Licensed Professional Counselors (Limited LPCs) in order to accrue supervised experience. The Limited LPC application is available online and as of November 2022, the fee is $86.45. The Board will send further instructions on how to complete a fingerprint and background check as part of the application process. A Limited LPC license must be renewed every year, up to a maximum of 10 years. Limited LPCs must always identify themselves as trainees to clients and work under the supervision of an LPC in Michigan.
3. Accrue supervised experience.
Once the Limited LPC license has been issued, you can begin to accumulate the required work experience for full licensure. If you have a master’s degree, you must accrue 3,000 hours of counseling experience over at least a two-year period with your supervisor present for at least 100 hours. If you have completed a doctoral degree in counseling, 1,500 hours of counseling experience in at least a one-year period including a minimum of 50 supervised hours are required. Supervisors must be LPCs with at least three years of experience and training in counseling supervision. More information can be found in the Department’s Administrative Rules.
4. Pass one of the required exams.
You must pass one of the following: the National Counselor Examination (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) from the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) or the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) Examination from the CRCC. The NBCC provides links to study material online and the CRCC offers a practice test.
5. Apply for your LPC license.
6. Complete a Criminal Background Check.
Once your online application has been submitted, you will be emailed an Application Confirmation letter containing instructions to complete the Criminal Background Check.
7. Receive your LPC license.
Once approved, your license will be mailed to you. You can also view or request duplicate copies through the eLicense portal.
LPC Licensure by Endorsement in Michigan
Michigan does not offer licensure through reciprocity but you may be eligible for licensure by endorsement if you are licensed in another state and have at least five years of experience. You can apply by sending the application form, a professional disclosure statement, and verification of any other counseling licenses held. If you do not have five years of experience, you will have to apply for licensure by following the steps above. As of November 2022, the application fee for licensure by endorsement is $254. A fingerprint and background check is also required and the Department will send you instructions once your application is received.
Counselor License Renewal and Continuing Education Information
The Board mails renewal notices to LPC licensees approximately 90 days before the expiration date listed on the license. Licenses must be renewed every three years and can be renewed as early as 90 days before expiration. Renewal is done online using the eLicense LARA portal. As of November 2022, there are no continuing education requirements for professional counseling licensure in Michigan, but human trafficking training is required for renewal if not already completed. The renewal application fee is $194.55.
Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Michigan
In addition to the LPC license, there are a number of other counseling career pathways that also involve licensure. Continue reading to learn more about some other common counseling career options, including licensed marriage and family therapists, school counselors, and substance abuse counselors.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) must be licensed by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), through the Michigan Board of Marriage and Family Therapy (the Board). A graduate degree accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Education (COAMFTE) is required or else the degree must meet specific coursework requirements and must include an eight-month supervised practicum with at least 300 direct client contact hours. The application must be completed online. As of November 2022, the fee is $151.30. LMFTs provide counseling and psychotherapy services to individuals, couples, groups, and families to help develop healthy relationships, improve communication, and resolve interpersonal conflicts. The steps to LMFT licensure are:
- Complete approved training in identifying victims of human trafficking and demonstrate a working knowledge of the English language.
- Register as a Limited Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (Limited LMFT) if you have not completed a doctoral degree from a COAMFTE-accredited program.
- Complete at least 1,000 postgraduate direct client contact hours that are supervised by an LMFT.
- Pass the Marital and Family Therapy (MFT) National Examination from the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB).
- Apply online for LMFT licensure.
- Complete a fingerprint and background check.
- Receive your LMFT license.
- Complete at least two hours of implicit bias training within five years after receiving your license.
To learn more about marriage and family therapists and what they do, visit our LMFT career guide.
In Michigan, school counselors develop and deliver programs to help students of all ages achieve academic success. The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) offers several types of school counseling credentials. The Out-of-State Temporary License is a one-year certificate for applicants who have already completed all the requirements of an approved, out-of-state school counselor program and are seeking an initial Michigan School Counselor License (SCL). The School Counselor License (SCL) is the full school counseling credential, although those with a school counselor endorsement on a Michigan Teaching Certificate can also work as school counselors. Prospective school counselors must complete an approved school counseling graduate program with a 600-hour internship that includes 300 hours of school counseling services. The school counseling licensure process in Michigan requires candidates to:
- Complete at least 30 semester hours of an approved graduate program and apply for a Preliminary School Counselor Credential while completing the educational and internship requirements, if desired.
- Submit an online application to the MDE.
- Pass the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC) School Counselor examination.
- Receive your license online.
Learn more about school counseling opportunities in our school counseling career guide.
Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC)
Substance abuse counselors are certified through the Michigan Certification Board for Addiction Professionals (MCBAP) using International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) standards. The two main types of certification are Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) and Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC). The minimum educational requirement for CADCs is a high school diploma plus 300 education hours, 180 of which must be substance abuse disorder-specific, CAADCs must have a master’s degree in counseling, social work, or a related field. The certifications are not progressive, so you can work as a CADC for as long as you like and you do not have to earn CADC certification before becoming a CAADC. You must have one of these certifications to provide substance abuse counseling, assessment, and prevention services to publicly-funded clients. Substance abuse counseling services are also within the scope of LPC practice. After finishing the necessary education, follow these steps to become a CADC or CAADC:
- Complete the required work experience (up to 6,000 hours depending on education level for CADC and 2,000 hours for CAADC) and supervision hours (300 for CADC and 100 for CAADC).
- Pass the required IC&RC exam (the Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) exam for CADC certification or the Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC) exam for CAADC certification).
- Mail your application to the MCBAP.
- Receive your Certified (Advanced) Alcohol and Drug Counselor license.
Optional Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Michigan
The Michigan Certification Board for Addiction Professionals (MCBAP) offers several other optional credentials for substance abuse professionals in Michigan. These are not required to practice, but may expand your knowledge and improve the services you give to your clients. Included in their offerings are:
- Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS)
- MCBAP Certified Peer Recovery Mentor (CPRM)
- MCBAP Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS)
More information about substance abuse counseling careers can be found in our substance abuse counseling career guide.
Other Professional Counseling Careers
In addition to the popular counseling careers mentioned above, there are many other ways to use a counseling degree to work in the profession. You may be interested in some of the following opportunities:
- Rehabilitation Counselor
- Gambling Counselor
- Genetic Counselor
- Youth Counselor
- Guidance Counselor
- Pastoral Counselor
- Recreational Therapist
Michigan Counseling Career and Salary Information
In Michigan, over 18,350 individuals work as counseling professionals across the main counseling categories according to the data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).1-5 The largest number work as substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (8,560); followed by educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors (6,950); and rehabilitation counselors (2,680).1,3,4 Marriage and family therapists have the highest average annual salaries in Michigan ($56,300), followed closely by educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors ($55,370).2,3 Rehabilitation is the only category of counseling that reports an average salary above the national average, of $45,380 (vs. $44,740 nationally).4
According to Projections Central, the job market for aspiring counselors in Michigan is promising. The fastest growth is projected for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (21.3%); marriage and family therapists (14.3%); and counselors, all other (13.6%).6 Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselor positions are projected to increase by 1,780 total jobs, including replacements, which is significantly more than the other categories.6 These projections suggest plenty of opportunities for those seeking Michigan counseling licensure in the near future.
|Occupation||Number Employed1-5||Average Annual Salary1-5|
|Counselors, All Other||160||$43,260|
|Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors||6,950||$55,370|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||N.Av.||$56,300|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||8,560||$52,670|
Counseling Associations in Michigan
- Michigan Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (MAADAC): MAADAC is the Michigan chapter of the National Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) which helps addiction professionals create healthier families and communities through prevention, intervention, and quality treatment.
- Michigan Counseling Association (MCA): An umbrella organization that supports numerous regional MCA associations and organizes statewide professional development opportunities.
- Michigan Mental Health Counselors Association (MMHCA): An organization for mental health counselors that develops policy initiatives and organizes networking opportunities and workshops.
- Michigan School Counselor Association (MSCA): A professional organization that seeks to increase awareness of the school counseling profession and provide learning opportunities for school counselors at all stages of their career.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the Board provide a list of approved programs?
The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) does not provide a list of approved programs, but it does specify the degree must include 10 counseling coursework areas and a 600-hour internship. If your chosen degree program is not accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP) or the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE), you will need to include additional information about your coursework on the Certification of Counseling Education form with your application.
How can I provide clinical counseling services in Michigan?
Michigan only has one type of professional counseling license, which is the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). LPCs are allowed to provide clinical counseling services in a variety of settings and with a diverse range of populations.
How do I keep my license up-to-date with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA)?
LARA requires licensed counselors and marriage and family therapists, including those with limited licenses, to renew online using the eLicense portal. Notices are sent by mail 90 days before expiry for LPCs and 45-60 days before expiry for LMFTs but, according to LARA, ensuring a timely renewal is ultimately the responsibility of the licensee. Limited licenses must be renewed annually, up to a maximum of 10 years. LPC licenses are renewable every three years, while LMFT licenses are renewable every two years as per the date on the license. There are no continuing education requirements for LPCs or LMFTs, therefore, all that is necessary to renew is to pay the renewal fee online using a credit card.
Does Michigan offer LPC licensure by reciprocity?
Michigan does not have reciprocity agreements with any state for the LPC designation. If you have five years of licensed work experience in another state, you may be eligible for licensure by endorsement. If you do not have five years of experience, you will have to meet the requirements for new applicants, including coursework requirements and exam scores. All applicants must complete a fingerprint and background check through the Department after submitting an application.
What are the most common counseling jobs in Michigan?
Most counselors in Michigan are employed as substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (8,560) followed by educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors (6,950). 1,3 Another significant group of counseling professionals is rehabilitation counselors (2,680).4
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