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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. There are currently 16,930 counselors working in Michigan in the main counseling occupational groups with promising projected job growth over the coming years.1-5 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.

1. Decide which area of counseling to pursue.

The first step when starting your journey to a counseling career is to decide 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 (LMFT) 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 by 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. 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 Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) issues these licenses. The application is available to download online. You must have a master’s degree from a regionally-accredited institution with at least 48 semester hours of counseling coursework in 10 specified areas, including counseling theories, group techniques, and professional ethics. The degree program must also include an internship of 600 supervised counseling hours.

1. Register as a Limited Licensed Professional Counselor (Limited LPC).

Prospective counselors who have completed their education in Michigan must register as a Limited Licensed Professional Counselor (Limited LPC) in order to accrue supervised experience. The Limited LPC application is available online and as of August 2019, the fee is $84.80. The Department 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 a licensed professional counselor in Michigan.

2. 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 30 semester hours of graduate study in counseling beyond your master’s degree, you must accrue 1,500 hours of counseling experience in at least a one-year period with your supervisor present for at least 50 hours. Supervisors must be Licensed Professional Counselors with at least three years of experience and training in counseling supervision. More information can be found in the Department’s Administrative Rules.

3. Pass either of the required exams.

You must pass either the National Counselor Examination (NCE) 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.

4. Apply for and receive your LPC licensure.

As of August 2019, the LPC application fee is $121.90. Once approved, your license will be mailed to you. You can also view or request duplicate copies through the eLicense portal.

Professional Counselor 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 August 2019, the application fee for licensure by endorsement is $121.90. A fingerprint and background check is also required and the Department will send you instructions once your application is received.

Counselor Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

The Department mails renewal notices to licensees approximately 90 days before the expiry date listed on the license. Licenses must be renewed every three years and can be renewed as early as 90 days before expiry. Renewal is done online using the LARA eLicense portal. As of August 2019, there are no continuing education requirements for professional counseling licensure in Michigan.

Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Michigan

In addition to the LPCC 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 must be licensed by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). 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. The application can be downloaded online and mailed to LARA. As of August 2019, the fee is $90.10. 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:

  • Register as a Limited Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (Limited LMFT).
  • Complete the required supervised experience.
  • Pass the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) National Marital and Family Therapy Exam.
  • Apply for LMFT licensure.
  • Complete a fingerprint and background check.
  • Receive your LMFT license.

To learn more about marriage and family therapists and what they do, visit our LMFT career guide.

School Counselor

In Michigan, school counselors develop and deliver programs to help students of all ages achieve academic success. School counseling licenses (SCLs) are issued by the Michigan Department of Education. Prospective school counselors must complete an approved school counseling graduate program with a 600-hour internship that includes 300 hours of school counseling services and pass the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC) School Counselor examination. Certified teachers in Michigan can also follow these steps to earn an endorsement for school counseling that will be added to their existing teacher certificate. The school counseling licensure process in Michigan requires candidates to:

  • Complete an approved graduate program, including an internship.
  • Submit an online application to the Department.
  • Pass the required exam.
  • 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 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, while CAADCs must have a master’s degree in counseling, social work, or a related field. The certifications are not progressive, therefore, you can work as a CADC for as long as you like and you do not have to earn CADC certification first if you meet CAADC requirements. 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 and supervision hours.
  • Pass the required IC&RC exam (the Alcohol and Drug Counselor exam for CADC certification or the Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor exam for CAADC certification).
  • Mail your application to the MCBAP.
  • Receive your Certified (Advanced) Alcohol and Drug Counselor license.

Other Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Michigan

  • Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC)
  • Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC)
  • Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS)
  • Certified Peer Recovery Mentor (CPRM)
  • Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS)
  • Certified Prevention Consultant – Reciprocal (CPC-R)

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, 16,930 individuals work as counseling professionals across the main counseling categories.1-5 The largest number work as educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (6,910), followed by substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (6,350) and rehabilitation counselors (3,180).3,1,4 Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors are the highest paid ($55,890), followed closely by marriage and family therapists ($53,680).3,2 Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and rehabilitation counselors all report average salaries slightly above national averages.1,2,4

The job market for aspiring counselors in Michigan is promising. Projections through 2026 suggest that all of the main types of counseling will grow close to or above national projections.6 The fastest growth is projected for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors (22.9%), mental health counselors (22.2%), and marriage and family therapists (20.4%).6 Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselor positions are projected to increase by 8,100, which is more than all other categories combined.6 These projections suggest plenty of opportunities for those seeking Michigan counseling licensure in the near future.

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Counselors, All Other110$40,140
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors6,910$55,890
Marriage and Family Therapists380$53,680
Rehabilitation Counselors3,180$40,810
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors6,350$48,440

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1-5

Counseling Associations in Michigan

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Department 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 licensure, 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. While there are no formal requirements necessary for counselings interested in clinical mental health, the Department expects LPCs to maintain professional competency in whichever area of practice they choose.

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?

Of the 16,930 counselors working in Michigan, over three-quarters work are employed as educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (6,910) and substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (6,350).3,1 Another significant group of counseling professionals is rehabilitation counselors (3,180).4 Marriage and family therapists (380) and counselors, all other (110) represent the smallest categories of counselors in Michigan.2,5

References:
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