Mississippi Counseling License Requirements
As of May 2021, there are over 4,500 reported counselors in Mississippi working in different counseling subfields.1-5 A career in counseling will be a challenging and rewarding path and the profession offers dedicated individuals many opportunities to use clinical skills and knowledge. However, earning a Mississippi counseling license is a long process with many steps. This guide can help you understand the educational and work experience requirements for different types of counseling licensure in Mississippi, such as Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Counselor in Mississippi
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensing Process
- Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Mississippi
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
- School Counselor
- Certified Addiction Therapist (CAT)
- Other Professional Counseling Careers
- Mississippi Counseling Career and Salary Information
- Counseling Associations in Mississippi
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Become a Counselor in Mississippi
Most types of professional counselors in Mississippi are required to earn a master’s degree that meets the degree and coursework requirements for the specific practice area pursued. Various schools in Mississippi offer counseling programs that meet the state’s requirements; out-of-state programs may meet state requirements as well. Prospective counselors may also be required to meet work experience and testing requirements. If you already hold a license in another state and are looking to practice in Mississippi, visit our Counseling License Reciprocity Guide.
1. Pick which area of counseling to pursue.
To become a professional counselor, you will need to first choose an area of specialization because the pathway to counseling licensure will vary depending on the type of counseling services you’d like to provide. Researching your options and making this decision beforehand will determine the type of degree and the coursework required to earn licensure.
2. Meet the educational requirements for your desired counseling practice area.
Most Mississippi counseling licenses require a master’s degree. Those interested in providing mental health counseling services need a Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) approved master’s degree in counseling and aspiring marriage and family therapists must have a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. School counselors must have a master’s degree; if the degree is not in guidance and counseling, teaching experience may be required. Substance abuse counselors working in any program funded or certified by the Mississippi government must have a master’s degree; others can earn credentials with a minimum of a high school diploma.
3. Get licensed to practice counseling in Mississippi.
After earning your degree, the final step is becoming licensed by the correct Mississippi licensing board. Licensed professional counselors (LPCs) are licensed by the Mississippi State Board of Examiners for Licensed Professional Counselors (the Board); marriage and family therapists (LMFTs) are licensed by the Mississippi State Board of Examiners for Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists (the Board); and school counselors are licensed by the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE). Certified addiction therapists (CATs) that work in government-funded or -certified settings are credentialed by the Mississippi Department of Mental Health (DMH) and other voluntary credentials are offered through the Mississippi Association for Addiction Professionals (MAAP). Continue reading to learn more.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensing Process
The Mississippi State Board of Examiners for Licensed Professional Counselors (the Board) is responsible for issuing licenses for Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs). LPCs use counseling techniques and behavioral science theories to help individuals, couples, and groups address dysfunctional behaviors, solve problems, make decisions, and address interpersonal or intrapersonal issues. If you would like to learn more about a career as a professional counselor, read our mental health counselor career guide. Prospective LPCs must complete a 60-credit master’s degree in counseling; degree programs accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) are preapproved.
1. Pass the National Counselor Exam (NCE).
The first step towards LPC licensure is to take the National Counselor Exam (NCE) at one of the many Pearson VUE testing centers across the state or country. The NCE is a multiple-choice exam that tests general counseling knowledge and is administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). Board approval is not required to take this exam. To prepare, read the NBCC’s online handbook.
2. Apply to be a Provisional Licensed Professional Counselor (P-LPC).
After passing the NCE, you can submit an online application for a provisional license and complete state and federal fingerprint and background checks. The background check processing fee and the annual licensing fee are both $50 respectively (as of November 2022) and are due by September 30. At this stage, P-LPCs must complete a supervision agreement detailing how they will complete the required work experience and receive Board approval before beginning to accrue hours.
3. Accrue supervised experience.
P-LPCs must complete 3,000 hours of supervised work experience in not less than 18 months. Of these hours, a maximum of 40 work hours, including 25 direct practice hours, may be accrued each week. A minimum of 1,200 hours must be direct client contact hours. The supervisor must be a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and the experience must take place on a federal, state, county, or municipal site. Otherwise, the supervision must take place on a site where an LPC is available on the premises at all times. LPC-Ss must have at least five years of experience, documented supervision training, and submit an application to the Board before providing supervision. More information about supervision requirements can be found in the Mississippi rules and regulations.
4. Apply for LPC licensure and permission to test.
The next step is to apply for LPC licensure and permission to take the required exam. You must apply online and submit proof of supervised work experience. The Board provides a sample supervision log, but this information must be submitted through the online portal. The licensing fee is $100 as of November 2022.
5. Pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE).
The Board will then provide approval to test once the supervised work hours are verified as complete. The National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE) is comprised of 11 case studies designed to test clinical counseling and mental health knowledge. The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) administers the exam and offers an online handbook detailing what to expect and how to prepare. You must take the exam within 12 months; if you are not successful, you can take the exam again one more time within the 12-month period. Subsequent attempts must be approved by the Board.
6. Receive your LPC license.
Finally, the Board will review your entire application and grant your license. You must continue to receive supervision as a provisional counselor until you receive your certificate and wallet card.
LPC Licensure by Comity in Mississippi
Mississippi does not currently have any formal licensure by reciprocity agreements with other states and individuals licensed in other states must meet substantially similar requirements as all other Mississippi applicants. The Board considers these applications, referred to as licensure by comity, on a case-by-case basis. Licensure by comity applicants must have at least five years of continuous experience and a license in good standing. These applicants also use the online portal to apply.
Counselor License Renewal and Continuing Education Information
Renewal notices are emailed to licensees before the biennial June 30 deadline. In order to renew, each licensee must complete 24 continuing education hours (CEH) with at least six CEH in professional ethics or legal issues and submit fingerprint and background checks every six years. Licenses must be renewed online and the renewal fee is $220 (as of November 2022).
Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Mississippi
Depending on the area of specialization, the pathway to counseling licensure in Mississippi will vary. In addition to mental health counseling, the requirements for these major types of counseling licensure are listed below: licensed marriage and family therapists, school counselors, and substance abuse counselors.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
To become a marriage and family therapist in Mississippi, you must obtain a license from the State Board of Examiners for Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists (the Board). Prospective LMFTs must complete a master’s degree that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) or has candidacy for COAMFTE accreditation. The program must include a 12-month clinical practicum in marriage and family therapy that provides at least 500 hours of direct experience with clinical counseling. In Mississippi, LMFTs use advanced clinical skills and knowledge to assess, diagnose, and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders and issues within marriage and family systems contexts. To earn an LMFT license, follow these steps:
- Pass the Marital and Family Therapy National Examination from the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB).
- Submit the application for licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapy Associate (LMFTA) and complete fingerprint and background checks.
- Sumit the contract for LMFT supervision application along with a detailed Plan of Supervision.
- Complete two years of documented clinical experience in marriage and family therapy, which must include 1,000 hours of direct client contact and 200 hours of supervision.
- Submit the application for LMFT licensure and receive your license.
To discover more about licensed marriage and family therapist careers, visit our LMFT career guide.
In Mississippi, school counselors hold a special subject license from the Department of Education (MDE). Mississippi school counselors develop and deliver programs and counseling services related to academic, mental, and social development for students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The MDE offers three paths to licensure depending on the applicant’s background. Individuals who already hold the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) National Certified School Counselor (NCSC) credential are automatically eligible; all other applicants must have a master’s degree in guidance and counseling. The application process then varies depending on whether the applicant holds a five-year educator license in Mississippi. The school counselor licensure process requires candidates to:
- Complete a one-year internship, if not already licensed as an educator, and achieve at least a 21 ACT equivalent or a passing score on the Praxis CORE (Core Academic Skills for Educators) examination.
- Pass the Praxis school counselor exam.
- Apply online and receive your school counselor license.
To read more about school counselors and what they do, check out our school counseling career guide.
Certified Addictions Therapist (CAT)
The licensure requirements for substance abuse counselors vary in Mississippi depending on the place of employment. Individuals who provide clinical counseling services to those with addictions challenges and are employed at programs funded or certified by the Mississippi Department of Mental Health (DMH) must be licensed as Certified Addiction Therapists (CATs). CATs provide alcohol and drug treatment services and community support services within the state mental health system. The minimum educational requirement is a 30-credit master’s degree in addiction or a related field. If you have a job offer in a Department-funded or -certified program, you can earn the CAT credential by following these steps:
- Complete a background check.
- Submit the application to become a Provisionally Certified Addictions Therapist (PCAT), if you have not already accrued the required supervised experience.
- Complete a minimum of two years of full-time supervised experience in the field of alcohol and drug use prevention/treatment.
- Pass the DMH Addictions Therapist Examination.
- Read and agree to abide by the DMH principles of ethical and professional conduct.
- Submit the application to upgrade to a CAT license.
Optional Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Mississippi
If you are not working as a CAT for a DMH-funded program, the Mississippi Association of Addiction Professionals (MAAP), offers several voluntary credentials to substance abuse professionals who wish to increase their knowledge and improve their work prospects. Credentials available through MAAP include:
- MAAP Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor
- MAAP Certified Criminal Justice Addictions Professional (CCJP)
- MAAP Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS)
Learn more about what substance abuse counselors do on our substance abuse counseling career guide.
Other Professional Counseling Careers
Completing a counseling degree can lead to a career in many subdisciplines. In addition to the major types of counseling listed above, you can also pursue a career in one of the following areas:
- Rehabilitation Counselor
- Gambling Counselor
- Genetic Counselor
- Youth Counselor
- Guidance Counselor
- Pastoral Counselor
- Recreational Therapist
Mississippi Counseling Career and Salary Information
In Mississippi, there are at least 4,580 counselors working in various reported counseling fields according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).1-5 Most are employed as educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (2,110) and substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (1,640).1,3 Average salaries for Mississippi counselors range from $36,380 for rehabilitation counselors to $51,990 for educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors.3,4
According to Projections Central, growth among the five categories of Mississippi’s counseling subspecialties will range from 8.8% for rehabilitation counselors to 50% for “all other” counselors through 2030.6 The largest number of new positions will be for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (340), followed by educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (320).6 Rehabilitation counselors and marriage and family therapists are projected to grow by 50 and 20 positions respectively.6
|Occupation||Number Employed1-5||Average Annual Salary1-5|
|Counselors, All Other||40||$30,850|
|Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors||2,110||$51,990|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||70||$45,880|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||1,640||$42,830|
Counseling Associations in Mississippi
- Magnolia State School Counselor Association (MSSCA): The Mississippi affiliate of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) which seeks to advance the objectives of school counseling programs through fostering closer professional and personal relationships among school counselors.
- Mississippi Association of Addiction Professionals (MAAP): Provides education, training, and certification to alcohol and drug abuse counselors.
- Mississippi Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (MAMFT): An independent organization that advocates for the profession at the state level and conducts public education campaigns to promote the benefits of marital and family therapy.
- Mississippi Counseling Association (MiCA): An association with numerous regional committees and divisions to support all types of counseling professionals in the state.
- Mississippi Licensed Professional Counselors Association (MLPCA): A professional organization that advocates for mental health counseling, provides continuing education courses, and holds an annual summer conference.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I renew the P-LPC license if I have not completed my supervised hours?
The P-LPC license must be renewed each year by September 30 and can be renewed up to four times. The renewal fee is $50 (as of November 2022). With each renewal, the applicant must submit a status update and an updated Declaration of Practice statement verified by their supervisor. After four years, the applicant will be required to appeal to the Board to gain extra time to complete the required work hours.
What are the continuing education (CE) requirements for Mississippi LPCs?
Mississippi requires both P-LPCs and LPCs to complete continuing education hours (CEH) during each renewal period. P-LPCs must complete six hours each year including two hours of ethics training and LPCs must complete 24 CEH in each two-year period with at least six hours of ethics training. The Board provides a list of pre approved CEH providers in the state rules and regulations; CEH completed through a provider that is not pre-approved will be considered at the discretion of the Board at the time of renewal. Extra hours cannot be counted towards the next renewal period.
What are the supervised work experience requirements for LMFTs?
Prospective LMFTs must ensure their program of study includes a clinical practicum of no less than 500 hours over a period of 12 months. The practicum must provide the student with the opportunity to provide direct counseling services in a marriage and family therapy setting. One hour of supervision is required per six hours of client contact and must be provided by an approved supervisor.
What coursework should I take to become an LPC in Mississippi?
The licensure process for LPCs has both degree and coursework requirements. Applicants must have a 60-credit master’s degree in counseling with coursework in 12 core areas, including human growth and development, testing and appraisal, and theories of counseling psychotherapy and personality. As LPCs also often work with clients with mental health disorders, the degree program must also include at least three credits of abnormal psychology and psychopathology to ensure graduates have a thorough understanding of the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
How many annual openings can be expected for counselors in Mississippi?
Projections Central predicts that average annual openings for counseling jobs through 2030 will range from 10 for marriage and family therapists to 260 for educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors.6 Additionally, substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors are projected to see 230 average annual openings, and rehabilitation counselors are projected to have 60 average annual openings during this period.6 The category of “all other” counselors is not projected to have any average annual openings through 2030.6
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, 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