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Mississippi Counseling License Requirements

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 Counselors (LPCs).

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.

1. Pick which area of counseling to pursue.

To become a professional counselor, you will need to choose an area of specialization first 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 you take to meet licensure requirements.

2. Meet the educational requirements for your desired counseling practice area.

Most Mississippi counseling licenses require a master’s degree to become licensed. Those interested in providing mental health counseling services need a master’s degree in counseling approved by CACREP 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 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. Professional counselors are licensed by the Mississippi State Board of Examiners for Licensed Professional Counselors; marriage and family therapists are licensed by the Mississippi State Board of Examiners for Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists; and school counselors are licensed by the Mississippi Department of Education. Substance abuse counselors that work in government-funded or -certified settings are licensed by the Mississippi Department of Mental Health and all others can earn credentials through the Mississippi Association for Addiction Professionals. Continue reading to learn more.

Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensing Process

The Mississippi State Board of Examiners for Licensed Professional Counselors 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 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. Register as 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 annual licensing fee is $50 (as of September 2019) and the license must be renewed annually by September 30 by paying the fee. 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 an LPC-S and the experience must take place on a federal, state, county, or municipal site. Otherwise, the supervised 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 September 2019.

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 NCMHCE is comprised of 10 simulations 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.

Professional Counselor 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 experience and a license in good standing. These applicants also use the online portal to apply.

Counselor Licensing 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 hours of continuing education with at least six hours of training 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 September 2019).

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. Prospective LMFTs must complete a master’s degree that is accredited by COAMFTE or has candidacy for COAMFTE accreditation. The program must include a 12-month clinical practicum in marriage and family therapy that provides 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 AMFTRB marriage and family therapy exam.
  • Register as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate (LMFTA) and complete fingerprint and background checks.
  • Earn supervised experience.
  • Request and receive your LMFT license.

To discover more about licensed marriage and family therapist careers, visit our LMFT career guide.

School Counselor

In Mississippi, school counselors hold a special subject license from the Department of Education. 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 Department 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 counseling. The application process then varies depending on whether the applicant has an educator license in Mississippi. The school counselor licensure process requires candidates to:

  • Complete a one-year internship, if not already licensed as an educator.
  • Pass the Praxis Guidance Counselor exam.
  • Request and receive your school counselor license.

To read more about school counselors and what they do, check out our school counseling career guide.

Certified Addiction Therapist (CAT)

The licensure requirements for substance abuse counselors vary in Mississippi depending on the place of employment. Individuals that 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 addictions or a related field. If you have a job offer in a Department-funded or -certified program, you can earn the CAT license by following these steps:

  • Complete a background check.
  • Apply for a Provisionally Certified Addictions Therapist (PCAT).
  • Earn supervised experience.
  • Pass the DMH Addictions Therapist Examination.
  • Request to upgrade to a CAT license.

Other Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Mississippi

  • Associate Prevention Specialist (APS)
  • Certified Advanced Alcohol & Drug Counselor (CAADC)
  • Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor (CADC)
  • Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor I (CADC I)
  • Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor II (CADC II)
  • Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS)
  • Certified Criminal Justice Addictions Professional (CCJP)
  • Certified Intern Counselor (CIC)
  • Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS)
  • Certified Prevention Specialist Manager (CPM)

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 4,530 counselors working in various reported counseling fields.1-5 Most are employed as educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (2,080) and substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (1,780).3,1 Average salaries for Mississippi counselors are $37,910 for rehabilitation counselors, $38,910 for marriage and family therapists, $39,710 for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors, and $50,940 for educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors.4,2,1,3

Not all projections for Mississippi’s counseling subspecialities are available, but among reported categories growth will range from 5.2% for rehabilitation counselors to 12.6% for educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors through 2026.6 The largest number of new positions will be for educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (270), followed by mental health counselors (100).6 Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors and rehabilitation counselors are projected to grow by 80 and 30 positions respectively.6

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Counselors, All Other
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors2,080$50,940
Marriage and Family Therapists170$38,910
Rehabilitation Counselors500$37,910
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors1,780$39,710

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1-5

Counseling Associations in Mississippi

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 September 2019). 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 (CE) hours during each renewal period. P-LPCs must complete six hours each year including two hours of ethics training and LPCs must complete 24 hours of CE in each two-year period with at least six hours of ethics training. The Board provides a list of pre approved CE providers in the state rules and regulations; CE 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. Students must receive one hour of supervision per six hours of client contact and supervision 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 LPC 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?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that average annual openings for counseling jobs will range from 70 for rehabilitation counselors to 260 for educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors through 2026.6 Additionally, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors are projected to see 80 new annual openings and mental health counselors are projected to have 110 annual openings during this period.6 Data is not available for counselors, all other and marriage and family therapists.

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