Nebraska Counseling License Requirements
With almost 4,000 counselors working in the major counseling specialties, the state of Nebraska is home to many professional counselors.1-5 Counseling licensure in Nebraska can be a demanding process with many steps to complete, but earning a counseling credential can be a professional milestone leading to a fulfilling career helping others. If you would like to earn a Nebraska counseling license, such as the Certified Professional Counselor (CPC) credential, this guide will provide you with important information about the licensure process and the outlook for counselors in this Midwestern state.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Counselor in Nebraska
- Certified Professional Counselor (CPC) Licensing Process
- Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Nebraska
- Certified Marriage and Family Therapist (CMFT)
- School Counselor
- Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC)
- Other Professional Counseling Careers
- Nebraska Counseling Career and Salary Information
- Counseling Associations in Nebraska
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Become a Counselor in Nebraska
To become a professional counselor in Nebraska, you will need to meet the educational standards set by the state and become licensed. Many types of counseling licenses require a master’s degree, exam, and other work experience requirements. Many schools in Nebraska offer counseling programs designed for the state’s licensure process, though degrees completed out-of-state may also qualify you for licensure.
1. Choose which area of counseling you’d like to pursue.
Counseling is a broad field and you can choose to pursue a license in many different subfields, such as mental health counseling or marriage and family therapy. Before beginning the licensure process, you will need to pick an area of specialization to ensure your degree, coursework, and experience meet the licensure requirements.
2. Complete the degree required for your counseling practice area.
Most types of counseling licensure in Nebraska require a master’s degree in the area of counseling you’d like to practice. Mental health counselors must have a master’s degree in therapeutic mental health or a related area; marriage and family therapists must have a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or a related area; and school counselors must have a master’s degree in school counseling. Alcohol and drug counselors can earn a credential with a high school diploma or GED, although a degree can be advantageous for career advancement.
3. Get your license to practice counseling in Nebraska.
To obtain a counseling license in Nebraska, you must apply to the correct organization that oversees your practice area. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has licensing units for mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and alcohol and drug counselors, while the Nebraska Department of Education licenses school counselors. Continue reading to learn more about the various counseling licensure options in Nebraska.
Certified Professional Counselor (CPC) Licensing Process
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services offers both licensure for mental health professionals and certification for professional counselors. To become a Certified Professional Counselor (CPC), you must have or be eligible for licensure as a Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (LMHP) or a Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner (LIMHP) and also apply for certification. CPC certification does not expand the scope of practice but allows you to use the protected professional title of “Certified Professional Counselor.” Those licensed as LMHPs and LIMHPs provide mental health counseling services to individuals, couples, families, or groups to address behavioral, cognitive, mental, or emotional disorders; additionally, LIMHPs are able to diagnose mental illnesses and disorders. If you would like to know more about what professional counselors do, see our mental health counselor career guide. Aspiring Nebraska counselors must have a graduate degree in a therapeutic mental health field with a practicum component. Prospective LIMHPs can earn this credential either by completing the requirements as a PLMHP and applying for an LIMHP license directly or by completing the exam and experience requirements later in their careers while licensed as LMHPs.
1. Apply for a Provisionally Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (PLMHP) license.
The first step to earning this credential is to accrue supervised experience and a provisional license is required before hours can be accrued. Prospective counselors must submit the application form to the Department for approval. The provisional license is valid for five years and the application fee is $125 as of October 2019.
2. Obtain supervised experience.
Once approved for a provisional license, you must complete 3,000 hours of supervised work experience that includes 1,500 hours of direct client contact and 1,500 hours of indirect counseling services, such as case management, consultation, and observation. Provisional licensees must also receive at least one hour of supervision per week. LMHP work experience must be supervised by an LMHP, LIMHP, psychologist, or physician licensed in Nebraska. LIMHP candidates must be supervised by a physician, psychologist, or LIMHP licensed in Nebraska and the direct work experience must be spent providing services to clients with major mental illnesses or disorders. If the LIMHP candidate does not have a degree that meets educational standards, the Department will consider the application if the candidate has completed 7,000 hours of experience in not less than 10 years supervised by a Nebraska licensed physician, psychologist, or LIMHP provided the work experience is spent providing services to clients with major mental illnesses or disorders. Details about supervision requirements can be found in the Nebraska Mental Health Practice Act.
3. Pass the required exam.
Aspiring counselors must pass one of the required exams while completing supervised experience. The Department accepts a passing score from either the National Counselor Exam (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE). Both exams are multiple-choice, computer-based tests administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). Further details can be found in the NCE and NCMHCE handbooks. To receive approval to take the exam, submit the exam application to the Department.
4. Apply for and receive your licensure and CPC certification.
When you are ready to apply for licensure and certification, use the LMHP or LIMHP application forms and indicate you are applying for both licensure and CPC certification. It can take approximately three weeks for the Department to review your file. You can check the status of your application online using the License Information Search System. Fees for licensure and certification are listed in the application package and vary depending on the type of license sought and whether the applicant is already licensed as an LMHP for LIMHP licensure.
Professional Counselor Licensure by Reciprocity in Nebraska
Nebraska does not have any formal licensure by reciprocity agreements for counselors, but the Department reviews applications from licensed candidates on a case-by-case basis. The state of licensure must have similar or greater requirements for the level of licensure sought and applicants must have either one year of independent practice experience within the previous three years or five years of total independent practice experience in another state. Reciprocity applicants should use the standard LMHP or LIMHP application forms. Exam scores are not required for applicants with five years of licensed experience.
Counselor Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information
LMHP and LIMHP licenses expire on September 1 of even-numbered years and must be renewed on time. The Department sends renewal applications by mail so licensees should ensure the address on file is up-to-date. Licensees can check the status of their license and the address on file using the online portal. To maintain a valid license, licensees complete 32 hours of continuing education (CE) during each renewal period with at least two hours of ethics training. The Department does not pre-approve CE providers or activities but advises that activities must relate to professional practice to be accepted.
Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Nebraska
There are many ways to enter the counseling profession and earn a counseling license. You may also be interested in these other popular counseling professions that require a license in Nebraska: licensed marriage and family therapy, school counseling, and alcohol and drug counseling.
Certified Marriage and Family Therapist (CMFT)
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for marital and family therapy certification. To become a Certified Marriage and Family Therapist (CMFT), applicants must be eligible for or be licensed as either an LMHP or LIMHP. CMFTs must have a graduate degree in marriage and family therapy or a related field; if the degree is not accredited by COAMFTE, the applicant must submit course syllabi and information with the application package. Nebraska CMFTs provide therapeutic assessment and treatment services for mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders related to interpersonal, marital, and family systems. If you do not already have LMFP or LIMHP licensure, the process for CMFT certification is:
- Register as a Provisionally Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (PLMHP).
- Earn supervised experience.
- Take the AMFTRB National Marriage and Family Therapy Exam.
- Request and receive your LMHP or LIMHP license with CMFT certification.
Find out more about licensed marriage and family therapist careers by visiting our LMFT career guide.
School counselors in Nebraska are qualified to work with three age groups: PK-6; grades 7-12; and PK-12. They are licensed educators who act as leaders who collaborate to improve student achievement. Prospective school counselors must seek certification endorsement through the Nebraska Department of Education to be able to work in this role. All applicants need to have a master’s degree in counseling with a specialization in school counseling. In addition to the master’s degree, applicants need to:
- Complete at least 100 clock-hours of field experience.
- Complete a 450-hour internship at the grade levels of the endorsement sought.
- Complete additional coursework required (if not already a teaching certificate holder).
- Pass the Praxis exam for school counselors.
- Complete an online application to request school counseling endorsement.
If you would like to read more about the school counseling profession, see our school counselor career guide.
Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC)
To become a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC), you must have a license issued by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Applicants must have a high school degree or GED, although a degree with related coursework can reduce other licensure requirements. Nebraska LADCs must be competent in the 12 core functions of alcohol and drug counseling set forth by the IC&RC, including screening, orientation, treatment planning, alcohol and drug counseling, and consultation. Follow these steps to become a Nebraska LADC:
- Complete 270 hours of alcohol and drug training, if not completed as part of degree requirements.
- Register as a Provisional Alcohol and Drug Counselor (PADC) and earn supervised experience.
- Pass the IC&RC Alcohol and Drug Counselor Exam.
- Request and receive your LADC credential.
Other Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Nebraska
- Certified Peer Support Specialist
To read more about substance abuse counseling careers, visit our substance abuse counseling career guide.
Other Professional Counseling Careers
A counseling degree can open up many doors to a diverse range of career paths. In addition to the careers mentioned above, you may also use your skills in one of the following areas:
- Rehabilitation Counselor
- Gambling Counselor
- Genetic Counselor
- Youth Counselor
- Guidance Counselor
- Pastoral Counselor
- Recreational Therapist
Nebraska Counseling Career and Salary Information
Counselors in Nebraska earn reported annual salaries for most counseling concentrations close to or above the national averages.1-5 The 560 rehabilitation counselors in the state see an average salary of $38,290, just below the national average.4 The subspecialty of educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors is the second-largest group of counselors employed in the state and those in this group earn nearly the same as the national average at $60,200.3 Those counselors in this group living in the Grand Island metropolitan area earn the fifth-highest average salary of any metro area in the country.3 The largest group of counselors in Nebraska (1,630 employed) is substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors.1 Counselors in the nonmetropolitan area of South Nebraska have the fourth-highest average salary for this practice area.1
Nebraska should see a fair amount of growth in all counseling areas, according to long term estimates from Projections Central.6 By 2026, the state is expected to add close to 650 new counseling positions.6 The fastest growth is expected in the marriage and family therapy category with a 27.3% increase in jobs over a 10-year period (compared to 23.4% projected nationally).6 The field that is expected to add the highest number of new jobs is mental health counseling, projected to add 230 new positions (20.7% growth).6
|Occupation||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Counselors, All Other||—||—|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||1,500||$60,200|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||200||$48,850|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||1,630||$49,850|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1-5
Counseling Associations in Nebraska
- Nebraska Counseling Association (NCA): Organization for all types of counseling professionals in the state that offers member training opportunities and conferences.
- Nebraska School Counselors Association (NSCA): Provides professional development opportunities and resources to Nebraska school counselors to improve and advance the profession.
- Nebraska Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (NAMFT): Comprised of a wide range of mental health clinicians that provide marital and family therapy and who promote the importance of developing and maintaining healthy relationships.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to be both licensed and certified in Nebraska?
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services issues both licenses and certifications for mental health professionals. Licensure is mandatory for individuals providing mental health counseling services, but these individuals may specialize in different areas, such as counseling, marriage and family therapy, or social work. Certification is required if you plan to use one of the protected professional titles, such a Certified Professional Counselor (CPC) or Certified Marriage and Family Therapist (CMFT). These certifications may be required by employers or clients due to health insurance regulations for billing. Applicants should ensure they meet both licensure and certification standards for employment and billing purposes.
What degrees are acceptable for CPC certification?
The Department will consider any graduate degree that meets coursework standards outlined in the application package. While degree programs accredited by COAMFTE, CACREP, or CSWE, and doctoral degree programs accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) for applicants with a master’s degree in psychology are pre-approved by the Department for LMHP or LIMHP licensure, only CACREP-accredited programs are pre-approved for CPC certification. Candidates who complete other degrees will be required to submit course syllabi to demonstrate how the degree meets CPC coursework standards.
What is the difference between LMHP and LIMHP licensure?
The Department offers two licenses for mental health professionals: Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (LMHP) or a Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner (LIMHP). The main difference is the scope of practice. While both professionals provide mental health counseling services, only LIMHPs are able to diagnose mental health disorders independently. LMHPs may only do so with approved clinical supervision. While the education and exam requirements are the same for both licenses, LIMHPs must be supervised by a Nebraska physician, psychologist, or LIMHP and earn at least 1,500 hours of work experience with clients that have serious mental illnesses, whereas LMHPs can be supervised by a wider range of mental health professionals and do not have to meet this experience requirement. LMHPs can work towards LIMHP licensure later in their careers, if desired.
What coursework is required for alcohol and drug counseling licensure in Nebraska?
The minimum education required for an ADC license is a high school diploma and 270 hours of alcohol and drug education. These hours may be completed as part of a college degree, separately, or a combination of both. Coursework requirements are outlined in the provisional licensure application form. The Board provides a list of pre-approved education that meets coursework requirements.
What counseling areas will have the most annual openings in Nebraska?
According to the BLS, there may be 560 annual openings, including replacements, across all reported counseling fields in Nebraska through 2026.6 The greatest number of projected openings per year is for educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (210) and mental health counselors (150).6 Rehabilitation counselors and substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors are both projected to have 90 annual openings, while marriage and family therapy positions may have 20 openings per year.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