Nebraska Counseling License Requirements
With more than 3,700 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. Most types of counseling licenses require possessing a master’s degree, passing an exam, and gaining work experience. 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. If you already hold a license in another state and are looking to practice in Nebraska, visit our Counseling License Reciprocity Guide.
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 (DHHS) 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.
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner (LIMHP)/Certified Professional Counselor (CPC) Licensing Process
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS or the Department) offers both licensure and certification for mental health professionals/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 also 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 master’s or doctoral degree of at least 60 graduate semester hours in a therapeutic mental health field with a practicum component of at least 300 clock hours or direct client contact. The program should meet the educational requirements accepted by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
1. Apply for a Provisionally Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (PLMHP) license.
Provisional licensure is required before supervised experience 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 December 2022.
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. Supervised hours must be documented using the LMHP affidavit of supervised experience or LIMHP affidavit of supervised experience. 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’s graduate program was not substantially equivalent to an accredited program, 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.
3. Pass the required exams.
All prospective counselors must take and pass the Nebraska Mental Health Jurisprudence Examination, which is available online. Aspiring counselors must also pass one of the accepted national exams while completing supervised experience. To receive approval to take the exam, you will submit the exam application to the Department. 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.
4. Apply for and receive your license and CPC certificate.
When you are ready to apply for licensure and certification, use the application form and indicate you are applying for both licensure and CPC certification. The fee for licensure is $155 for the LIMHP or $205 for both the LMHP and the LIMHP (or $38.75 and $63.75, respectively, if applying in March through August of an even-numbered year). The fee for certification is $50 for the professional counselor designation ($25 if applying in March through August of an even-numbered year). You can have your license fee waived if you are a young worker (under the age of 26), low-income, or part of a military family. If applying as an LIMHP, you will have to complete a criminal background check as part of your application, which costs $15.50 as of December 2022. 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, the month in which the application is received, and whether the applicant is already licensed as an LMHP for LIMHP licensure.
LMHP/LIMHP 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 at least five years of independent practice experience in another state. Reciprocity applicants should submit an application and must pass the Nebraska jurisprudence exam.
Counselor License 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 four hours of ethics training. LIMHPs must complete six hours of CE relating to the diagnosis and treatment of major mental disorders each renewal period. The Department does not review or approve CE providers or offerings 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 (DHHS or the Department) is also 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 the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE), the applicant must submit an official transcript 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:
- Apply as a Provisionally Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (PLMHP).
- Earn 3,000 hours of supervised experience as described above.
- Submit the exam application to the Department and pass the Marital and Family Therapy (MFT) National Examination from the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB).
- Pass the online Nebraska Mental Health Jurisprudence Examination.
- 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 licensed educators who collaborate with leadership, other staff, and students to improve students’ academic and personal achievement. Prospective school counselors must seek certification endorsement through the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) to be able to work in this role. There are three types of certification based on grade levels: PK-6; grades 7-12; and PK-12. All applicants need to have a master’s degree in counseling of at least 36 semester hours with a specialization in school counseling. In addition to the master’s degree, applicants need to:
- Earn a teaching certificate with any endorsement listed within Rule 24.
- 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 Professional School Counselor exam.
- 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 (DHHS or the Department). Applicants must have a high school degree or GED, although a degree with substance abuse-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 International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (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.
- Complete 300 hours of supervised practical training in the 12 core functions of alcohol and drug counseling.
- Apply as a Provisional Alcohol and Drug Counselor (PLADC).
- Complete 6,000 hours of supervised, paid experience.
- Apply to take and pass the IC&RC Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) exam.
- Apply for and receive your LADC credential.
Optional Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Nebraska
In addition to LADC certification, DHHS also offers a related Certified Peer Support Specialist (CPSS) credential, which is specifically for applicants who have been successful in their own recovery (for at least one year) or as a parent or guardian of someone who has received behavioral health services. The scope of work for CPSSs is more limited than that of LADCs, and this certification does not qualify you to engage in counseling services.
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 subspecialty of educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors is the largest group of counselors employed in the state (1,770 employed) and those in this group earn an average of $62,660, which is slightly below the national average of $63,090.3 The second-largest group of counselors in Nebraska (1,540 employed) are substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors.1 The 360 rehabilitation counselors in the state earn an average salary of $43,070, just below the national average.4
Nebraska should see a fair amount of growth in all counseling areas, according to long term estimates from Projections Central.6 By 2030, the state is expected to add close to 630 new counseling positions.6 The fastest growth is expected in the substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counseling category with a 20.4% increase in jobs over a 10-year period (compared to 22.9% projected nationally), which could account for 420 new positions.6
|Occupation||Number Employed1-5||Average Annual Salary1-5|
|Counselors, All Other||70||$42,980|
|Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors||1,770||$62,660|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||N.Av.||$42,660|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||1,540||$53,360|
Counseling Associations in Nebraska
- Nebraska Association of Addiction Professionals (NAADAC Nebraska): State branch of the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC), providing training opportunities and resources for substance abuse counselors.
- 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.
- 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.
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 as 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 the coursework standards outlined in the application package. While degree programs accredited by COAMFTE, CACREP, or the Council on Social Work Education (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 transcripts 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: the Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (LMHP) and the 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 Projections Central, there will be an average of 540 annual openings, including replacements, across all reported counseling fields in Nebraska through 2030.6 The greatest number of projected openings per year is for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (250) and educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors (210).6 Rehabilitation counselors and marriage and family therapists are projected to have an average of 40 openings per year.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