New Hampshire Counseling License Requirements
New Hampshire is home to over 5,500 licensed counselors (as of May 2021) according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).1-5 There are many practice areas available to those interested in a counseling career in New Hampshire and, if you are looking to obtain a counseling license, you will need to be familiar with the state regulations and the processes to become licensed. On this page, you will learn what is required to become a licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CMHC) in New Hampshire as well as other counseling licenses.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Counselor in New Hampshire
- Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CMHC) Licensing Process
- Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in New Hampshire
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
- School Counselor
- Master Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (MLADC)
- Other Professional Counseling Careers
- New Hampshire Counseling Career and Salary Information
- Counseling Associations in New Hampshire
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Become a Counselor in New Hampshire
New Hampshire requires most types of professional counselors to be licensed and have a master’s degree that meets the requirements for the area of specialization. Several schools in New Hampshire offer programs geared towards meeting the state’s specific guidelines. Licensing bodies may also require prospective counselors to meet work experience and testing requirements. If you already hold a license in another state and are looking to practice in New Hampshire, visit our Counseling License Reciprocity Guide.
1. Choose an area of counseling to pursue.
To become a professional counselor, you will need to choose an area of specialization. The pathway to counseling licensure will vary depending on the type of counseling you choose to practice. Understanding the counseling licensure process ahead of time is important because the degree and coursework required for licensure will differ for each practice area.
2. Complete the coursework required for your counseling practice area.
For some types of New Hampshire counseling licenses, applicants need a master’s degree to become licensed. Mental health counselors must have a master’s degree in a related field and marriage and family therapists require master’s degrees in marriage and family therapy or a related field. School counselors are not required to have a master’s degree, but master’s-level coursework in school counseling is required unless the applicant has previous school counseling experience. Substance abuse counselors can earn licensure with an associate’s degree in addiction or a related field, although a bachelor’s degree will reduce work experience requirements and a master’s degree is required for more advanced licensure.
3. Apply for your license to practice counseling in New Hampshire.
The final step in the licensure process is to apply through the correct licensing body in the state. The New Hampshire Board of Mental Health Practice (the Board) issues licenses for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists; the Department of Education’s Bureau of Credentialing (the Bureau) is responsible for school counselors; and the Board of Licensing for Alcohol and Other Drug Use Professionals (the Board) issues licenses for substance abuse counselors. Continue reading this guide to learn more about licensure as a counselor in New Hampshire.
Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CMHC) Licensing Process
In New Hampshire, Clinical Mental Health Counselors (CMHCs) evaluate and diagnose human behavior and mental health disorders using psychological principles and procedures in order to reduce undesirable behaviors and improve interpersonal relationships, personal effectiveness, and mental wellness. If you would like to learn more about a career as a professional counselor, read our mental health counselor career guide. The New Hampshire Board of Mental Health Practice (the Board) is responsible for issuing CMHC licenses to qualified candidates in the state. The Board requires a 60-credit master’s or doctoral degree in clinical mental health counseling with specific course requirements that is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or a similar program from an accredited school.
1. Locate a supervisor and submit a supervision agreement.
To become a CMHC, you must complete supervised work experience. The supervisor must be a Board-approved licensed independent clinical social worker or licensed clinical mental health counselor supervisor or approved by the Board based on similar qualifications. Additionally, the supervisor must have completed a graduate-level clinical supervision course or have a clinical supervision certificate from an approved organization. Once you have located a supervisor, applicants must submit the supervision agreement with the $25 application fee (as of December 2022) to the Board. A new supervision agreement must be sent to the Board as soon as possible if you change supervisors.
2. Accrue supervised experience.
Candidates must complete at least 1,500 hours of post-degree supervised experience each year for two years to meet the 3,000-hour work experience requirement. The supervisor must provide one hour of individual, in-person supervision each week for a total of at least 100 hours during the two-year period. The supervisor must be on-site while the candidate provides counseling services and be familiar with the cases and the setting where services are provided. More details about supervision requirements can be found in the Board rules.
3. Pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE).
CMHC candidates must pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE) administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). The NCMHCE exam has a multiple-choice format that uses 11 case studies to test your knowledge of clinical mental health areas, such as assessment, diagnosis, and evaluation. The NCMHCE handbook provides more information about how to prepare and what to expect.
4. Apply for and receive your CMHC license.
Upon completion of the required experience and exam, you are ready to apply for licensure. The application package required for licensure in New Hampshire is very detailed. In addition to the application form, you must also submit other supporting documents, such as a resume, three professional references, and official undergraduate and graduate degree transcripts. You must also submit a criminal records check for each state where you have resided during the past five years. The $178 application fee must be sent with your initial application and the $135 licensing fee is due once your application is approved (fees current as of December 2022).
CMHC Licensure by Reciprocity in New Hampshire
There are no formal counseling licensure reciprocity agreements in New Hampshire, but the Board accepts applications from candidates licensed in other states on a case-by-case basis. The home state must have licensing requirements similar to or greater than those in New Hampshire, but the Board may waive the supervised experience requirements for candidates who have been licensed and active for at least five years in clinical mental health counseling. Applicants should complete the application form with supporting documentation, such as signed and sealed verifications of other licenses held. As of December 2022, the application fee is $178 and the licensing fee, due once approved, is $135.
Counselor License Renewal and Continuing Education Information
CMHC licenses expire every two years from the date noted on the license. The Board mails renewal notices to licensees at least two months prior to expiration. Licensees should complete the online application and pay the renewal fee of $298 (as of December 2022). Licensees must complete 40 continuing education unit (CEU) hours during each renewal period with at least six hours in professional ethics and three hours in suicide prevention. More information about CE requirements can be found in the Board rules.
Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in New Hampshire
New Hampshire has many different counseling licensure options depending on the type of counseling you’d like to practice. While mental health counseling is one of the major areas of counseling, other licenses are offered in the state for: licensed marriage and family therapists, school counselors, and substance abuse counselors.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
The New Hampshire Board of Mental Health Practice (the Board) also issues marriage and family therapy licenses. Applicants must have a two-year accredited master’s or doctoral degree with a concentration in marriage and family therapy from a regionally-accredited institution or one that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) or a two-year master’s or doctoral degree in a mental health field and a COAMFTE-accredited postgraduate training program. For degrees with a concentration in marriage and family therapy, the degree must meet specific coursework requirements outlined in the Board rules, such as diagnosis, theories of family development, and research, and include a one-year internship with at least 300 hours of direct client contact. In New Hampshire, LMFTs work with individuals, couples, and families to identify, address, and resolve interpersonal and familial issues related to emotional, mental, behavioral, and communication issues. To become licensed, prospective New Hampshire LMFTs must:
- Earn 3,000 hours of supervised experience over the course of two years, including 1,000 hours of face-to-face client contact.
- Request permission to take and pass the Marital and Family Therapy (MFT) National Examination from the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB).
- Apply for and receive your LMFT license.
You can find out more about licensed marriage and family therapist careers on our LMFT career guide.
The New Hampshire Department of Education’s Bureau of Credentialing (the Bureau) is responsible for credentialing school counselors, who are considered educational specialists in the state. The Bureau administers Intern Authorization, the Beginning Educator License, and the Experienced Educator License. The Intern Authorization is for prospective educators to earn experience in a New Hampshire public or non-public school while they wait for the Bureau to approve their report of completion. The Beginning Educator License is for those who qualify for licensure but do not yet have three years of experience. The Experienced Educator Certificate is for those with at least three years of full-time experience who have been evaluated as effective or above for two consecutive years and have successfully completed a license renewal cycle.
There are several pathways to licensure and prior teaching experience is not required. While a graduate degree is not specifically required, most applicants must complete a state-approved school counseling master’s or doctoral program or graduate-level coursework in school counseling with a school counseling internship; applicants with school counseling work experience who do not meet the educational requirements may also apply. In New Hampshire, school counselors administer developmentally-appropriate school guidance programs designed to help students excel academically and personally; at the high school level, they must also provide age-appropriate career and college counseling programs. To become a school counselor, applicants must:
- Apply for a Statement of Eligibility.
- Secure employment in a New Hampshire school.
- Apply for Intern Authorization.
- Complete an individualized professional development plan and earn a Beginning Educator License.
- Accrue three years of full-time experience that is deemed to be “effective” or better for two consecutive years and earn an Experienced Educator License.
To learn more about school counselors and what they do, read our school counseling career guide.
Master Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (MLADC)
The Board of Licensing for Alcohol and Other Drug Use Professionals (the Board) issues two licenses for substance abuse counselors: Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) and Master Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (MLADC). New Hampshire substance abuse professionals specialize in screening, diagnosing, and providing counseling services related to the recovery process and substance abuse disorders; MLADCs are also able to diagnose and treat co-occurring mental health disorders related to substance abuse. The minimum educational requirement for LADC licensure is an associate’s degree in substance use counseling or addiction studies, while MLADCs must have a 60-credit master’s degree in a clinical mental health field (or a master’s degree in a clinical mental health field that is less than 60 credit hours with additional educational hours in drug and alcohol use as described by the Board. Candidates for the MLADC license must also meet clinical work experience requirements. It is not necessary to become licensed as a LADC first, but this is one pathway to an MLADC license, as is earning a license through the Board of Mental Health Practice, such as CMHC. To become an LADC or MLADC, you must follow these steps:
- Complete 270 hours of alcohol and drug education if not completed as part of your degree, as well as 300 hours of supervised practical training in alcohol and drug use counseling.
- Accrue supervised experience (LADC: 6,000 hours with an associate’s degree or 4,000 hours with a bachelor’s degree; MLADC: 3,000 hours of post-master’s clinically supervised direct counseling experience or 1,500 with a valid LADC or CMHC license).
- Pass the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) exam (Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) exam for LADC licensure or the Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC) exam for MLADC licensure).
- Pass a background check.
- Apply for and receive your license.
Optional Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials in New Hampshire
In addition to the credentials listed above, there are several optional credentials offered to substance abuse professionals in New Hampshire. These credentials are not required, but they are available for those who wish to further specialize their training and skills.
- Prevention Certification Board of New Hampshire (the Board): Offers the IC&RC credential Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS).
- Board of Licensing for Alcohol and Other Drug Use Professionals (the Board): Also offers the other credentials for Certified Recovery Support Workers (CRSWs) and Licensed Clinical Supervisors (LCSs).
More about substance abuse counselor careers can be found on our substance abuse counseling career guide.
Other Professional Counseling Careers
Counseling is a broad field and counseling degree holders may work in a variety of settings. Other career paths for counseling professionals may include:
- Rehabilitation Counselor
- Gambling Counselor
- Genetic Counselor
- Youth Counselor
- Guidance Counselor
- Pastoral Counselor
- Recreational Therapist
New Hampshire Counseling Career and Salary Information
New Hampshire counselors have competitive salaries compared with some neighboring states, but several practice areas fall below the national averages in the same counseling fields. The highest-paying counseling area in New Hampshire is educational, guidance, school, and career counseling and advising, with an average annual salary of $53,510 for the 3,080 counselors in the field.3 Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counseling has the second-largest number of counselors with 2,080, earning an average salary of $47,610.1 New Hampshire has the highest concentration of jobs for educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors in the country.3
There will be many new job opportunities in New Hampshire in the near future, with an estimated 790 new counseling positions by 2030, according to Projections Central.6 Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counseling is expected to see the fastest growth (25.4%), which is above the national average of 22.9%, and is projected to see around 520 new positions through 2030.6 This is followed by educational, guidance, school, and vocational counseling, which is expected to grow by 10.7% and see around 220 new positions.6
|Occupation||Number Employed1-5||Average Annual Salary1-5|
|Counselors, All Other||N.Av.||N.Av.|
|Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors||3,080||$53,510|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||90||$50,370|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||2,080||$47,610|
Counseling Associations in New Hampshire
- New Hampshire Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors Association (NHADACA): Dedicated to advancing New Hampshire professionals working in the field of alcohol and drug abuse counseling through education, advocacy, and improving the services for residents who are struggling with substance abuse.
- New Hampshire Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (NHAMFT): Provides education to its members and supports MFTs in New Hampshire.
- New Hampshire Mental Health Counselors Association (NHMHCA): Promotes the profession through public awareness and works with state legislatures to create policies that will develop the field of counseling.
- New Hampshire School Counselor Association (NHSCA): Advocates for the role and programs of professional school counselors by providing professional growth and leadership opportunities and services for members.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can CMHCs provide online counseling in New Hampshire?
The Board states it has received many questions about the practice of online counseling by CMHCs in recent years and has established new rules to clarify this scope of practice. Any mental health counselor who provides online counseling to a New Hampshire resident must be licensed in the state of New Hampshire, including counselors who reside in other states and provide counseling through online or other technological-mediated methods. Additionally, any counselor who resides in New Hampshire and provides mental health counseling services to clients based in other states must be licensed in New Hampshire. The Board also advises counselors to contact the licensing boards in each state where they or their clients reside to ensure they are meeting all licensure guidelines.
What graduate coursework should I complete to earn a school counselor license in New Hampshire?
The Department of Education (the Department) provides a list of approved school counselor programs in New Hampshire, but school counseling coursework can be completed at out-of-state or online institutions as well. Regardless of the institutional location or methods of instruction, applicants must be able to demonstrate their knowledge in various areas of school counseling, such as short-term individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, and college and career preparation. More information about school counseling coursework standards can be found in the Department rules.
Are there counseling careers without a degree in New Hampshire?
Mental health counseling and marriage and family therapy both require a master’s degree for licensure. While school counseling does not require a master’s degree, applicants must either have school counseling work experience or complete graduate-level coursework. For substance abuse counseling, LADCs must have at least an associate’s degree in a related area for licensure and 300 hours of alcohol and drug education, which can be completed as part of the degree requirements or separately. A master’s degree in a related field is required for MLADC licensure.
What are the continuing education requirements for CMHCs?
CMHCs must complete 40 continuing education unit (CEU) hours during each two-year renewal period which must include six hours of ethics training and three hours of suicide prevention. At least 30 hours must be completed through the following activities: participating in a workshop; participating in a home study course (a maximum of 20 hours per renewal period); preparing a workshop (credited as 10 hours); completing graduate coursework; publishing in a peer-reviewed book (credited as 10 hours); and publishing in a peer-reviewed journal (a maximum of six hours per year). Workshops must be provided by a pre-approved organization, such as the American Psychological Association (APA), the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), and the American Counseling Association (ACA). Further details can be found in the Board’s rules.
Which areas of counseling will have the most annual openings in New Hampshire?
In New Hampshire, there are projected to be almost 530 average annual openings, including replacements, across all major counseling areas through 2030.6 The most average annual openings will be for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (260); educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (220); and rehabilitation counselors (40).6 “All other” counselors are projected to have 10 average annual openings and marriage and family therapists are not expected 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, 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