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New Mexico Counseling License Requirements

Nearly 4,000 counselors were working in the five major counseling fields in the state of New Mexico as of May 2018.1-5 If you want to work as a professional counselor here, you will likely need to become licensed, and, for most types of counseling, you will need a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling. Keep reading to learn how to become licensed as a Professional Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LPCC), as well as find information on other types of counseling licenses in the state.

Table of Contents
How to Become a Counselor in New Mexico
Professional Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LPCC) Licensing Process
Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in New Mexico
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
School Counselor
Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor (LADAC)
Other Professional Counseling Careers
New Mexico Counseling Career and Salary Information
Counseling Associations in New Mexico
Frequently Asked Questions

How to Become a Counselor in New Mexico

Most types of counseling licenses in New Mexico require applicants to have a master’s degree or above that meets certain coursework requirements. In addition to a degree, counseling licensure usually requires passing a national exam and gaining supervised experience.

1. Decide which area of counseling to pursue.

Before you even get your counseling degree, you should think critically about which type of counseling you would like to practice. Each counseling type has its own degree requirements, so the more clarity you have going into your degree, the faster you can begin working as a counselor.

2. Earn the degree(s) required for your counseling practice area.

Most counseling licenses in New Mexico require a master’s degree or doctoral degree in professional counseling or a closely related field. For example, school counselors have several different pathways they can take to licensure, and not all of them require a master’s degree. Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (LADACs) can become licensed with an associate degree, but will have to complete the maximum number of supervised experience hours.

3. Get licensed to practice counseling in New Mexico.

Finally, after you have the degree you need to practice the type of counseling you want to target, you will be ready to begin the process of becoming licensed. Professional Clinical Mental Health Counselors (LPCCs), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor (LADACs) are regulated by the New Mexico Counseling and Therapy Practice Board, while school counselors are regulated by the New Mexico Public Education Department. Continue reading to find out more about how to become licensed as a professional counselor in New Mexico.

Professional Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LPCC) Licensing Process

To become a Professional Clinical Mental Health Counselor in New Mexico, you must get licensed by the New Mexico Counseling and Therapy Practice Board. Applicants must have a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling or a related field of at least 48 credit hours and with certain content area and practicum requirements. To obtain the required postgraduate professional clinical counseling experience, applicants will first become Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs). Then they can continue the process to become full LPCCs. You can read more about what professional counselors do on our mental health counselor career guide. To become one in New Mexico, you will follow these steps.

1. Apply to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC).

A license as an LMHC will allow you to earn supervised counseling experience without a full license. This license is intended to be a transition license between obtaining your master’s or doctoral degree and full license. An application fee of $75 is due with the notarized application (as of August 2019). You must also include a 2×2 color photo, Attachment C or your Experience Plan, to be completed by your supervisor and included in a sealed envelope, official transcripts, and the Curriculum Worksheet (Attachment E). Once the license is issued, an initial licensure fee of $75 is required along with the application fee.

2. Accrue supervised clinical experience.

In order to become an LPCC, you will need to accrue at least two years of supervised postgraduate professional clinical experience. 3,000 hours of postgraduate clinical client contact (1,000 can be from the internship or practicum) and 100 hours of face-to-face supervision are required.

3. Take and pass the national exams.

Before you can practice as a licensed counselor in the state, you will need to take the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) and the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). The NCE is a 200-question multiple-choice exam and the NCMHCE is a 10-part test using clinical simulations designed to test applicants’ problem-solving ability. Both are administered by the NBCC.

4. Apply for LPCC licensure.

Once you have accrued your clinical experience and passed the required exams, you are ready to apply for licensure. The application fee is $75 as of August 2019 and you will include a photo, Attachment B: Statement of Verification of Postgraduate Supervised Hours completed by your supervisor and sealed in an envelope, and official transcripts.

5. Receive your license.

After the Board has verified that you have met all requirements, you will be granted a Professional Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LPCC) license and be able to practice independently in New Mexico. An additional fee of $220 is required for the initial license.

Professional Counselor Licensure by Reciprocity in New Mexico

If you are licensed as a professional counselor in another state, you can apply to be an LPCC by reciprocity. To do this, you will complete the notarized Licensure by Reciprocity Application, submit the $75 application fee, a 2×2 photo, Attachment A: Statement of Registration, Certification, or Licensure as a Counselor or Therapist in Another State (sent directly from the state in a sealed envelope), and official transcripts.

Counselor Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

The initial LPCC license will be good for 24 months, then licenses are required to be renewed annually. Renewal notices will be mailed in the middle of July. For each renewal period, licensees must complete and submit proof of 40 hours of continuing education units (CEUs) including six CEU hours of ethics. If you provide supervision, you will also need to take three CEU hours of supervision. Licenses can be renewed online and cost $220 to renew.

Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in New Mexico

In addition to Professional Clinical Mental Health Counselors, New Mexico licenses other types of counselors. Other major counseling areas in the state include licensed marriage and family counselors, school counselors, and substance abuse counselors.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)

The New Mexico Counseling and Therapy Practice Board also regulates the counseling profession of Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists in the state. LMFTs are required to have a master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy that meets certain requirements. They also must:

  • Complete two years of postgraduate marriage and family therapy experience, with 1,000 hours being in clinical contact with clients and 200 hours of supervision with 100 hours of individual supervision.
  • Pass the National Marriage and Family Examination (NMFE).
  • Submit your application to the Board.
  • Receive your LMFT license.

For more about what licensed marriage and family therapists do, read our LMFT career guide.

School Counselor

To become a school counselor in New Mexico, you must become licensed by the New Mexico Public Education Department. School counselors in the state are equipped to ensure their students are growing physically, socially, intellectually, emotionally, and vocationally. Applicants should have a master’s degree with school counseling coursework or be licensed as a New Mexico mental health counselor (LPCC or LMHC) with some school counseling graduate coursework or hold a National Certified School Counselor credential. The basic process for becoming a school counselor is:

  • Become a New Mexico licensed mental health counselor or National Certified School Counselor (NCSC).
  • Pass the Content Knowledge Assessment in School Counseling.
  • Apply and receive your school counseling license.

If you want to read more about being a school counselor, see our school counselor career guide.

Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor (LADAC)

Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (LADACs) in New Mexico are also licensed by the New Mexico Counseling and Therapy Practice Board. LADACs need a minimum of an associate degree in counseling or a related field or an unrelated field (reviewed and approved on a case-by-case basis) with certain coursework requirements. Before you can begin accruing experience, you need to apply to become a Licensed Substance Abuse Associate (LSAA). If you hold a bachelor’s degree or graduate degree in counseling, the hours of experience you are required to accrue decrease. The general steps to becoming an LADAC are:

  • Apply to be a Licensed Substance Abuse Associate (LSAA).
  • Earn the supervised experience in alcohol and drug abuse counseling required for your education level.
  • Submit an application to the Board.
  • Take and pass the National Certified Addiction Counselor, Level I (NCAC I) exam.
  • Receive your licence to practice as an LADAC.

Other Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in New Mexico

  • Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC)
  • Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS)
  • Certified Criminal Justice Addictions Professional (CCJP)
  • ​Certified Family Peer Specialist (CFPSW)
  • Certified Peer Support Worker (CPSW)
  • Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS)

If you would like to learn more about substance abuse counseling, read our substance abuse counselor career guide.

Other Professional Counseling Careers

You may also be interested in other areas of professional counseling. To learn more about any of the careers below, click the link.

  • Rehabilitation Counselor
  • Gambling Counselor
  • Genetic Counselor
  • Youth Counselor
  • Guidance Counselor
  • Pastoral Counselor
  • Recreational Therapist

New Mexico Counseling Career and Salary Information

In New Mexico, the counselors with the highest average salary overall are educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors ($56,200), though most counselors in New Mexico work in the area of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health (1,700 total employed, earning $47,040).2,5 Counselors in the “all other” category earn the second-highest average salary, at $52,450, which is several thousand dollars per year above the national average for that category ($47,740)1

Projected job growth for counselors in New Mexico is largely below the national average, though still positive. Mental health counselor jobs (separated into its own category by Projections Central) are expected to grow by 17.7% through 2026, the fastest of any practice area reported in New Mexico, but this is still lower than the national projected rate of 23.1% growth in this category.6 The practice area of rehabilitation counseling is the only practice area expected to outpace national growth at 13% (compared to 12.7% nationally).6

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Counselors, All Other170$52,450
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors1,550$56,200
Marriage and Family Therapists100$49,500
Rehabilitation Counselors280$38,460
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors1,700$47,040

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1-5

Counseling Associations in New Mexico

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to become a professional mental health counselor in New Mexico?

After you get your graduate degree in counseling, New Mexico requires you to gain 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience and pass a series of exams. For most applicants, fulfilling these requirements takes at least two years to accomplish.

How much do counselors in New Mexico make?

New Mexico counselor salaries depend on geographical location, the type of counseling practiced, and the employer, as well as other factors. The average salary of all of the five primary counseling types in New Mexico is $48,730 per year.1-5

Can I become a counselor without a degree in New Mexico?

All counseling practice types discussed on this page require a degree, though some other types of counseling may not. While most counseling careers require a master’s degree, it is possible to become a substance abuse counselor in the state with an associate degree.

Does New Mexico offer licensure by reciprocity for professional counselors?

Yes, to apply to be an LPCC in New Mexico by reciprocity, you will submit a special application along with a Statement of Registration, Certification, or Licensure as a Counselor or Therapist in Another State (sent directly from the state in a sealed envelope), and official transcripts. You will also need to send a photo and the application fee.

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