New York Counseling License Requirements
As of May 2021, there were almost 50,000 counselors working in New York with about half working as educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors (23,610).1-5 If you are considering counseling as a career, it is important to note that licensure is mandatory and the New York State Education Department (NYSED) oversees many of these licensure processes including Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC). Continue reading to learn more about how to earn counseling licensure in New York.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Counselor in New York
- Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) Licensing Process
- Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in New York
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
- School Counselor
- Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) Advanced Counselor
- Other Professional Counseling Careers
- New York Counseling Career and Salary Information
- Counseling Associations in New York
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Become a Counselor in New York
To become a licensed counselor in New York, you will likely need a graduate degree in counseling and extensive clinical training from an accredited institution. There are many counseling schools in New York offering master’s and doctoral degrees that meet the state’s specific licensure requirements. Many common counseling career paths, such as Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs), require licensure that is issued by state bodies. To learn more about the various licensure processes for New York counselors, continue reading the guide below.
1. Choose your preferred area of counseling.
Counselors can work with many different populations and develop expertise in specific areas, such as family therapy, psychotherapy, and behavior modification. Take time to learn about the many opportunities available in each counseling field and choose an area that interests you most as licensure requirements can vary significantly.
2. Earn the degree(s) required for your counseling practice area.
Most New York counselor licenses require a college or university degree from an accredited institution before beginning the licensure process. The requirements vary. LMHCs and LMFTs must have a graduate degree at either the master’s or doctoral level. For their Initial Certificate, school counselors need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and 48 hours of graduate coursework, but for their Professional Certificate, they must have a master’s degree. Those wishing to become Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselors (CASACs) can start this process with a high school degree and may choose to complete a degree while working towards full licensure.
3. Get licensed to practice counseling in New York.
After completing the necessary education, you can apply to the appropriate licensing body to begin the licensure process. For LMHCs and LMFTs, licensure is issued by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) Office of the Professions (the Office). School counselors follow a different path to certification via the New York State Education Department (NYSED) Office of Teaching Initiatives. Professional counselors working in the area of substance abuse are certified by the New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) as Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselors (CASACs). Other types of counseling professionals may be licensed through other state organizations.
Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) Licensing Process
In New York, Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs) can assess and provide treatment to individuals or groups suffering from psychological, behavioral, developmental, or emotional issues. This includes providing psychotherapy along with other interventions and services. You can read more about what professional counselors do on our mental health counselor career guide. In New York, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) Office of the Professions (OP) issues licenses for LMHCs. To become an LMHC, you must be at least 21 years old and have an approved 60-semester hour licensure-qualifying master’s degree or higher in mental health counseling or a degree from a program that satisfies the education requirements equivalent to an approved program. A minimum one year (at least 600 clock hours) supervised internship or practicum in mental health counseling must be completed as part of your degree program and you must also complete mandated training related to child abuse. The OP also offers a checklist to help applicants understand licensure requirements.
1. Apply for an LMHC limited permit.
During your final semester or after the degree requirements, the next step in achieving full licensure is to submit your application for an LMHC limited permit. It is necessary to apply for a limited permit so you can complete the remaining required clinical training. As of December 2022, the fee for a limited permit is $70. The limited permit is good for 24 months and can be extended for a maximum of two additional 12-month periods at the NYSED’s discretion. The application and Certification of Supervisor for Limited Permit forms are available online.
2. Accrue supervised experience.
Once you have completed your master’s degree, you must accrue 3,000 hours of supervised counseling experience in an approved setting with an average of one hour of supervision per week. At least 1,500 of these hours must be in direct contact with clients providing clinical services. Supervision must be provided by an individual licensed in New York in mental health counseling, psychology, or clinical social work, or a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, physician, or physician’s assistant with demonstrated competence in mental health counseling. The hours can be gained in many different types of settings, such as a hospital or clinic, but the setting must be approved by the OP.
3. Apply for LMHC licensure and permission to test.
When you are ready to sit this exam, you can submit your application for LMHC licensure along with the Form 2, Certification of Professional Education, Form 4, Applicant Experience Record, and Form 4B, Certification of Supervised Experience to the OP online in order to receive approval. This application can be submitted at the same time as the limited permit application if desired. As of December 2022, the fee for LMHC licensure is $371.
4. Pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE).
All LMHC applicants are required to pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam (NCMHCE) offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). The NCMHCE tests your professional knowledge of mental health counseling through 11 case studies. A handbook is provided by the NBCC and online study guides are available for purchase to help you prepare. Any necessary accommodations must be approved ahead of time by the OP or else you may be required to retake the exam.
5. Receive your LMHC license.
Once you receive your LMHC license, you are able to use the title of “Licensed Mental Health Counselor” and provide independent services.
LMHC Licensure by Endorsement in New York
Any licensure applicant who is licensed in another state must send a copy of their file to NYSED; however, New York does not offer licensure by reciprocity to counseling professionals working in other states. If you have five years of professional experience as a licensed counselor in the last 10 years, you may be able to submit an application for licensure by endorsement. You will need to submit a Endorsement Applicant Experience Record form along with your application. Licensure by endorsement applicants must be at least 21 years old, have at least a master’s degree in counseling or a closely related field, have completed a clinical internship in your state of licensure, and have passed the NCMHCE or comparable exam. If you are licensed in another state but do not meet these requirements, you must apply as a general applicant.
Counselor License Renewal and Continuing Education Information
Renewal information will be given to you when you receive your license. LMHC licenses must be renewed every three years during your month of birth and can be completed online or by mail. With the exception of the first three-year cycle, LMHCs must complete 36 hours of approved continuing education during each renewable cycle. A maximum of 12 hours per year can be completed via self-study courses. NYSED provides a list of approved continuing education providers online.
Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in New York
Career pathways in counseling can vary widely depending on the setting or population you’d like to engage with. Keep reading to learn more about some other common counseling careers, such as licensed marriage and family therapists, school counselors, and substance abuse counselors.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
In New York, LMFTs must be at least 21 years old and complete various education and training requirements. An approved master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy or an allied health field with significant training in marriage and family therapy is required. Licenses are issued by the NYSED Office of the Professions (the OP) and the licensure fee as of December 2022 is $371. LMFTs provide assessment and treatment services to individuals, partners, and families experiencing dysfunctional relationships or mental health issues.
The LMFT licensure process requires candidates to:
- Apply online for an LMFT limited permit to begin accruing supervised experience.
- Accrue 1,500 hours of supervised direct clinical experience that is documented on the Certification of Supervised Experience.
- Submit an LMFT application online and request permission to test.
- Take and pass the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) Marital and Family Therapy (MFT) Examination
- Receive your LMFT license.
More information about careers in marriage and family therapy can be found in our LMFT career guide.
New York school counselor certification is issued by the (NYSED) Office of Teaching Initiatives under the Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) category. There are various pathways to becoming a school counselor in New York. The Approved Teacher Preparation Program Pathway requires candidates to complete a New York State (NYS) registered program for school counselors. Approved programs are listed on NYSED’s Inventory of Registered Programs. The Individual Evaluation Pathway requires candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution plus 48 semester hours of graduate coursework in school counseling, including a 100-hour college-supervised practicum and a 600-hour college-supervised internship, to be eligible for their Initial Certificate. The Initial Certificate is the entry-level certificate for classroom teachers and is valid for five years. The Professional Certificate under this pathway, which also must be renewed every five years, requires a master’s degree. School counselors in New York have a broad scope of practice as they can work with students from pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade on a variety of age-appropriate personal, educational, behavioral, and career goals.
To become a New York school counselor, follow these steps:
- If applying via the Approved Teacher Preparation Program Pathway, your institution will need to provide an online statement recommending you for certification.
- For all pathways, take the Content Specialty Test (CST) for school counselors from the New York State Teacher Certification Examinations (NYSTCE).
- For all pathways, complete workshops in Child Abuse Identification; Dignity For All Students Act; and School Violence Intervention and Prevention.
- For all pathways, pass fingerprint clearance.
- Apply for your Initial School Counselor certificate in PPS online.
- Complete three years of paid, full-time PPS experience and submit a Verification of Paid Experience Form.
- For the Individual Evaluation Pathway, complete a master’s degree or higher with at least 60 semester hours in school counseling coursework and maintain a 3.0 GPA.
- Meet the Mentored Experience requirement for certification.
- Receive your Professional School Counselor certificate in PPS by mail once approved.
Learn more about what school counselors do by reading our school counseling career guide.
Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) Advanced Counselor
In New York, individuals who provide assessment, treatment, and intervention services for those suffering from substance abuse must be licensed as Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselors (CASACs) by the New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). OASAS offers a tiered credentialing process for substance abuse counselors that includes the CASAC, CASAC 2, and CASAC Advanced Counselor. A high school diploma is the minimum education requirement to become a CASAC. An associate’s degree in an approved human services field is required for the CASAC 2 credential while a bachelor’s degree in any field (plus supervised clinical training) is required for the CASAC Advanced Counselor credential. A CASAC Trainee (CASAC-T) credential is also offered after some of your education and/or experience and training is complete. As a CASAC Trainee, you can look for employment as a junior counselor or similar role and continue to accumulate the remaining clinical work experience needed to obtain full licensure.
In general, you can apply for CASAC licensure by following these steps:
- If desired, apply for a CASAC Trainee (CASAC-T) license once you have completed 350 clock hours of required education and training or 4,000 hours of approved work experience, 85 clock hours of substance use disorder education, and 15 hours of addiction-specific ethics training.
- Complete 6,000 hours of work experience. (An associate’s degree may substitute for up to 1,000 hours of work experience; a bachelor’s degree may substitute for up to 2,000 hours of work experience; and a master’s degree or higher may substitute for up to 4,000 hours of work experience.)
- Complete the mandatory Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) training.
- Submit your application packet to OASAS.
- Take the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium’s (IC&RC) Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) exam.
- Receive your CASAC license in the mail.
Optional Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in New York
In addition to the credentials listed above, the OASAS also offers several other credentials for prospective substance abuse professionals in New York. These credentials do not qualify you to work as a CASAC or substance abuse counselor in the state, but might be of interest to those who wish to work in the addiction and substance abuse field outside of counseling.
- Credentialed Prevention Professional (CPP)
- Credentialed Prevention Specialist (CPS)
- Certified Recovery Peer Advocate (CRPA)
For more information about what it’s like to be a substance abuse counselor, take a look at our substance abuse counseling career guide.
Other Professional Counseling Careers
There are many other types of popular career paths for prospective counselors. Other ways to use your counseling skills in a professional career include:
- Rehabilitation Counselor
- Gambling Counselor
- Genetic Counselor
- Youth Counselor
- Guidance Counselor
- Pastoral Counselor
- Recreational Therapist
New York Counseling Career and Salary Information
As of May 2021, there are 49,290 counselors working in New York across a range of counseling positions according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).1-5 New York ranks second in the country for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (20,010) and third in the country for educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors (23,610).1,3 The average annual salary for counselors in New York ranges from $43,000 for rehabilitation counselors to $70,150 for educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors.3,4 Many counselors work in the New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area, which has more educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors (19,780); substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (19,650); and “all other” counselors (980) than any other metropolitan area in the country and ranks third for marriage and family therapists (3,270) and rehabilitation counselors (2,880).1-5
The job outlook is promising for many types of counselors in New York as growth rates are projected significantly above the national average for all types of counseling jobs. “All other” counselors are projected to experience the highest growth rate at 38.5% for a total of 200 new positions through 2030.6 The highest number of total new jobs is projected for educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (6,490) followed by substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (6,420).6 Rehabilitation counseling positions and marriage and family therapists are projected to increase by 2,120 (22%) and 490 (28.2%) respectively.6
|Average Annual Salary1-5
|Counselors, All Other
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Career Counselors and Advisors
|Marriage and Family Therapists
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
Counseling Associations in New York
- Association for Addiction Professionals of New York (AAPNY): The New York chapter of the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) that seeks to promote awareness of substance abuse issues in New York and advocate for licensure and certification standards.
- New York Marriage and Family Therapy Network (NYMFTN): An Interest Network Group of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) that establishes and maintains professional standards in marriage and family therapy education, training, and practice while providing networking opportunities and resources.
- New York Mental Health Counselors Association (NYMHCA): A state branch of the American Mental Health Counselors Association that advocates on behalf of LMHCs at the state level.
- New York State School Counselor Association (NYSSCA): A professional association that provides members with school counseling resources, professional development, and awards for professional excellence.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best degree program to become an LMHC in New York?
To become an LMHC in New York, you need to complete an approved graduate degree program, such as a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling. A list of approved programs can be found online through NYSED’s Inventory of Registered Programs. NYSED also provides specific instructions for using this online database to find the right programs for the LMHC license.
Can I complete an online degree to become a licensed counselor in New York?
Yes, you can complete an online or distance education degree as long as the degree meets the same education requirements applied to on-campus programs. For LMHC and LMFT licensure, if the degree is based in New York, it must be approved by NYSED. If the degree is based in another state, it will be evaluated by NYSED in the same manner as an on-campus out-of-state degree according to the requirements for the type of licensure sought.
Can I work in private practice while I have an LMHC or LMFT limited permit?
While you have a limited permit, you cannot provide any services in a private practice you own or operate, even with approved supervision. If you would like to complete clinical hours in a private practice owned by your supervisor, the facility must receive prior approval by NYSED as a Department-approved clinical location before you can begin providing services or accruing hours.
Do I need a university degree to work as a licensed counselor in New York?
All of the counseling career paths mentioned above require at least a master’s degree to become licensed (under one pathway, school counselors can get their initial certificate with a bachelor’s degree plus 48 semester hours of graduate coursework, but the professional certificate requires a master’s degree). The only exception is for Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselors (CASACs) who can begin working with only a high school diploma or the equivalent. In order to become fully licensed, these types of counselors are still required to take coursework in a number of related subjects and complete extensive clinical training. CASACs must complete 6,000 hours (or three years) of clinical training, but completing any level of degree in a related field can reduce the number of hours required to be eligible for licensure. For example, CASACs with an approved associate’s degree in human services are only required to complete 5,000 hours of clinical training, 4,000 with a bachelor’s degree, and 2,000 with a master’s degree.
What type of job can I get with a degree in counseling?
Seeking New York counseling licensure is one of the career paths open to graduates with a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling. If you plan to become licensed, make sure your degree program is approved by NYSED beforehand using the Inventory of Registered Programs to avoid disappointment during the licensure process. If you have completed an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in counseling, you will need to continue your education with a graduate degree before seeking licensure.
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