North Dakota Counseling License Requirements

The state of North Dakota is growing; according to the US Census Bureau, its population grew 13.1% to over 760,000 between 2010 and 2018.1 1,650 people are currently working in counseling occupations in North Dakota, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).2-6 If you are interested in a career in professional counseling in North Dakota, you will need to understand the licensure regulations and the process to become one. On this page, you will learn the requirements for becoming a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) in North Dakota as well as other counseling licenses.

Table of Contents
How to Become a Counselor in North Dakota
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) Licensing Process
Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in North Dakota
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
School Counselor
Licensed Master Addiction Counselor (LMAC)
Other Professional Counseling Careers
North Dakota Counseling Career and Salary Information
Counseling Associations in North Dakota
Frequently Asked Questions

How to Become a Counselor in North Dakota

To become a professional counselor in North Dakota, you must have a related degree or training and be licensed by the appropriate state licensing body. Several North Dakota schools offer programs to help you meet requirements, though programs located out of state may also qualify. You may also need to meet experience and exam requirements.

1. Choose which area of counseling to pursue.

There are many different types of counseling and each has different licensure requirements. Before beginning your counseling career, you must choose an area of counseling you’d like to specialize in. Deciding ahead of time will ensure you understand the correct licensure requirements and meet the requirements faster.

2. Complete the education required for your chosen area of counseling.

In North Dakota, most of the major types of counseling licensure require a degree with specialized coursework or training. Professional counselors and marriage and family therapists must have a master’s degree in a related field. School counselors must complete a school counselor training program or have a master’s degree in counseling. Addictions counselors must have at least a bachelor’s degree and need a master’s degree to be eligible for a more advanced license.

3. Get licensed to practice counseling in North Dakota.

The final step to counseling licensure in North Dakota is to obtain the correct license for your practice area from the regulatory body. The North Dakota Board of Counselor Examiners issues licenses for professional counselors; the North Dakota Marriage and Family Therapy Licensure Board licenses marriage and family therapists; and the North Dakota Board of Addiction Counseling Examiners is responsible for addiction counseling licenses. School counselors are licensed by the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. Continue reading to learn more about these licensure processes in North Dakota.

Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) Licensing Process

The North Dakota Board of Counselor Examiners has a progressive licensing system for Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCCs). In North Dakota, LPCs provide counseling and therapeutic services to individuals and groups using specialized knowledge of human development, psychotherapy, and mental health; LPCCs are licensed to provide these services as well as clinical mental health counseling services, such as diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. If you would like to learn more about a career as a professional counselor, read our mental health counselor career guide. As of July 2017, the Board requires all North Dakota applicants to have a 60-credit master’s degree in counseling with at least 700 hours of a practicum or internship. For the LPC license, the degree must include coursework in 10 key areas, including counseling methods, counseling-related research methods, and multicultural counseling; aspiring LPCCs must also complete coursework in clinical counseling, diagnosis, and psychopathology.

1. Apply as a Licensed Associate Professional Counselor (LAPC) and request permission to test.

The first stage of licensure is to become an associate counselor so you can gain supervised experience. Applicants should send the application form, three letters of reference, a statement of intent, and official transcripts to the Board. Once received, the Board sends instructions on how to complete state and federal fingerprint and background checks; these checks must be completed before a license will be issued. The Board accepts applications from individuals in their final semester of graduate study, but an official final transcript must be received before the license will be issued. As of September 2019, the application fee is $150 and the fee for testing approval is $40.

2. Pass the National Counselor Examination (NCE).

The Board requires applicants to pass the National Counselor Exam (NCE) administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). This multiple-choice exam tests for knowledge of the eight core areas of counseling defined by CACREP and the five counseling work behaviors identified by the NBCC’s national job analysis. The NBCC provides an online handbook to help candidates understand the registration process and exam content. Links to additional resources for exam prep are also available on the NBCC website. Once approval is received, candidates must attempt the exam within six months; however, the Board only allows two attempts per one-year period.

3. Submit a plan for supervision and accrue supervised experience.

As part of the LAPC application, candidates must also submit a plan for supervision. This document can be submitted or changed at any stage during the LAPC licensure review process but the accrual of supervision hours cannot begin until the license is issued. Once the LAPC license is issued, the LAPC must accrue at least two years of counseling experience, including 200 client contact hours per year with at least 10 clients. Facilitating an ongoing counseling group is counted as one client and no more than five groups can be used to meet these requirements. LAPCs must also receive 100 hours of direct counseling supervision spread out during the training period. The supervisor must be a North Dakota LPC or LPCC with five years of experience; in instances where there is a documented difficulty locating an LPC supervisor, another licensed mental health professional may be accepted.

4. Apply for and receive your LPC license.

Once an LAPC has completed the exam and experience requirements, they are able to apply for an LPC license using the LPC application form. The application package should be submitted at least six weeks prior to the LAPC license expiry as LAPCs cannot practice, even under supervision, once the license has expired. LPC candidates must continue to receive supervision until the LPC license is received. The LPC application fee is $150 as of September 2019.

5. Meet clinical experience requirements.

LPCs who wish to provide clinical counseling services must meet the clinical education requirements described above and may be required to take additional coursework if not completed as part of the original degree. Aspiring LPCCs must also complete 3,000 hours of post-master’s work experience in a clinical setting supervised by an LPCC. They must receive 100 hours of clinical supervision, including at least 60 hours of individual supervision. This experience must be completed in not less than two years.

6. Pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam (NCMHCE).

To become an LPCC, you must pass the NBCC’s National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam (NCMHCE). This exam uses simulations to test clinical counseling competencies. An online handbook is available to candidates that describes the format and content.

7. Apply for and receive your LPCC license.

Once you have met the education, experience, and exam requirements, you can apply for a LPCC license. The LPCC application form must be accompanied by three reference letters, including one from the clinical supervisor. The application fee is $150 as of September 2019. Once issued, the licensee will hold both LPC and LPCC licenses and will be required to maintain and renew both.

Professional Counselor Licensure by Reciprocity in North Dakota

While North Dakota does not have any formal reciprocity agreements with other states for counseling licensure, the Board accepts applications from licensed individuals for both LPC and LPCC licenses on a case-by-case basis. Reciprocity applicants must submit the application form and fee, along with a copy of their license, and the administrative rules in the state where they are licensed. The requirements must be similar or greater than those set by the Board in North Dakota. Applicants must also provide contact information for the licensing board in the home state and disclose any issues with their current license, including restrictions or disciplinary issues.

Counselor Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Counseling licenses expire every two years and must be renewed. The Board sends renewal notices in the mail at least two months prior to expiration but ultimately it is the responsibility of the licensee to ensure their license is valid. The LPC and LPCC renewal form is available online. As of September 2019, the LPC renewal fee is $150 and the LPCC renewal fee is $75. LPCs must complete 30 continuing education (CE) hours, including three hours of professional ethics training, and LPCCs must complete an additional 10 hours specifically in clinical counseling. Examples of acceptable CE activities include attending professional conferences or workshops and earning graduate-level academic credits. More information about CE is available on the Board’s website.

Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in North Dakota

Counseling career pathways vary depending on the type of counseling you plan to practice. Several other popular types of counseling licensure in North Dakota are discussed below: licensed marriage and family therapy, school counseling, and substance abuse counseling.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)

The North Dakota Marriage and Family Therapy Licensure Board (NDMFTLB) issues licenses for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs). The minimum educational requirement is a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or a related field, preferably with a 12-month practicum component. Those who do not complete a 12-month practicum as part of the degree requirements may be required to complete additional training as part of associate licensure requirements. In North Dakota, LMFTs use systems and human development theories and models to provide counseling services to individuals, couples, and families related to marital, interpersonal, and family systems. To apply for LMFT licensure, the process requires candidates to:

  • Apply as a Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (LAMFT) and request permission to take the AMFTRB national exam.
  • Pass the AMFTRB national exam and receive the LAMFT license.
  • Earn supervised experience.
  • Pass the North Dakota marriage and family therapy state exam.
  • Request and receive your LMFT license.

Read more about licensed marriage and family therapist careers on our LMFT career guide.

School Counselor

The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction offers two paths to become a school counselor, for current teachers and for non-teachers. Since the profession is seen as an extension of teaching certification, an educator’s license is required for both pathways. Those who are already licensed educators can apply for a school counselor plan of study route to obtain the credential, which requires a state-approved school counselor program. Those who are not licensed to teach qualify for a school counselor credential with a master’s in counseling, education, or a related field with certain coursework requirements that can be found on the Board’s website, including a 450-hour supervised school-based internship. In addition to the educational requirements, the following steps must be completed to become a school counselor:

  • Apply for a plan of study if you need to complete a school counseling program (current teachers only).
  • Complete the remaining coursework (teachers only).
  • Obtain a professional educator’s license (non-teachers only).
  • Take the qualifying Praxis exam (non-teachers only).
  • Apply for and receive your school counselor credential online.

If you would like to learn more about becoming a school counselor, see our school counselor career guide.

Licensed Master Addiction Counselor (LMAC)

Addiction counselors in North Dakota provide counseling, assessment, and consulting services for substance abuse and addiction disorders; services may be provided on an individual or group basis. The North Dakota Board of Addiction Counseling Examiners has recently changed the addiction counselor licensing process and now offers three credentials for aspiring addiction counselors: Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC), Licensed Clinical Addiction Counselor (LCAC), and Licensed Master Addiction Counselor (LMAC). These credentials can be progressive as you earn more supervised experience and education, but they do not have to be. LACs and LCACs must have at least a bachelor’s degree, while LMACs must have at least a master’s degree. After you have completed the educational requirements, you can apply for LMAC licensure by following these steps:

  • Apply to be a Clinical Trainee.
  • Earn supervised clinical experience, and pass the NAADAC MAC exam.
  • Apply for LMAC licensure.
  • If you wish to practice independently, apply for Private Practice Registration.

Other Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in North Dakota

  • Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS)

More about addiction counselor careers can be found on our substance abuse counseling career guide.

Other Professional Counseling Careers

There are many subdisciplines found within the counseling field. Examples of other types of counseling career paths include:

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

North Dakota Counseling Career and Salary Information

Of the estimated 1,650 licensed counselors working in North Dakota, the two largest fields are substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counseling with 760 counselors and educational, guidance, school, and vocational with 690 counselors.2,4 Among all states, North Dakota has the second-highest concentration of jobs in the category of “all other counselors,” and the city of Bismarck has the third-highest concentration in the same category among all US cities.6 The highest average annual income in counseling fields in North Dakota is $55,220 in substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counseling.2

North Dakota is projected to see considerable growth in every practice area of counseling through the year 2026.7 The practice areas that are expected to outpace the state’s population growth are marriage and family therapy, adding 50 positions (35.7% growth), mental health jobs increasing by 30 positions (33.3% growth), and substance abuse and behavioral disorders adding another 60 jobs (18.2% growth).7 Overall, Projections Central estimates that there will be an increase of 290 jobs in the various counseling professions over these years.7

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Counselors, All Other260$46,200
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors690$57,250
Marriage and Family Therapists40$45,210
Rehabilitation Counselors160$47,930
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors760$55,220

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.2-6

Counseling Associations in North Dakota

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the continuing education (CE) requirements for North Dakota professional counselors?

LPCs must complete 30 hours of CE during each two-year renewal period and LPCCs must complete 10 additional hours specifically in clinical counseling. All counselors must complete at least three of the required hours in professional ethics. A maximum of 15 hours can be credited for one specific topic or type of activity during each renewal period and at least half of all required hours must be earned through face-to-face methods. Licensees may also receive credit for presenting on a counseling-related topic or completing an academic course. Licensees must provide the provider’s contact details and a brief description of all CE activities with their renewal application and should retain proof of attendance for at least three years.

When do I renew my North Dakota professional counseling license?

Licenses expire biennially based on the date of issue. The Board sends reminder notices to licensees approximately two months prior. Licensees must send the renewal form, showing completion of the required continuing education hours, and fee ($150 for LPCs and $75 for LPCCs as of September 2019) at least one month prior to expiry or else the Board will impose a $100 late fee (as of September 2019). If the renewal documents, renewal fee, and late fee are not received before the license expires, the license is invalid and the licensee must not practice until the license renewal is approved by the Board.

Who can be a professional counseling supervisor in North Dakota?

All LAPCs must receive 100 hours of approved supervision from an approved supervisor to be eligible for LPC licensure and at least 60 hours must be provided individually. The Board prefers that supervisors be North Dakota LPCs or LPCCs with five years of experience, but new rules allow up to 50 hours of supervision to be provided from a licensed mental health professional other than a professional counselor if the student has a documented difficulty finding a professional counseling supervisor. Prospective supervisors must complete 30 hours of supervision training to become certified by the Board and must have a qualification equal to or greater than the qualification sought by the supervisee.

What counseling fields have the most annual openings in North Dakota?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 220 annual openings for counselors in North Dakota through 2026.7 Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors are projected to have the highest number of new job openings (90), which is more than double any other field.7 Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors are projected to have 40 annual openings, followed by 30 annual openings for both rehabilitation counselors and all other counselors.7 Marriage and family therapists are projected to have 20 annual openings, while mental health counselors are projected to have 10 openings per year, including replacements.7

Can I complete an online degree for professional counseling licensure in North Dakota?

The Board accepts online counseling degrees that meet the general education requirements. For LPC licensure, the degree must include 60 credits in 10 identified counseling areas, a 100-hour practicum, and a 600-hour internship; for LPCC licensure, the degree must also include coursework in psychopathology and diagnosis of mental disorders. The Board requires that the practicum and internship are reviewed, approved, and supervised by the academic institution and that the internship is completed on-site. Therefore, while most of the degree requirements can be met through online education, the entire degree program cannot be completed online.

1. US Census Bureau, Quick Facts, North Dakota: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/ND
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211018.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Marriage and Family Therapists: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211013.htm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211012.htm
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Rehabilitation Counselors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211015.htm
6. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Counselors, All Other: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211019.htm
7. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections 2016-2026: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm