North Dakota Counseling License Requirements

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 1,470 people are currently working in counseling occupations in North Dakota as of May 2021.1-5 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. If you already hold a license in another state and are looking to practice in North Dakota, visit our Counseling License Reciprocity Guide.

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 in which you’d like to specialize. Deciding ahead of time will ensure you understand the correct licensure requirements and meet the requirements sooner.

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 (the Board) issues licenses for professional counselors; the North Dakota Marriage and Family Therapy Licensure Board (NDMFTLB) licenses marriage and family therapists; and the North Dakota Board of Addiction Counseling Examiners (NBDACE) is responsible for addiction counseling licenses. School counselors are licensed by the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI). 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 (the Board) 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. 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 December 2022, the application fee is $150.

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 the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and the six 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, at least 60 of which must be individual face-to-face supervision. The supervisor must be a North Dakota LPC or LPCC with five years of experience.

4. Apply for and receive your LPC license.

Once you have completed the exam and experience requirements, you will be able to apply to advance from an LAPC to 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 December 2022.

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 11 case studies 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 an 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 December 2022. Once issued, the licensee will hold both LPC and LPCC licenses and will be required to maintain and renew both.

LPCC 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 to 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 License 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 December 2022, 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 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 with a 12-month practicum component. Those who do not complete a 12-month practicum as part of the degree requirements will 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:

  1. Apply as a Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (LAMFT) and request permission to take the Marital and Family Therapy (MFT) Examination from the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB).
  2. Pass the AMFTRB national exam and receive the LAMFT license.
  3. Earn 3,000 hours of supervised experience, including 1,500 hours of direct client clinical services and at least 300 hours of supervision, 150 of which must be individual supervision.
  4. Pass the North Dakota marriage and family therapy state exam.
  5. Submit an application for licensure 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 (NDDPI) offers two paths to become a school counselor, for current teachers and for non-teachers. Since the profession is seen as an extension of teacher certification, an educator’s license is required for both pathways. Those who already hold an Education Standards and Practices Board (ESPB) Educator’s Professional License can apply for a school counselor plan of study route to obtain the credential, which requires the completion of 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 NDPPI website 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:

  1. Apply for a plan of study if you need to complete a school counseling program (licensed teachers only).
  2. Complete the remaining coursework (teachers only).
  3. Obtain a North Dakota Educator’s Professional License (non-teachers only).
  4. Take the Praxis I and Praxis II exams (non-teachers only).
  5. Apply online for and receive your school counselor credential.

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 (NBDACE) 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 in addiction studies from either an accredited program or one that meets specific coursework requirements, while LMACs must have at least a master’s degree in addiction studies or a closely-related field. LACs are eligible to be grandfathered as LCACs after accruing 10,000 hours of clinical experience, if desired. There is no difference in the scope of practice between LCACs and LMACs. Individuals licensed in North Dakota as psychologists, psychiatrists, or physicians also meet the academic requirements for LMAC licensure. LMFTs, LCPCs, licensed independent clinical social workers, or advanced clinical practice nurses can qualify for LAC or LMAC licensure upon the completion of supplemental education and training to satisfy license requirements. After you have completed the educational requirements, you can apply for LAC or LMAC licensure by following these steps:

  1. Submit a Clinical Trainee Registration Form to begin clinical training.
  2. Earn supervised clinical experience (LAC: minimum of 960 hours of clinical training with 40 hours of direct, face-to-face supervision and 30 hours of documentation training; LMAC: minimum of 700 hours of clinical training with 30 hours of direct, face-to-face supervision and 20 hours of documentation training).
  3. Submit a Clinical Trainee Completion Form upon completion of your training program.
  4. Apply to take and pass the required exam (National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC); National Certified Addiction Counselor, Level II (NCAC II) exam for LAC licensure; or the NAADAC Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) exam for LMAC licensure).
  5. Apply for LAC or LMAC licensure.
  6. If you wish to practice independently, submit a Private Practice Registration (for LCACs and LMACs only).

Optional Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in North Dakota

In addition to the credentials listed above, the NBDACE also offers the optional credential of Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS) for North Dakota substance abuse counselors who wish to further boost their qualifications and potentially improve their hiring potential and job possibilities.

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

According to the Bureau of Labors Statistics (BLS), of the estimated 1,470 licensed counselors working in North Dakota, the two largest fields are educational, guidance, and career counseling and advising with 630 positions, and substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counseling with 520 counselors.1,3 Among all states, North Dakota has the second-highest average annual salary in the category of “all other” counselors, and the city of Bismarck is the fifth-highest paying metropolitan area in the same category among all US cities.5 “All other” counseling jobs also earn the highest average annual income of the five major counseling fields in North Dakota at $67,150.5

North Dakota is projected to see growth in several practice areas of counseling through the year 2030.7 The practice areas expected to see the most growth are substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counseling at a rate of 19.5% and 150 new positions, and marriage and family therapy with 23.1% growth and 30 new positions7 These categories are followed by educational, guidance, school, and vocational counseling jobs which may see a growth of 10% and the addition of 60 new positions. Overall, Projections Central estimates that there will be an increase of 250 new jobs in the various counseling professions over these years.7

OccupationNumber Employed1-5Average Annual Salary1-5
Counselors, All Other90$67,150
Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors630$59,080
Marriage and Family Therapists80$50,980
Rehabilitation Counselors100$51,140
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors570$59,880

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 December 2022) at least one month prior to expiry, or else the Board will impose a $100 late fee (as of December 2022). 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. 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?

According to Projections Central, there will be 210 average annual openings for all types of counselors in North Dakota through 2030.6 Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors are projected to have the highest number of average annual job openings (90).7 Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors are projected to have 70 average annual openings, followed by 20 average annual openings for both “all other” counselors and marriage and family therapists.7 Rehabilitation counselors are expected to have the fewest average annual openings (10) of all the categories through 2030, 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 the 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. 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