Ohio Counseling License Requirements
As of May 2021, there are over 27,000 people working in various types of counseling positions in Ohio.1-5 Licensure is mandatory for many counseling professions, so if you are considering becoming a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) or another professional counselor, you should educate yourself about the regulations and processes to licensure in the state of Ohio. If you are interested in pursuing a counseling career, this page provides information on some of the common types of counseling licensure in Ohio, counseling career resources, and the job outlook in the state.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Counselor in Ohio
- Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) Licensing Process
- Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Ohio
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)
- School Counselor
- Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor (LICDC)
- Other Professional Counseling Careers
- Ohio Counseling Career and Salary Information
- Counseling Associations in Ohio
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Become a Counselor in Ohio
Ohio requires licensure for many of the common counseling professions. A master’s degree in a related field is also required other than some types of substance abuse counseling. There are many counseling schools in Ohio that offer programs to help you meet education requirements in the state. The licensure process may also include passing related exams and submitting evidence of necessary work experience. If you already hold a license in another state and are looking to practice in Ohio, visit our Counseling License Reciprocity Guide.
1. Decide which area of counseling to pursue.
Since each type of counseling licensure in Ohio has different requirements for education and work experience, the first step to beginning a career in this field is choosing the specific type of counseling you’d like to pursue.
2. Earn the degree(s) required for your counseling practice area.
The two types of licensure for mental health counseling, Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC), both require a master’s degree in a counseling-related field, such as mental health counseling. Other types of licensure also require a master’s degree, such as a degree in marriage and family therapy for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) and a master’s degree in school counseling for licensed School Counselors. A graduate degree in behavioral science for Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselors (LCDCs) can be advantageous, but other types of substance abuse counseling licensure are available to associate’s and bachelor’s degree holders.
3. Get licensed to practice counseling in Ohio.
After completing your education, you will apply to the board or department that regulates your license. Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC), and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy licenses are issued by the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapy Board (the Board). The Ohio Department of Education (DOE) issues school counselor licenses and the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board (the Board) is responsible for substance abuse counseling licensure. Keep reading to learn more about the various types of Ohio counseling licensure.
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) Licensing Process
The main type of counseling licensure in Ohio is the Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC). LPCCs provide services to individuals and groups with a range of emotional and mental challenges and are able to assess, diagnose, and treat mental disorders. If you would like to learn more about a career as a professional counselor, read our mental health counselor career guide. In Ohio, this license is issued by the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapy Board (the Board). A master’s degree in a counseling-related field with a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship is required. The Board does not provide a list of approved programs but if your chosen counseling program is not accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) in clinical mental health counseling, clinical rehabilitation counseling, or addiction counseling, you will be required to submit supplementary documents about your coursework and training.
1. Register as a Counselor Trainee (CT), if required.
The first stage of Ohio counseling licensure is not mandatory and is determined by the educational institution or the workplace setting for the practicum or internship. Some institutions or internship settings may require a student to register with the Board as Counselor Trainee (CT) while completing the required practicum or internship. In these cases, students must submit a CT application online to the Board with a background check and proof of enrollment. As of December 2022, there is no fee. Individuals may not identify themselves as CTs unless they have been approved for this stage of licensure by the Board.
2. Apply for LPC licensure and permission to sit the required exam.
LPC applications can be submitted online using Ohio’s eLicense portal. You must also submit your official transcripts and criminal record checks from the FBI and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation. It is possible to request permission to sit the exam when you are in the final semester of a CACREP-accredited graduate degree. If your program is not CACREP-accredited, you will have to wait until your degree has been conferred and include an evaluation form from your internship supervisor and a course worksheet with your application. The Board requires all applicants to watch the Ohio Laws and Rules video as part of the application process. The video is freely available online and can be reviewed at any time. As of December 2022, the application fee is $83.50.
3. Pass the National Counselor Examination (NCE).
Applicants must have pre-approval from the Board to sit the National Counselor Exam (NCE), a multiple choice exam offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). Once you are approved, you will need to pass the exam within six months before your letter of eligibility from the Board expires. Study guides are available online to help you prepare.
4. Receive your LPC license.
Once your test scores are received, the Board will process your application. Your license will be issued once the Board receives proof that your degree has been conferred. The status of your license application can be viewed in your online eLicense portal.
5. Accrue supervised experience to become an LPCC.
To be eligible for LPCC licensure, you must complete at least 1,500 hours of LPC work experience per year for at least two years under the supervision of a Board-approved LPCC supervisor (LPCC-S). The supervised experience must include the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. To become an LPCC-S, potential supervisors must have at least one year of experience as an LPCC and at least 24 hours of Board-approved supervision training.
6. Apply for LPCC licensure and permission to test.
After you have completed the necessary supervised experience, you must submit your application online, including background checks and transcripts. Your supervisors must also submit online supervision forms confirming your experience. The LPCC application fee is $103.50 as of December 2022. Once your education and work experience is confirmed, you will be eligible to test.
7. Pass the required exam.
To progress from LPC to LPCC, you are required to pass the NBCC National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam (NCMHCE). The Board will send you a letter of eligibility to test valid for six months. Once you have passed the exam, send a copy of your exam results to the Board to complete your application.
8. Receive your license.
LPCC licenses are issued once all documents are received, including background checks and exam results. You will be able to view the status of your application and your license information in the eLicense portal once granted.
LPCC Licensure by Reciprocity in Ohio
Ohio has a reciprocity agreement with the state of Kentucky. This means that a Kentucky counseling license can be valid for licensure in Ohio, but first, you need to apply for licensure by reciprocity using the eLicense system. If you have been licensed in a state other than Kentucky for at least five years, have a graduate degree in counseling from an accredited school, and have already passed either the NCE or NCMHCE, you may be eligible for licensure by endorsement. You can apply to the Board for licensure by endorsement by sending your transcripts, exam results, criminal records checks, and a copy of your license to the Board. LPCC applicants will also need to send documentation of two years of acceptable work experience.
Counselor License Renewal and Continuing Education Information
Ohio counseling licenses must be renewed every two years from the date of issue. Renewal notices are emailed with instructions on how to log into Ohio’s eLicense system and complete the renewal online. The Board requires 30 hours of continuing education, including three hours of ethics training, during each two-year period. As of December 2022, it costs $83.50 to renew an LPC license and $103.50 to renew an LPCC license.
Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Ohio
When planning your counseling career path, it is good to keep in mind that the steps may vary depending on the type of counseling you would like to practice. Other types of counseling jobs that require licensure in Ohio are licensed marriage and family therapists, school counselors, and substance abuse counselors.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)
In Ohio, there are two main types of marriage and family therapy professionals known as Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) and Independent Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (IMFTs). Both provide services to couples, families, and individuals for issues related to intimacy, relationships, emotions, or other interpersonal challenges. ILMFTs must complete additional training and are allowed to diagnose mental or emotional disorders. To become an MFT or IMFT, a graduate degree in marriage and family therapy is required. These licenses are issued by the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist Board (the Board). The Board requires aspiring marriage and family therapists to complete a master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy from a program accredited by the Commission On Accreditation Of Marriage And Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) or from a program that meets specific coursework, practicum, and internship requirements outlined on the Board’s website. After completing the necessary education, prospective applicants can follow these steps to licensure:
- Apply online for an MFT license and request permission to take the Marital and Family Therapy (MFT) National Examination from the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB).
- Complete at least two years of supervised experience, including at least 200 hours of face-to-face training supervision (100 of which must be individual supervision) and 1,000 hours of direct client contact to be eligible to apply for IMFT licensure.
- Apply online for IMFT licensure.
- Receive your IMFT license.
To learn more about MFT careers, visit our MFT career guide.
School counselors are licensed by the Ohio Department of Education (DOE) as part of the Professional Pupil Services license program. Licenses are valid for five years and enable the school counselor to work with students of all grades between kindergarten and twelfth grade on emotional, behavioral, and academic issues. An approved master’s degree in school counseling from an approved program with a 600-hour internship is required. Both Ohio Board-licensed counselors and those holding a valid, standard Ohio teaching certificate or professional teaching license can be issued a one-year Temporary Pupil Services license while they complete an approved school counselor licensure program. After completing a graduate degree, follow these steps to become a school counselor:
- Pass the Ohio Assessment for Educators School Counselor exam.
- Complete both the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) and FBI criminal background checks.
- Submit an application to the DOE online, including transcripts, exam results, and background check results.
- Receive your license online.
If you’d like to read more about the school counselor career path, visit our school counseling career guide.
Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor (LICDC)
The Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board (the Board) issues four primary licenses for substance abuse professionals. The first level is Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant (CDCA) for applicants who only have a high school diploma. For the Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor II (LCDC II) license, you need an associate’s degree in a behavioral science or nursing, or a bachelor’s degree in any subject. For the LCDC III license, you must have a bachelor’s degree in a behavioral science or nursing. For the Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor (LICDC) license, you will need a master’s degree in a behavioral science or nursing. Once you have completed your desired level of education, you can obtain a license by following these steps:
- If applying for CDCA, first apply online to become a CDCA Preliminary (CDCA PRE) and complete the required 40 hours of education. You must hold the CDCA PRE for 10 months before applying for CDCA. The CDCA PRE is valid for 13 months and cannot be renewed.
- Complete chemical dependency-specific education in the required content areas (30 hours for CADC or 180 hours for LCDC II, LCDC III, and LICDC).
- Complete one year (2,000 hours) of chemical dependency counseling-related work experience or supervised internship/practicum that includes 220 hours in the12 core functions for LCDC II, LCDC III, and LICDC.
- Apply for licensure online and receive permission to take the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) exam.
- Pass the exam.
- Receive your license online.
Optional Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Ohio
In addition to the credentials listed above, the Board also offers an optional Clinical Supervisor (CS) Endorsement for experienced LIDICs who wish to further expand their expertise and possibly improve their job opportunities. The Board also offers several other credentials for those wanting to work as prevention specialists in Ohio. These credentials are separate from chemical dependency counselor licensure and offer alternative pathways to working in this field.
- Ohio Certified Prevention Consultant (OCPC)
- Ohio Certified Prevention Specialist (OCPS)
- Ohio Certified Prevention Specialist Assistant (OCPSA)
More information about substance abuse counseling careers can be found in our substance abuse counseling career guide.
Other Professional Counseling Careers
Counseling is a broad field and you can choose to work with a variety of populations throughout your career. Here are some other types of counseling careers that may interest you:
- Rehabilitation Counselor
- Gambling Counselor
- Genetic Counselor
- Youth Counselor
- Guidance Counselor
- Pastoral Counselor
- Recreational Therapist
Ohio Counseling Career and Salary Information
As of May 2021, 27,210 people work in various types of counseling jobs in the state of Ohio.1-5 The highest number of counselors are employed as substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (11,600) and educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors (11,390).1,3 The North Northeastern Ohio nonmetropolitan area ranked second for the highest employment of educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors and fourth-highest for rehabilitation counselors among nonmetropolitan areas in the country (660 and 290 respectively).3,4 Average salaries in Ohio are slightly lower than national averages, with the exception of rehabilitation counselors who report an average salary of $45,120 compared to the national average of $44,740.1-5 The largest difference is for marriage and family therapists who report $54,600 on average per year compared to $59,660 nationally.2
The highest growth rate among Ohio counseling jobs is projected for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (20.8%) resulting in 1,920 new jobs through 2030.6 This is followed by an expected 15.6% growth rate for rehabilitation counselors, which is higher than the national average (10.4%), resulting in 780 new jobs, and marriage and family therapists at 12.5% growth and 30 new jobs.6
|Occupation||Number Employed1-5||Average Annual Salary1-5|
|Counselors, All Other||710||$47,440|
|Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors||11,390||$62,990|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||230||$54,600|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||11,600||$51,110|
Counseling Associations in Ohio
- Northwest Ohio Counseling Association (NWOCA): A chapter of the OCA connecting counselors in Toledo and the surrounding area through networking and annual counselor and supervisor awards.
- Ohio Association of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Counselors (OAADAC): An Ohio affiliate of the National Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) that advocates for the highest quality and most up-to-date science-based services for clients, families, and communities.
- Ohio Association for Specialists in Group Work (OASGW): A professional development organization for counselors who specialize in assessment and services for couples, families, and groups.
- Ohio Counseling Association (OCA): State-wide organization for all types of counselors with an annual conference and counseling outreach month.
- Ohio School Counselor Association (OSCA): Connects school counselors across the state through professional development opportunities and resources.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between LPC and LPCC licensure?
The difference between LPC and LPCC licensure is the scope of practice. As an LPC, you are not allowed to diagnose mental or emotional disorders without Board-approved supervision. If you become a supervisor, you will only be able to supervise LPC trainees. Once you have received LPCC licensure, you will be able to diagnose independently and apply for LPCC-S designation after completing the necessary requirements.
What are the Ohio license requirements for LMFTs?
In Ohio, the Board requires students to complete an internship with at least 500 hours of direct client service delivery and must include 100 hours of supervision as part of the graduate degree. No further work experience is required. If you wish to progress to earn IMFT licensure, you will need two years of documented and supervised work experience, including at least 1,000 hours of direct client service delivery and 200 hours of face-to-face supervision.
Do I need to be a teacher before I can become a school counselor?
The Department of Education does not require prospective Ohio school counselors to be licensed teachers. Even if you are a licensed teacher, you will need to complete a master’s degree in school counseling before applying for licensure. If you are a licensed teacher in Ohio with at least two years of experience, you will be issued a five-year license by the Department once your application is approved. If you are not a licensed, experienced teacher, you will be issued a two-year provisional license that may include a mandatory induction period.
Do I need a graduate degree to become a counselor in Ohio?
Most counseling careers in Ohio require a master’s degree or higher in a counseling-related field. One exception is the Ohio chemical dependency license. You can apply to become an LCDC II with an associate’s degree in behavioral science or nursing or a bachelor’s degree in any subject. You can also apply to become an LCDC III with a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science or nursing. These levels of licensure enable you to work in a counseling field but allow for fewer responsibilities compared to LCDC IV licensure.
What types of counseling jobs are available in Ohio?
Currently, most counseling professionals in Ohio are employed as substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (11,600) and educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors (11,390).1,3 Through 2030, the largest numbers of new jobs are projected for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (1,920) and educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (960).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, 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