Oklahoma Counseling License Requirements
Pursuing a career in counseling is a long journey with many steps. The path to an Oklahoma counseling license can take many years and requires a significant commitment to upgrading your skills and experience. Currently, 9,440 counselors work in the state in a range of subspecialties.1-5 This guide summarizes the path to the major types of licensure, such as Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), and shares details about the job outlook for those seeking counseling licensure in Oklahoma in the coming years.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Counselor in Oklahoma
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensing Process
- Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Oklahoma
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
- School Counselor
- Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC)
- Other Professional Counseling Careers
- Oklahoma Counseling Career and Salary Information
- Counseling Associations in Oklahoma
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Become a Counselor in Oklahoma
Licensure is mandatory for Oklahoma counselors practicing in the major areas of counseling. Some common requirements to earn counseling licensure include a graduate degree in a related field, supervised work experience, and successful exam scores. Several schools in Oklahoma offer counseling programs specifically designed for the state’s requirements, though a degree completed out of state may also qualify.
1. Find an area of counseling you are passionate about.
Before beginning your counseling licensure journey, you should decide which area of counseling appeals to you most as the precise steps to licensure vary for each type of counseling license. Knowing which type of counseling you want to pursue ahead of time will help you save time and money by meeting licensure requirements as soon as possible.
2. Complete the necessary education for your counseling practice area.
A master’s degree is required for most types of counselor’s licenses in Oklahoma. Professional mental health counselors must have a master’s degree in counseling with a practicum or internship; marriage and family therapists must have a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or a related field; and traditional school counselor applicants must have a master’s degree in school counseling. Substance abuse counselors must have a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in behavioral science or counseling depending on the level of certification or licensure sought.
3. Get licensed to practice counseling in Oklahoma.
After completing your degree, you will be ready to begin the licensure process to become a professional counselor. The Oklahoma State Board of Behavioral Health is responsible for mental health counselor and marriage and family therapy licenses; the Oklahoma State Department of Education issues licenses for school counselors; and the Oklahoma State Board of Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors issues certifications and licenses for substance abuse counselors. Continue reading below for more details on Oklahoma counseling licensure.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensing Process
The Oklahoma State Board of Behavioral Health issues licenses for Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) in Oklahoma who provide counseling, assessment, and referral services related to emotional, mental, and behavioral disorders. LPCs are also able to diagnose and treat mental health disorders. You can read more about what professional counselors do on our mental health counselor career guide. In Oklahoma, the Board requires candidates to have a 60-credit master’s degree in counseling with specific coursework in core areas and complete at least 300 hours of practicum or internship. A list of pre-approved programs is provided but other degrees are accepted if they meet the Board’s requirements.
1. Apply for LPC candidacy and permission to test.
The Board requires all candidates to submit fingerprints for a background check completed by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. Fingerprints can be taken in person at many Certifix Livescan locations across the state or by local law enforcement offices. You must submit the fingerprints with your application, including the background check form found in the application packet. Send your application packet to the Board and have your post-secondary institution send official transcripts. The Board only accepts unopened transcripts with the institutional seal across the flap. You will also need to have your practicum or internship supervisor verify your experience as part of the application. The application fee is $145 as of September 2019.
2. Pass the Oklahoma Legal and Ethical Responsibilities Exam (OLERE).
The Oklahoma Legal and Ethical Responsibilities Exam (OLERE) tests your knowledge of relevant Oklahoma rules and regulations for professional practice. The exam lasts one hour and you must earn at least 80% to pass. If you are unsuccessful, you must wait at least three days before attempting again. Exams are held at several sites in the state. You must bring a photo ID and your letter of approval from the Board to take the exam. The exam fee is $45 as of September 2019.
3. Pass the National Counselor Examination (NCE).
The National Counselor Exam (NCE) is a multiple-choice test administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). It is designed to assess your knowledge of counseling theories and methods and is mandatory for all LPC applicants. A handbook is available online to help you prepare. You must pass this exam within two years of applying or else your application will expire.
4. Accrue supervised experience.
Only after passing both exams, submitting a supervision agreement, and receiving permission from the Board can you be considered an LPC candidate and begin to accrue supervised experience. You must complete 3,000 hours of work experience, including at least 350 hours of direct client contact per 1,000 hours accrued and 45 minutes of supervision per 20 hours of time accrued. Supervisors must have an active LPC license with at least two years of experience. They must also complete an approved supervisor training course, pass the OLERE, and agree to be available to the trainee on an “on call” basis throughout the training period. Further information about supervisor qualifications and the application form can be found on the Board website.
5. Receive your LPC license.
Once you have met all the requirements for licensure and submitted your documentation to the Board, your application will be reviewed. You will receive a wallet-sized license card and you can also request duplicate copies online.
Professional Counselor Licensure by Endorsement in Oklahoma
Oklahoma accepts licensure applications by endorsement from other states on a case-by-case basis. The application packet is available online and it costs $145 to apply (as of September 2019). To be eligible, you must have your home state complete a verification form as part of your application package and pass the fingerprint and background check. If you do not have at least five years of licensed counseling experience, you may be subject to a more thorough academic review as part of the process.
Counselor Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information
The Board has initial, interim, and annual renewal stages for the LPC license. The first renewal period is the initial renewal period; the license is valid for two years until the last day of the month it was issued. The second renewal period is the interim period; the license is valid until June 30. The fees for these licenses vary as they will be prorated from the time of application. After these two periods, the license must be renewed annually by June 30 with a renewal fee of $80 as of September 2019. Continuing education (CE) is mandatory for renewals and is 20 hours per year, including three hours of face-to-face ethics training each year. CE requirements for the initial and interim periods are prorated based on when your license is approved. You must submit the CE roster each time you submit a renewal application. CE for ethics, home study, or technology assisted learning must be pre-approved by the Board.
Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Oklahoma
Other types of counseling have different licensure processes in Oklahoma and may have different steps compared to the LPC license. For more information about other major counseling licenses in the state, such as licensed marriage and family therapists, school counselors, and substance abuse counselors, continue reading below.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
The Oklahoma State Board of Behavioral Health oversees licenses for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs). LMFT applicants must have a master’s degree from a regionally-accredited institution in either marriage and family therapy or a related field with coursework in five core areas. The program must also include a 300-hour practicum or internship component. The application packet has more information about the requirements and the application process. In Oklahoma, LMFTs assist individuals, couples, and families with emotional, mental, behavioral, and relational issues using adapted marriage and family systems theories and counseling techniques. Follow these steps to earn an LMFT license:
- Submit an application for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) candidacy, complete a background check, and request permission to test.
- Pass the Oklahoma LMFT exam and the national licensing exam in marital and family therapy.
- Earn supervised experience.
- Request and receive your LMFT license.
To learn more about licensed marriage and family therapist careers, visit our LMFT career guide.
The Oklahoma State Department of Education sets the licensure guidelines for school counselors, which is considered an advanced certification. Therefore, candidates must have a teaching license to be eligible for the traditional certification pathway or they must complete one of the many alternative or non-traditional pathways to teacher certification before proceeding with the school counselor application. The paper application is available online and it costs $50 to apply (as of September 2019). Traditional candidates must also have a master’s degree. If the master’s degree is not in school counseling, the applicant must complete an approved certificate program in school counseling as well. School counselors in Oklahoma develop and implement guidance and counseling programs to address student development, achievement, and environment. Follow these steps to earn your certification:
- Complete state and federal background checks.
- Pass the CEOE school counselor exam.
- Request and receive your school counselor certificate.
To learn more about school counselor jobs, read our school counseling career guide.
Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC)
The Oklahoma State Board of Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors issues three types of substance abuse counseling credentials: Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC), Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor/Mental Health (LADC/MH). CADCs must have a bachelor’s degree in behavioral health or counseling, while LADCs must have a master’s degree in alcohol and substance abuse counseling or a related field and LADC/MH must meet additional educational requirements related to clinical mental health and substance abuse training. The application fee for any credential is $175 as of September 2019. Oklahoma substance abuse counselors seek to prevent, assess, and treat alcohol and drug dependency problems, develop treatment plans, and provide a variety of counseling services to achieve these goals. LADC/MHs are also able to diagnose, assess, and treat mental health disorders. To earn a CADC, LADC, or LADC/MH credential, follow these steps:
- Register as a CADC, LADC or LADC/MH trainee.
- Pass the required IC&RC exam (the Alcohol and Drug Counselor exam for CADCs, or the Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor exam for LADCs and LADC/MHs).
- Earn supervised experience.
- Request and receive your CADC, LADC, or LADC/MH credential.
Other Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Oklahoma
- Associate Prevention Specialist (APS)
- Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist (PRSS)
- Criminal Justice Addictions Professional (CCJP)
- Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS)
Discover more about substance abuse counseling jobs on our substance abuse counseling career guide.
Other Professional Counseling Careers
Professional counselors may also want to explore other related careers that utilize their skills, knowledge, and interests. Some examples of jobs that will make the most of your counseling degree and experience include:
- Rehabilitation Counselor
- Gambling Counselor
- Genetic Counselor
- Youth Counselor
- Guidance Counselor
- Pastoral Counselor
- Recreational Therapist
Oklahoma Counseling Career and Salary Information
There are 9,440 counselors working in the major counseling areas in Oklahoma, with most employed as educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (3,650) and substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (3,380).1-5 The average annual salary for Oklahoma counselors ranges from $26,150 for rehabilitation counselors to $54,850 for marriage and family therapists.4,2 Marriage and family therapists and substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earn slightly above the national averages ($54,850 compared to $54,150 and $48,670 compared to $47,920 respectively).2,1
Oklahoma is projected to experience job growth ranging from 9.8% for educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors to 27.3% for marriage and family therapists through 2026, although data is not available for all counseling types.6 The greatest number of new jobs is projected for educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (400), followed by rehabilitation counselors (300), substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors (240), and marriage and family therapists (150).6 Both marriage and family therapists and rehabilitation counselors have projected growth rates above the national average for this period (27.3% compared to 23.4% and 13.0% compared to 12.7% nationally).6
|Occupation||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Counselors, All Other||70||$44,990|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||3,650||$44,000|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||440||$54,850|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||3,380||$48,670|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1-5
Counseling Associations in Oklahoma
- Oklahoma Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (OKAMFT): A branch of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), this association promotes the benefits of marriage and family counseling to the public, connects LMFTs through events and training, and provides resources for aspiring LMFTs.
- Oklahoma Counseling Association (OCA): An organization for all types of counselors, counseling supervisors, and students to promote the profession and engage with like minded professionals.
- Oklahoma School Counselor Association (OSCA): A professional organization that holds an annual conference each fall, summer training opportunities, and a recognition program for outstanding school counselors in Oklahoma.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the coursework requirements for an Oklahoma counseling license?
The Oklahoma Board of Behavioral Health requires LPC candidates to complete a graduate degree in counseling or a closely related field. The degree must be comprised of at least 60 credits, including three credits in each of human development; abnormal human behavior; assessment techniques; counseling methods; ethics; and research. At least 300 hours of practicum or internship and specific electives are also required as part of the degree requirements. More information about coursework requirements can be found on the Board website.
What are the continuing education (CE) requirements for licensure renewal?
The Board has strict rules for CE and 20 hours must be completed each year, including three hours of face-to-face, pre approved ethics training. All CE activities must meet specific criteria, including the content, intended audience, context, and the qualifications of the presenter. Details can be found on the Board website. Home-based and technology-assisted CE activities will only be counted if they are pre-approved by the Board. The Board provides a list of pre-approved workshops and home-based and technology-assisted activities.
Does my clinical supervised experience need to be completed on a full-time basis?
The Board requires all LPC trainees to complete the required 3,000 hours of supervised experience on a full-time basis, but it considers 20 hours or more per week to be full-time. You must also receive at least 45 minutes of supervision per 20 hours of work experience. As long as you complete at least 20 hours per week and receive the required supervision, you should be able to count these hours towards your supervised requirements. However, all required hours must be completed within 60 months of application for licensure.
Can I receive credit for completing a doctoral degree or studies beyond the required minimum?
The Board allows candidates who have completed 30 credits of relevant graduate study beyond the required 60-credit master’s degree, whether at the master’s or doctoral level, to be exempt from 1,000 hours of the work experience requirement. This exemption can only be used to a maximum of 2,000 hours of work experience as all candidates must complete at least 1,000 hours of supervised work experience for licensure.
How many annual openings will there be for Oklahoma counselors in the coming years?
While data is not available for all counseling categories, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports average annual openings between 80 for marriage and family therapists to 480 for educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors through 2026.6 This is due to a 27.3% projected growth rate for marriage and family therapists during that time and a 9.8% growth rate for educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors.6 An average of 280 rehabilitation counselor positions are projected to open each year and 170 substance abuse and behavioral disorder counseling positions each year through 2026.6
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