Oklahoma Counseling License Requirements
As of May 2021, over 9,480 counselors work in the state in a range of subspecialties.1-5 The path to an Oklahoma counseling license can take many years and requires a significant commitment to upgrading your skills and experience. 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. If you already hold a license in another state and are looking to practice in Oklahoma, visit our Counseling License Reciprocity Guide.
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 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 counseling 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 (the Board) is responsible for mental health counseling and marriage and family therapy licenses; the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) issues licenses for school counselors; and the Oklahoma State Board of Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors (the Board) 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 (the Board) 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 your application online along with official graduate transcripts, three Document of Recommendation Forms, an Internship/Practicum Documentation Form, and completed criminal background check. The application fee is $145 as of December 2022.
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 December 2022.
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 accruing 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. Once approved, you will receive a wallet-sized license card.
LPC Licensure by Endorsement in Oklahoma
Oklahoma accepts licensure applications by endorsement from other states on a case-by-case basis. The application is available online and costs $145 to apply (as of December 2022). 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 License 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 December 2022. 20 hours of continuing education per year are for renewals and must include three hours of face-to-face ethics training annually. Continuing education 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. A guide of continuing education requirements can be found on the Board’s website.
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 (the Board) 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 LMFT Academic Worksheet has more information about the educational requirements. 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 online for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) candidacy along with official graduate transcripts, three Document of Recommendation Forms, Internship/Practicum Documentation Form, completed criminal background check, Supervision Agreement Form, and On-Site Supervisor Verification Form.
- Take and pass the Marital and Family Therapy (MFT) National Examination from the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) and the Oklahoma LMFT Examination.
- Earn two years of supervised experience, including a minimum of 1,000 hours of direct client contact and 150 hours of face-to-face supervision.
- 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 (OSDE) Office of Teacher Certification certifies school counselors and offers a traditional and alternative path for school counseling candidates. The traditional path requires a master’s degree in school counseling, while the alternative path requires a master’s degree in a school counseling-related field, or a master’s degree and two years of counseling-related work experience in addition to one of the following: a minimum of 30 counseling-related graduate credit hours, a minimum of 15 counseling-related graduate credit hours plus one year of counseling-related work experience, or three years or more of counseling-related work experience. They must also complete two college credit courses in the components of a comprehensive school counseling program, including but not limited to, data-informed decision making, closing achievement, and opportunity gaps, school counseling ethical standards, and improving student achievement, attendance, and discipline or approved equivalents within three years of certification. The paper application is available online and it costs $50 to apply (as of December 2022). 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 Oklahoma Subject Area Test (OSAT) in School Counseling or the Praxis School Counselor exam in addition to the Praxis Performance Assessment for Teachers.
- Submit your application along with a university recommendation for certification 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 (the Board) issues two main types of substance abuse counseling credentials: Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC), and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC). Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor/Mental Health (LADC/MH). CADCs must have a bachelor’s degree in behavioral health or counseling and complete a 300-hour practicum that covers each of the 12 core functions, while LADCs must have a master’s degree in alcohol and substance abuse counseling or a related field and complete a 300-hour practicum.
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. LADCs can also treat co-occurring disorders (CODs) within their scope of practice. CADCs in good standing may become certified in co-occurring disorders (COD) by meeting additional qualifications. LADCs in good standing can upgrade their license with a mental health designation (LADC/MH), widening their scope of practice to be able to diagnose, assess, and treat mental health disorders. They can qualify for the MH designation by additional 15 hours of master’s-level substance abuse coursework; have a master’s degree that meets the requirements for licensure as a professional counselor, clinical social worker, marital and family therapist, or behavioral practitioner; or have a valid co-occurring disorders certification. The application fee for any credential is $175 as of December 2022. To earn a CADC or LADC credential, follow these steps:
- Register as a CADC or LADC candidate.
- Pass the required International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) exam (CADCs: Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) exam; LADCs: Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC) exam).
- Earn supervised experience (CADC: 4,000 hours including at least 2,000 hours providing alcohol and drug counseling services; LADC: 2,000 hours of work experience,1,000 of which must consist of direct client contact providing behavioral health services and includes at least 500 hours of alcohol and drug counseling services).
- Submit your application to become a CADC, LADC and, if desired, the LADC/MH and receive your credential.
Optional Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Oklahoma
In addition to the credentials listed above, the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) offers several optional credentials for substance abuse professionals who wish to further their training and specialize their skill set. While these credentials are not necessary to practice substance abuse counseling in Oklahoma, they may allow current substance abuse counselors to expand their roles and provide opportunities to individuals interested in working in support positions.
- Behavioral Health Case Manager (CM I or CM II)
- Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist (PRSS)
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
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are over 9,480 counselors working in the major counseling areas in Oklahoma, with most employed as educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (3,770) and substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (3,640), as of May 2021.1-5 The average annual salary for Oklahoma counselors ranges from $33,550 for rehabilitation counselors to $58,210 for marriage and family therapists.2,4
According to Projections Central, Oklahoma is projected to experience job growth ranging from 3.9% for rehabilitation counselors to 24.9% for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors through 2030, although data is not available for all counseling types.6 The greatest number of new jobs is projected for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (1,030), followed by educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (350); marriage and family therapists (100); and rehabilitation counselors (70).6 Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors have projected growth rates above the national average for this period (24.9% compared to 22.9% nationally).6
|Occupation||Number Employed1-5||Average Annual Salary1-5|
|Counselors, All Other||N.Av.||$34,450|
|Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors||3,770||$51,990|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||830||$58,210|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||3,640||$50,270|
Counseling Associations in Oklahoma
- 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 Association for Addiction Professionals (OKAAP): An Oklahoma affiliate of the National Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) that empowers addiction focused professionals through education, advocacy, knowledge, standards of practice, ethics, professional development and research.
- 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 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 (the Board) requires LPC candidates to complete a graduate degree in counseling or a closely related field. The degree must comprise at least 60 credits, including three credits in each of the following: 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 requirements for licensure renewal?
The Board has strict rules for continuing education and 20 hours must be completed each year, including three hours of face-to-face, pre-approved ethics training. All continuing education activities must meet specific criteria, including the content, intended audience, context, and 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 3,000 hours of supervised experience on a full-time basis, but 20 hours is considered 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, these hours should count 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 for 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, Projections Central reports average annual openings between 80 for marriage and family therapists to 530 for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors through 2030.6 This is due to a 13.5% projected growth rate for marriage and family therapists during that time and a 24.9% growth rate for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors.6 An average of 180 rehabilitation counselor positions and 390 educational, guidance, school, and vocational counseling positions are projected to be available each year through 2030.6
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