Oregon Counseling License Requirements
Oregon is home to nearly 10,000 counselors working in five primary practice areas.1-5 To become a professional counselor in the state, you will need to pursue a graduate degree in counseling, gain one to three years of experience (depending on the license sought), and take the required licensing exams. Below, we detail the process to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and as well as the processes for other professional counseling licenses in the state. You can also find career and salary information, a list of professional organizations in the state, and more.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Counselor in Oregon
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensing Process
- Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Oregon
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
- School Counselor
- Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor (CADC)
- Other Professional Counseling Careers
- Oregon Counseling Career and Salary Information
- Counseling Associations in Oregon
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Become a Counselor in Oregon
Most professional counseling licenses in Oregon require a master’s degree in a related area of counseling as well as other requirements. Many counseling programs in Oregon are available that meet the education requirement. A program completed in another state may also satisfy requirements. While the process to attain each license type varies, you will likely have to gain supervised experience and take a national exam as part of the application process.
1. Decide which area of counseling to pursue.
A good first step to getting your counseling license is to narrow down the type of counseling you want to focus on. Since each license type requires a different series of steps, it will be important to have your end career in sight so that you ensure you follow the right steps.
2. Earn the degree(s) required for your counseling practice area.
In general, you will need to earn a degree specific to the type of counseling you want to pursue. Counselors in Oregon typically need a master’s degree, and typically, professional mental health counselors will need a master’s in mental health counseling, marriage and family therapists will need a master’s in marriage and family therapy, and school counselors will need a master’s in school counseling. Substance abuse counselors in Oregon do not necessarily need a degree, but those with a bachelor’s or master’s degree are eligible for a higher-level license. Coursework in alcohol and drug education is required, however, for all levels.
3. Get licensed to practice counseling in Oregon.
After you have earned your education, you will begin the licensure process to be able to work as a professional counselor. The Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists regulates the licensure of LPCs and MFTs; the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC) regulates the licensure of School Counselors, and the Mental Health & Addiction Certification Board of Oregon regulates the licensure of Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors (CADCs).
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensing Process
In Oregon, the Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists oversees the licensure of professional counselors. Professional counselors in Oregon are permitted to assess, diagnose, and treat mental and behavioral disorders to individuals, couples, groups, children, organizations, and families. If you would like to know more about what professional counselors do, see our mental health counselor career guide. LPCs in Oregon must hold a master’s or doctorate degree from a Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)-accredited program or a regionally accredited or foreign program that meets certain course requirements. Additional requirements for the degree can be found on the Board’s website.
1. Apply for the Registered Associate credential and accrue supervised clinical experience.
Before you are qualified to become an LPC in Oregon, you will have to accumulate at least three years (36 months) of supervised clinical experience as a Registered Associate. You will need to submit an supervised clinical experience plan documenting how you plan to accumulate these hours. A total of 2,400 supervised direct client contact hours are required, and up to 400 client contact hours may be attained as part of your degree program.
2. Submit your Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) application.
The next step to becoming an LPC in Oregon is to complete an application where you will document the graduate program you completed, answer personal background questions, and send a fee of $216.25 (as of September 2019).
3. Request permission to take and pass the required exams.
Once the Board has approved your application, they will notify you and you will be able to submit your request via email to take the national and state exams. The National Counselor Examination (NCE), National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE), or the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Examination (CRC) national exams will qualify you to become an LPC in Oregon. You must also take the Oregon Law and Rules Examination after you have passed the national exam. The state exam is a pass/fail exam and has 33 true or false, multiple-choice, and fill-in-the-blank questions.
4. Receive your Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) license.
Once the Board has approved your application, you will receive your license to be an LPC in Oregon.
Professional Counselor Licensure by Reciprocity in Oregon
To apply for an LPC license by reciprocity, you must hold a current license as an LPC or a closely-related license in another jurisdiction. In your application, you will document that your current license is equivalent to Oregon’s standards. If the Board accepts your license by reciprocity request, they will accept your education and previous work experience so that you don’t have to start over. If you have held a license for five or more years, you may be able to substitute some of that time for the education and experience requirements.
Counselor Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information
LPC licenses must be renewed on an annual basis, due by the last day of your birth month. The Board will send you a courtesy email reminder explaining the renewal process, but it is the licensee’s responsibility to ensure renewal is done on time. Continuing education of 40 hours during every 24-month period is required to renew your license, six hours of which must be in ethics training and four of which must be in cultural competency. You can renew your license on the Board’s website. The fee is $167 as of September 2019.
Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Oregon
In addition to the LPC license, you may be interested in other counseling careers. Oregon also offers licensure in marriage and family therapy, school counseling, and substance abuse counseling, as well as other subfields.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
The process to become licensed as a marriage and family therapist in Oregon is much like that of an LPC. The Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists also regulates LMFTs in the state and requires that applicants have a graduate degree from a Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE)-approved program or regionally accredited or foreign program that meets certain requirements. LMFTs in the state are permitted to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, resolve intrapersonal and interpersonal conflict, and strengthen human relationships and family life. Once you have your master’s or doctorate degree, you will:
- Take one of the required LMFT competency exams.
- Gain at least three years of supervised experience.
- Complete the LMFT application and receive your LMFT license.
For more information about becoming an LMFT, see our LMFT career guide.
In Oregon, you can apply for school counselor licensure from the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC). To become a school counselor, you must hold a Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC)-approved master’s degree in counseling, education, or a related field and have completed a school counselor preparation program (if your master’s degree was not in school counseling). Then you will:
- Apply for a Preliminary School Counselor License.
- Complete the necessary school counseling experience requirements.
- Take the required student and civil rights exam.
- Apply online to receive your Professional School Counselor License.
If you would like to learn more about school counseling, please visit our school counselor career guide.
Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor (CADC)
Oregon offers three certification options for those interested in substance abuse counseling through the Mental Health & Addiction Certification Board of Oregon. Level One Certified Alcohol Drug Counselors (CADC I) do not need to have a degree, but should have 150 drug and alcohol-related education hours, 1,000 supervised experience hours, and passing National Certified Addiction Counselor-Level I (NCAC I) exam scores. CADC IIs must have a bachelor’s degree (or associate degree with specialized training) with a minimum of 300 hours in alcohol and drug education, plus 4,000 supervised experience hours and passing scores on the NCAC II exam. CADC IIIs must have a master’s degree (including 300 hours in alcohol and drug education), 6,000 supervised experience hours, and pass both the MAC national certification exam and the written jurisprudence ethics exam. To become a substance abuse counselor you will:
- Complete the required number of hours of supervised experience.
- Submit a letter verifying your sobriety, if you are recovering.
- Submit a Code of Conduct.
- Submit an application for your desired level of certification.
- Pass the required exam(s).
- Receive your CADC license.
Other Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Oregon
- Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS)
- Certified Recovery Mentor (CRM)
- Peer Recovery Counselor (PRC)
For more on a career in substance abuse counseling, see our substance abuse counselor career guide.
Other Professional Counseling Careers
In addition to the professional license types mentioned on this page, you may be interested in these other counseling careers below.
- Rehabilitation Counselor
- Gambling Counselor
- Genetic Counselor
- Youth Counselor
- Guidance Counselor
- Pastoral Counselor
- Recreational Therapist
Oregon Counseling Career and Salary Information
The Eugene metropolitan area is the fourth-highest paying metropolitan area for marriage and family therapists, at $78,150 per year.2 Coastal Oregon is the second-highest paying nonmetropolitan area for rehabilitation counselors nationally, at $57,380 per year.4 The Corvallis metropolitan area has the sixth-highest concentration of jobs for educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors and Grants Pass has the fifth-highest concentration of jobs for substance abuse, behavioral, and mental health counselors.3,5
In terms of job outlook, the future for Oregon counselors looks bright, if not as high as national projections. The practice area projected to see the most growth is marriage and family therapy, with a 20.5% increase in jobs expected through 2026 (still a bit slower than the national average of 23.4%).6 The area of mental health counseling should see the highest increase of new jobs with 530 through 2026, leading to 17.5% growth overall.6 The only practice area that exceeds national projections in Oregon is rehabilitation counseling, which is expected to grow by 15.4% in Oregon versus 12.7% nationally, though educational, guidance, school, and vocational counseling is close, with a 12.2% increase expected in Oregon versus 12.6% nationally.6
|Occupation||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Counselors, All Other||160||$57,120|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||2,880||$62,250|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||380||$58,050|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||4,880||$59,390|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1-5
Counseling Associations in Oregon
- Oregon Counseling Association (ORCA): Empowering members to do their best healing work through networking, CE events, and lobbying for the profession.
- Coalition of Oregon Professional Associations for Counseling and Therapy (COPACT): Consists of two professional organizations: the Oregon Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (OAMFT) and the Oregon Counseling Association (ORCA), operating as the political arm for both.
- Oregon Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (OAMFT): Advancing the practice of MFTs through advocacy, education, and networking opportunities.
- Oregon School Counselor Association (OSCA): Provides grants and scholarship opportunities for students and an online member directory.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a degree to become a mental health counselor in Oregon?
Yes, mental health counselors in Oregon, also known as licensed professional counselors, need to have a graduate (master’s or doctoral) degree with significant coursework requirements in the field.
Can I practice counseling in Oregon without a degree?
Most types of counseling licensure require a master’s degree, including LPC, LMFT, and school counseling. You can practice substance abuse counseling with a high school diploma only, as long as you have taken at least 150 hours of drug and alcohol counseling-related coursework. The higher two levels of substance abuse counseling (CADC II and CADC III) require bachelor’s and master’s degrees respectively.
How much do counselors in Oregon get paid?
Pay for Oregon counselors varies by many factors including geographic location, years of experience, and type of counseling practiced. That said, the average salary for the five primary practice areas recognized by the BLS in Oregon is $56,182.1-5
Do I have to be licensed to be a counselor in Oregon?
It depends on the practice area, but in general, yes, you do have to be licensed in Oregon to practice counseling. The counseling types discussed on this page, LPCs, LMFTs, school counselors, and CADCs, must be licensed before they can practice.
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.org/Projections/LongTerm