Oregon Counseling License Requirements
Oregon is home to over 14,000 counselors working in five primary practice areas (mental health counseling, marital and family therapy, school counseling, addiction counseling, and rehabilitation counseling.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) 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. If you already hold a license in another state and are looking to practice in Oregon, visit our Counseling License Reciprocity Guide.
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 (the Board) regulates the licensure of LPCs and Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs); the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC) regulates the licensure of School Counselors, and the Mental Health & Addiction Certification Board of Oregon (MHACBO) 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 (the Board) 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 is in a mental health field and/or meets certain course requirements. Additional requirements for the degree can be found on the Board’s website.
1. Apply for the Registered Associate credential.
Before you are qualified to become an LPC in Oregon, you will have to register as a Registered Associate in order to gain the required experience. You will need to submit an application via the portal, along with a supervised clinical experience plan documenting how you plan to accumulate these hours and a professional disclosure statement.
2. Accrue supervised clinical experience.
After you have Registered Associate status, you will need to earn at least three years (36 months) of supervised clinical experience. A minimum of 2,400 supervised direct client contact hours are required, and up to one year (12 months) of supervised experience and 400 of these direct client contact hours may be attained as part of your degree program. A supervisor evaluation and hours report must be submitted every six months.
3. Submit a promotion application.
Once you have met the supervised experience requirements, you will be notified with instructions to submit your promotion application to upgrade your associate license to full licensure and any additional requirements.
4. Request to take and pass required exams.
Once your application has been approved, you may submit a request to take one of the required national exams. The National Counselor Examination (NCE), National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE), or the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Examination (CRC) national exams are acceptable. 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.
5. Receive your LPC license.
Once the Board has approved your application, you will receive your license to be an LPC in Oregon.
LPC 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 you have held a license for five or more years, you may be able to substitute this experience for 1,000 of the required supervised experience hours.
Counselor License 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, four of which must be in cultural competency, and two of which must be in suicide risk assessment, treatment, and management. You can renew your license in the licensee portal. The fee is $165 as of December 2022.
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 (the Board) 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:
- Register as a marriage and family therapist associate.
- Gain 36 months of supervised experience, including 2,400 hours of direct client contact. 12 months and 400 direct client contact hours completed as part of your graduate program may be counted towards this requirement.
- Request to take the Marital and Family Therapy (MFT) National Examination from the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) or the State of California Board of Behavioral Sciences’ Marriage and Family Therapist Written Clinical Examination. You must also pass the Oregon Laws and Rules exam.
- Upon completion of the supervised experience and exam requirements, complete the promotion application sent by the Board to become fully licensed as an LMFT.
For more information about becoming an LMFT, see our LMFT career guide.
In Oregon, school counselor licensure is issued by the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC). School counselors work with students, their families, and other school faculty and staff to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment and help students meet personal and academic goals. There are two tiers of licensure: Preliminary School Counselor and Professional School Counselor. The preliminary tier requires a master’s degree in counseling, education, or related behavioral sciences, and the completion of a school counselor preparation program (if your master’s degree was not in school counseling). The professional tier requires a master’s degree in behavioral sciences (or their derivative therapeutic professions) as well as a doctorate degree in educational, vocational, or clinical counseling; or in clinical or counseling psychology. Then you will:
- Apply for a Preliminary School Counselor License.
- Complete five years of school counseling experience on at least a half-time basis.
- Complete any additional education requirements, if desired.
- Apply 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 and Drug Counselor (CADC)
Oregon offers three levels of certification for those interested in substance abuse counseling through the Mental Health & Addiction Certification Board of Oregon (MHACBO). Associate-level Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors (CADC I) are not required to have a degree. Baccalaureate-level CADC IIs must have a bachelor’s degree (or associate degree with specialized training). Graduate-level CADC IIIs must have a master’s degree in substance abuse/addiction counseling or a related subject (including 300 hours in alcohol and drug education). To become a substance abuse counselor you will:
- Submit an application for your desired level of certification.
- Sign the Code of Conduct.
- Complete drug and alcohol education (150 hours for CADC I; 300 hours for CADC II and III) and supervised experience hours (1,000 for CADC I; 4,000 for CADC II; 6,000 for CADC III).
- Pass the required exams (National Certified Addiction Counselor-Level I (NCAC I) for CADC I; NCAC II for CADC II; MAC for CADC III). For CADC II and CADC III, the written Jurisprudence Ethics exam is also required.
- Receive your CADC license.
Optional Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Oregon
In addition to the CADC credentials above, MHACBO offers three other substance abuse-related credentials that, while not required to be a substance abuse counselor in the state, will allow you to further demonstrate your specialized areas of experience and knowledge. These certifications are also often stand-alone credentials sought by those interested in the field but who do not desire (or have the necessary qualifications) to become CADCs.
- Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS)
- Certified Recovery Mentor (CRM)
- Certified Recovery Mentor II (CRM II)
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 the other counseling careers below.
- Rehabilitation Counselor
- Gambling Counselor
- Genetic Counselor
- Youth Counselor
- Guidance Counselor
- Pastoral Counselor
- Recreational Therapist
Oregon Counseling Career and Salary Information
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2021, the average salaries of counselors in the state ranged from $52,180 (rehabilitation counselors) to $66,050 (educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors. Oregon has the fifth-highest employment level of rehabilitation counselors and the highest concentration of rehabilitation counselors of any state.4 Corvallis has the sixth highest concentration of educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors of any metropolitan area.3
In terms of job outlook, the future for Oregon counselors looks bright, exceeding national averages for most practice areas. The practice area projected to see the most growth is substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health, with a 26.8% increase in jobs expected through 2030, resulting in 1,680 new positions.6 The area of marriage and family therapy should see a 25.7% increase in jobs.6 Rehabilitation counselor roles are expected to grow by 16.5% and educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselor roles by 13.9%.6
|Occupation||Number Employed1-5||Average Annual Salary1-5|
|Counselors, All Other||N.Av.||$63,920|
|Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors||2,660||$66,050|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||340||$59,300|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||6,610||$59,910|
Counseling Associations in Oregon
- 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 Association of Addiction Professionals (ORAAP): State affiliate of the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC), offering education, professional recognition, and resources for substance abuse counselors.
- Oregon Counseling Association (ORCA): Empowering members to do their best healing work through networking, CE events, and lobbying for the profession.
- 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 annual salary for the five primary practice areas recognized by the BLS in Oregon is $60,272.1-5
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, 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