Texas Counseling License Requirements
As of May 2021, 50,800 individuals are employed across a range of counseling careers in the Lone Star state with promising projected job growth through 2030, particularly for those interested in school counseling.1-6 If you are interested in pursuing a career as a professional counselor in Texas, there are several types of licensure available depending on your interests. The counseling licensure process in Texas typically includes a probationary internship stage followed by full licensure, as with the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) designation. Many opportunities are open to those capable of completing these rigorous requirements. Keep reading to learn more about how to earn a Texas counseling license.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Counselor in Texas
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensing Process
- Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Texas
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
- School Counselor
- Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC)
- Other Professional Counseling Careers
- Texas Counseling Career and Salary Information
- Counseling Associations in Texas
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Become a Counselor in Texas
In Texas, professional counselors are required to be licensed in order to practice. To start your career as a counselor, you must fulfill academic requirements, including graduate-level study and a supervised practicum. There are a wide variety of Texas counseling schools from which to choose in order to meet this requirement. In most cases, you will then need to apply for a temporary or probationary license before you are able to complete the final requirements for full licensure. If you already hold a license in another state and are looking to practice in Texas, visit our Counseling License Reciprocity Guide.
1. Decide which area of counseling to pursue.
Counseling is a broad field and can involve working with different individuals, families, or groups. First, you should decide what populations or issues you would like to work with as this can impact the education and training you will need to earn licensure.
2. Earn the degree(s) required for your counseling practice area.
Each type of licensure has different requirements, so it is important to research the requirements beforehand. Most pathways to professional counseling licensure in Texas require at least a master’s degree. If you are seeking to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), you must complete an advanced degree in a counseling-related field, whereas if you are a prospective school counselor, you must complete a master’s degree approved by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Licensure as a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC) only requires an associate’s degree, although the clinical internship requirements are longer for this type of licensure and a bachelor’s or master’s degree can help reduce these requirements.
3. Get licensed to practice counseling in Texas.
When you are close to completing the necessary education, you can apply to take any required exams and send your file for licensure review. The Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors oversees LPC licensure, while the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists (the Board) oversees the licensure of LMFTs.The Texas Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for LCDC licensure, and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) is responsible for certifying school counselors. With the exception of school counselor certification, you will need to complete further clinical training with approved supervision before you can finally submit your completed application for full counselor licensure in Texas.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensing Process
The Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors (the Board), which is part of the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council, oversees the licensure process of professional counselors. In Texas, Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) are trained to assess individuals, develop treatment plans, provide counseling, and consult or make referrals on a variety of mental health and therapeutic issues. To learn more about a career in professional counseling, read our mental health counselor career guide. To become a professional counselor in Texas, you must complete either a counseling-related master’s degree or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). The degree must comprise at least 60 credit hours of study and cover a specific range of topics, including normal and abnormal human behavior, assessment, and counseling theory. You must also complete at least 300 hours of supervised practicum with individuals or families with a minimum of 100 direct contact hours. In Texas, to become an LPC, you should complete the following steps:
1. Pass the required exams.
You must pass either the National Counselor Exam (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental
Health Counselor Exam (NCMHCE) as well as the Texas Jurisprudence Exam before applying for licensure. Both the NCE and the NCMHCE are multiple-choice tests administered across the country to assess counseling skills and knowledge. Study resources are available online through the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) for both exams, including the NCE Handbook.
The Texas Jurisprudence Exam tests your knowledge of ethical and legal issues related to counseling and cannot be taken more than six months prior to submitting your application for licensure.
2. Complete the required security check.
A self-query report from the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) is required. This report identifies any disciplinary actions taken against the applicant. Either a certified report sent by email or a sealed mailed copy is accepted.
3. Submit an application as a Licensed Professional Counselor-Associate(LPC-Associate).
Temporary licensure will enable you to complete the final training necessary to become a competent professional in your chosen field. You will be able to apply for LPC-Associate status once your graduate degree is complete and you have a signed supervisory agreement with an approved supervisor. The Board provides a checklist to ensure your application is complete. Applications must be completed through the online licensing system. As of January 2023, the application fee is $221.
4. Complete a fingerprint check and receive your LPC-Associate license.
Once you have submitted your LPC-Associate license online, you will receive an email with instructions on how to complete the required fingerprint criminal record checks through the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Once these checks have been received, your license application will be approved.
5. Accrue supervised experience.
Individuals granted an LPC-Associate license must then complete 3,000 hours of supervised counseling internship. At least 1,500 hours must be spent in direct contact with client groups, such as individuals or families. The internship must take at least 18 months to complete but must be completed in 60 months before the temporary license expires.
6. Apply for LPC licensure and receive your license.
Once you have completed your internship hours, you can apply online to upgrade your license from LPC-Associate to LPC. There is no additional cost to upgrade your license and you do not need to re-submit any documents to the Board. Upgrade requests take approximately three to four weeks to process and you will be notified by mail of the results. You may only start practicing independently once you receive your new license.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensure by Reciprocity in Texas
Texas does not have reciprocity agreements with other states for counselor licensure and you must meet the same licensure requirements applicable to all new candidates. If you are already licensed as a counselor in another state, you may be able to apply for a provisional license that will enable you to work as a counselor while your full license application is reviewed. As of January 2023, the processing fee for a provisional license is $221. You must submit your transcripts, exam results, supervised experience documentation form, and other supporting documents for review. The Board provides a checklist to help you ensure your application is complete. Applicants will be considered for provisional licensure on a case-by-case basis.
Counselor License Renewal and Continuing Education Information
LPC licensure must be renewed every two years in Texas and can be completed through the online portal. Licensees are mailed a reminder at least 30 days prior to expiry. During every two-year period, LPCs must attend 24 hours of continuing education, including four hours of ethics training (of which two hours must be directly related to Texas ethics) and approved human trafficking prevention training. The Texas Jurisprudence Exam may be taken once during each renewal period and counted as one hour of ethics training. Proof of completion of these requirements must be kept by licensees in the event of a randomized CE hours audit. As of January 2023, the fee for renewal is $121.
Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Texas
Professional counselors may also specialize in particular issues, settings, or demographics and may need to seek licensure through other pathways. Other types of licensed counselors in Texas include licensed marriage and family therapists, school counselors, and substance abuse counselors.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs) have a wide scope of practice in Texas and can provide a diverse range of individual, couple, and group therapies to help clients manage and maintain relationships with others. The Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists (the Board) issues licenses for both Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associates (LMFT Associates). Associate licensure is issued first and allows candidates to fulfill the requirements for full licensure that have not yet been met. For both types of licensure, a graduate degree in marriage and family therapy or closely related mental health field comprised of at least 60 semester hours and with coursework in specific areas is required. The LMFT licensure process requires candidates to:
- Pass the Texas Jurisprudence Exam.
- Pass 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 Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy Exam.
- Apply to the Board for an MFT Associate licensure.
- Complete fingerprint checks and receive your license.
- Complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical practice (of which at least 1,500 hours must be direct client contact including 500 hours with couples and families) and 200 hours of supervision by a Board-approved supervisor.
- Request to upgrade your license and receive your LMFT license in approximately six weeks.
For more information about LMFT careers, see the LMFT career guide.
Unlike other types of counseling in Texas, school counseling falls under the Student Services Certificate umbrella. Individuals hoping to become school counselors must hold a master’s degree from an accredited college or university and complete an approved Educator Preparation Program (EPP) in school counseling. In Texas, school counselors help students with academic concerns, such as academic progress and improvement, as well as personal concerns, such as behavioral issues and mental health needs. To become a school counselor in Texas, follow these steps:
- Earn at least two years of classroom teaching experience.
- Pass the TEA School Counselor TExES certification exam.
- Apply for certification through the Texas Education Agency (TEA) online.
- Receive your school counseling certificate.
To learn more about the path to becoming a school counselor, visit our school counseling career guide.
Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC)
In Texas, counselors specifically trained to address substance abuse issues are licensed as Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselors (LCDCs) through the Texas Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). You must apply to become a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor Intern (LCDC-I) first to work towards full licensure. As of January 2023, the application fee to become an LCDC-I is $25. Although only a high school degree is required to become an LCDC-I, you will need to complete at least an associate’s degree and a significant clinical internship to earn full licensure. Supervised work experience may be waived for applicants with a graduate-level degree in a counseling-related field. As an LCDC, you will be able to work with individuals suffering from chemical dependency to help them address substance use issues and the impact of substance use in their daily lives, but more complex cases may need to be referred to other types of counseling professionals. To become an LCDC:
- Complete 270 classroom hours of chemical dependency coursework and 300 hours of supervised practicum, or a bachelor’s degree in a field related to human behavior and development.
- Apply to the HHS as an LCDC-I and receive approval.
- Complete an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, if not already completed, and a 4,000-hour internship at a Board-approved facility under the supervision of an approved supervisor.
- Pass the Texas Certification Board (TCB) Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC) exam.
- Submit the application including the $75 application fee (as of January 2023) and two letters of reference from other LCDCs.
- Receive your LCDC license.
Optional Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Texas
In addition to administering the LCDC exam, the Texas Certification Board (TCB) offers optional credentials for substance abuse counseling professionals. Optional credentials can help you gain skills in different areas that can be added to your resume. These certifications may help you stand out while job searching but are not required to practice in the state.
- Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC)
- Certified Criminal Justice Addictions Professional (CCJP)
- Peer Recovery Support Specialist (PRSS)
More information about substance abuse counseling careers can be found in our substance abuse counseling career guide.
Other Professional Counseling Careers
The therapeutic skills gained through a counseling degree and clinical training can be useful in many settings. In addition to the careers mentioned above, professional counselors may also find work with other populations or in other areas of practice. Some related careers include:
- Rehabilitation Counselor
- Gambling Counselor
- Genetic Counselor
- Youth Counselor
- Guidance Counselor
- Pastoral Counselor
- Recreational Therapist
Texas Counseling Career and Salary Information
There are 50,800 counselors working in Texas with over half employed as educational, guidance, and career counselors (27,780), making Texas the second-highest-ranked state in this category for the total number of people employed.1-5 Given this high number, it is no surprise that two metropolitan areas in Texas (Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land) rank in the top 10 for overall jobs in this category (6,800 and 6,260 respectively).3 Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors also report the highest annual mean salary ($59,560) among various types of counselors in Texas.3 Texas also ranks fifth in the nation for the highest employment level of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (16,970) and first for the counselor, all other category (2,630).1,5
Job prospects for counselors in Texas are good as all counselor jobs are expected to grow above national averages through 2030.6 While substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselor jobs are projected to experience the largest percentage growth (28.2%), educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselor positions are projected to have the largest total growth (4,520 positions) with 3,050 average annual openings.6 Rehabilitation counselors may see an increase of 14.5% through 2030, while all other types of counselor jobs may increase by 14.8%.6
|Occupation||Number Employed1-5||Average Annual Salary1-5|
|Counselors, All Other||2,630||$50,240|
|Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors||27,780||$59,560|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||800||$56,950|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||16,970||$49,510|
Counseling Associations in Texas
- Lone Star State School Counselor Association (LSSSCA): Professional organization to promote the importance of school counselors in Texas, including an annual award program for outstanding contributions.
- Texas Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (TAMFT): Professional association offering innovative resources, training, and networking opportunities for marriage and family therapists in Texas.
- Texas Association of Addiction Professionals (TAAP): Advocacy and networking organization that supports the cohesion of substance abuse services in Texas by providing resources and support to a variety of addiction professionals, including CIs and LCDCs.
- Texas Counseling Association (TCA): State-wide organization that advocates on behalf of the professional counseling community and provides professional development opportunities.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Texas?
The time required to earn licensure depends on many factors, including your educational background and how quickly you complete the mandatory clinical training. Typically, you will need to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree, at least one-to-two years of graduate study, and 18 months of clinical internship. You should also consider any breaks in your degree plan, exam study preparation, and application processing times, which may vary.
Do I need to complete a degree at an approved program or school to work as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Texas?
The Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors does not provide a list of approved programs or schools for LPC licensure. Any program will be considered if it is counseling-related and includes a minimum of 60 credit hours. It must also include 300 hours of supervised practicum and course content from 10 core areas, such as human behaviors and professional development.
Who can supervise my internship hours while I am an LPC-Intern?
Supervisors must be Board-approved in order to supervise an LPC-Intern. In order to apply for Board approval, the individual must maintain LPC licensure in good standing for at least three years and then complete a 40-hour training course on supervision. As of January 2023, the fee to become a Board-approved supervisor is $54.
Can I work as a school counselor if I don’t have an education degree?
Prospective school counselors must complete an approved Educator Preparation Program (EPP) and a master’s degree. Admission requirements for EPPs and master’s degree programs vary and you may not need to complete an education-focused degree if all other requirements are met. All school counselors must work as a teacher for at least two years before they are eligible to earn the School Counselor certification.
Where can I complete my LCDC internship once I am approved as an LCDC-I?
You may choose to complete your internship in a number of different settings, including a hospital, detoxification facility, or community mental health center. Regardless of the type of setting, the organization must be authorized as a Clinical Training Institute (CTI) by the Texas Department of State Health Services. The process of becoming an approved CTI is rigorous to ensure the internship meets professional standards.
What is the average salary range for counselors in Texas?
Average salaries can vary based on the type of counselor and the geographic area. At the state-wide level, the average salary for counselors ranges between $43,610 for rehabilitation counselors to $59,560 for educational, guidance, and career counselors.3,4
What is the typical school counselor salary in Texas?
School counselors are included in the educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors category by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which reports an annual mean salary of $59,560.3 This is slightly above the average annual salary in Texas across all professions ($54,230) but slightly below the national average for the entire educational and school counselor category ($63,090).3
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