Texas Counseling License Requirements
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. Currently, 42,520 individuals are employed across a range of counseling careers in the Lone Star state with promising projected job growth through 2026, particularly for those interested in school counseling.1-5 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 who are keen to complete 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.
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 Counselor (LMFC), 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. 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.
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 Department of State Health Services oversees LPC, LMFC, and LCDC licensure, while the Texas Education Agency certifies 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
To become a professional counselor in Texas, you must complete either a counseling-related master’s degree or 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. The Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council oversees the licensure process. In Texas, licensed professional counselors are trained to assess individuals, develop treatment plans, provide counseling, and consult or make referrals on a variety of mental health and therapeutic issues. For more about a career in professional counseling, read our mental health counselor career guide. In Texas, to become an LPC, you should complete the following steps.
1. Pass the required exams.
You must pass both the NCMHCE and the Texas Jurisprudence Exam before applying for licensure. The NCMHCE is a multiple-choice test designed to assess counseling skills and knowledge. Free study resources are available online through the National Board for Certified Counselors. The Texas Jurisprudence Exam tests your knowledge of ethical and legal issues related to counseling. In Texas, you are allowed to attempt the Texas Jurisprudence Exam up to three times at which point further coursework may be required by the Board.
2. Register as a Temporary Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).
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 Temporary LPC (also called LPC-Intern) registration once your graduate degree is complete and you have passed both exams. You can use the paper application or apply online. As of July 2019, the application fee is $200.
3. Accrue supervised experience.
Individuals granted a temporary LPC 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. Proposed supervisors must attend a 40-hour supervision course and be licensed to supervise by the Board.
4. Apply for LPC licensure and receive your license.
Once you have completed your internship hours, you can apply to upgrade your license from LPC-Intern to full LPC, either by using the paper application or applying online. 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 start practicing independently once you receive your new license.
Professional Counselor Licensure by Reciprocity in Texas
Texas does not have reciprocity agreements with other states for counselor licensure. 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 July 2019, the processing fee for a provisional license is $200. You must submit your transcripts, National Counseling Exam results, and complete file from the state where you were previously licensed. Your file must show that you were in good standing and applicants will be considered for provisional licensure on a case-by-case basis.
Counselor Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information
LPC licensure must be renewed every two years in Texas and can be completed through the online portal or by mail. During every two year period, LPCs must attend 24 hours of continuing education, including three hours of ethics training and successful completion of the Texas Jurisprudence Exam. Proof of completion of these requirements must be submitted as part of the renewal process. As of July 2019, the fee for renewal is $106.
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 Behavioral Health Executive Council 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 related mental health field is required. The LMFT licensure process requires candidates to:
- Pass the Texas Jurisprudence Exam.
- Pass the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) national exam.
- Apply to the Board and receive your LMFT Associate licensure.
- Complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical practice 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 certification is considered an extension of teacher education. Individuals hoping to become school counselors are required to be certified as teachers first by completing an approved Educator Preparation Program (EPP) and gaining at least two years of work experience as a teacher in the classroom. Then, applicants must complete a school counselor certification program through the Texas Education Agency and a master’s degree approved by their certification program provider. This may be a good fit if you are interested in helping children and youth reach their full potential in school and beyond. 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 work experience.
- Pass the Texas Educator Certification School Counselor Exam.
- Apply for certification through the Texas Education Agency online.
- Receive your certification.
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. You must apply to become a Counselor Intern (CI) first to work towards full licensure. As of July 2019, the application fee to become a CI is $65. Although only a high school degree is required to become a CI, you will need to complete at least an associate’s degree and a significant clinical internship to earn full licensure. As an LCDC, you will be able to work with individuals suffering from chemical dependency but more complex cases may need to be referred to other types of counseling professionals. To become an LCDC:
- Complete 270 hours of chemical dependency coursework and 300 hours of supervised practicum.
- Apply to the Board as a Counselor Intern and receive approval.
- Complete a 4,000-hour internship at a Board-approved facility under the supervision of an approved supervisor.
- Pass the Texas Certification Board of Addiction Professionals Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor exam.
- Submit two letters of reference from other LCDCs.
- Receive your LCDC license.
Other Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Texas
- Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC)
- Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Counselor (ADC)
- Advanced Certified Prevention Specialist (ACPS)
- Associate Prevention Specialist (APS)
- Certified Chemical Dependency Specialist (CCDS)
- Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS)
- Certified Criminal Justice Addictions Professional Applicant Status (CCJP-A)
- Certified Criminal Justice Addictions Professional (CCJP)
- Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS)
- Mental Health Peer Specialist (MHPS)
- Peer Recovery Instructor (PRI)
- Peer Mentor / Peer Recovery Coach Designation (PM/PRC)
- Peer Recovery Support Specialist (PRSS)
- Peer Specialist Supervisor (PSS)
- Recovery Support Peer Specialist (RSPS)
- Re-Entry Peer Specialist (JI-RPS)
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 45,520 counselors working in Texas with over half employed as educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (25,670), 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 (Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land and Dallas-Plano-Irving) rank in the top 10 for overall jobs in this category (5,240 and 4,530 respectively).3 Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors also report the highest annual mean salary ($60,080) among various types of counselors in Texas.3 Individuals in the counselors, all other category also reported a competitive state-wide annual mean figure ($58,110) with McAllen-Edinburg-Mission ($65,180), Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land ($64,070), and Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington ($63,490) ranking in the top 10 highest paying metropolitan areas in the country in this job category. 5
Job prospects for counselors in Texas are good as all counselor jobs are expected to grow by at least 20% through 2026. While marriage and family therapist jobs are projected to experience the largest percentage growth (26.6%), educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselor positions are projected to have the largest total growth (5,470 positions) with 3,470 annual openings. Mental health counselors may see an increase of 1,280 positions, while rehabilitation counselors may see an increase of 930 positions and all other types of counselor jobs may increase by 780.6 It appears that many counselor positions can presently be found in the Texas education system and this trend is likely to continue.
|Occupation||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Counselors, All Other||2,660||$58,110|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||25,670||$60,080|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||770||$45,820|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||10,150||$47,010|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1-5
Counseling Associations in Texas
- Lone Star State School Counselor Association: 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 Counselors: Professional association offering innovative resources, training, and networking opportunities for marriage and family therapists in Texas.
- Texas Association of Addiction Professionals: 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: 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 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 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 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 July 2019, the fee to become a Board-approved supervisor is $100 every two years.
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 a CI?
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 $44,910 for rehabilitation counselors to $60,080 for educational, guidance, school, and vocational 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 BLS. In Texas, they earn nearly the same as the national average salary, which is $60,080 in Texas and $60,160 nationally.3
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