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Utah Counseling License Requirements

If you are thinking about pursuing counseling licensure in Utah, this guide will help you understand the steps required to become a Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CMHC) or another type of professional counselor in the state. There are currently 7,500 counselors working in Utah in different areas of the profession.1-5 Although Utah has strict requirements for prospective and licensed counselors, recent data suggest this state has an excellent job outlook and offers competitive salaries. A Utah counseling license could be a good career move for those with the dedication necessary to obtain licensure in this growing profession.

Table of Contents
How to Become a Counselor in Utah
Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CMHC) Licensing Process
Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Utah
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
School Counselor
Licensed Substance-Use Disorder Counselor (LSUDC)
Other Professional Counseling Careers
Utah Counseling Career and Salary Information
Counseling Associations in Utah
Frequently Asked Questions

How to Become a Counselor in Utah

Utah requires most types of professional counselors to earn a graduate degree related to the practice area pursued. Often, prospective counselors will also be required to meet other guidelines, such as experience requirements and passing exam scores.

1. Choose one area of counseling to pursue.

As there are many subdisciplines within counseling, your first step should be to decide on a specific area of counseling to pursue. Each area of counseling has a different type of licensure and will have different steps to complete. Exploring your options ahead of time will help you choose the right degree program that meets Utah licensure requirements.

2. Complete the degree(s) required for your counseling practice area.

In Utah, most counseling licensure processes require at least a master’s degree to be eligible. Completing an acceptable degree program is one of many steps towards becoming a competent and licensed professional. Mental health counselors in Utah must have a master’s degree in mental health counseling; marriage and family therapists must have a graduate degree accredited by COAMFTE; school counselors must have a master’s degree in school counseling; and substance abuse counselors must have at least an associate’s degree.

3. Get licensed to practice counseling in Utah.

After completing your education, you can begin the licensure process with the correct state body responsible for your area of expertise. In Utah, counseling licenses for mental health counselors, substance abuse counselors, and marriage and family therapists are issued by the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. School counselors are licensed by the Utah State Board of Education. Continue reading this guide for more information about each of these licensure processes.

Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CMHC) Licensing Process

To become a mental health counselor in Utah, you must earn a clinical mental health counselor (CMHC) license issued by the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. A 60-credit CHEA-accredited or CACREP-accredited master’s or doctoral degree in mental health counseling including 1,000 hours of supervised experience is required. In Utah, CMHCs provide mental health counseling services that include observing, describing, evaluating, interpreting, intervening, and treating mental or emotional illnesses, maladaptive behaviors, and dysfunctions. If you would like to learn more about a career as a professional counselor, read our mental health counselor career guide. To become a CMHC in Utah, you will complete these steps.

1. Register as an Associate Clinical Mental Health Counselor (ACMHC) or Associate Clinical Mental Health Extern (ACMHE).

The first step in the licensure process is to register with the DIvision as an Associate Clinical Mental Health Counselor (ACMHC) or Associate Clinical Mental Health Extern (ACMHE). ACMHCs and ACMHEs are eligible to complete the remaining licensure requirements, including accruing supervised experience. Most applicants will seek the ACMHC license as the ACMHE license is only necessary for applicants who have a coursework deficiency of at most six graduate-level credits. The Division prefers online applications, but you can also use the paper application available to download online. This license is valid for three years and it costs $85 to apply (as of September 2019).

2. Pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE).

Before you receive your CMHC license, you must pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE) administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). The exam takes place by appointment at Pearson Vue testing centers across the country. An NCMHCE handbook is available to help you understand the simulation format of the exam and the knowledge it will test. You are allowed to attempt the exam three times within a two-year period.

3. Accrue supervised experience.

Every CMHC applicant must complete 4,000 hours of supervised work experience in at least two years and submit supporting documentation to the Division either with the application packet or online. The applicant must complete 1,000 hours of supervised training in mental health therapy, including at least 100 hours under the direct supervision of a qualified supervisor; these hours may be included as part of the total training hours. The supervisor must be a qualified CMHC, psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, registered psychiatric mental health nurse specialist, physician, or marriage and family therapist with an active license in good standing. Further details on supervision requirements can be found in the Utah Administrative Code.

4. Apply for and receive your Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CMHC) license.

Use either the online application or the paper application to apply for your CMHC license once you have accrued the required hours and passed the exam. The application fee is $120 as of September 2019. Paper licenses are no longer issued so, once approved, the Division will send you a printable confirmation of your license by email.

Professional Counselor Licensure by Endorsement in Utah

Utah does not have formal arrangements with other states for licensure reciprocity, but the Division does review applications for licensure by endorsement on a case-by-case basis. Applicants can use the online CMHC application or the paper CMHC application to apply and complete the endorsement sections of the application. The Division requires endorsement applicants to verify that they have completed 4,000 hours of work experience, including 1,000 hours of direct mental health counseling. As of September 2019, the application fee is $120.

Counselor Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

CMHC licenses must be renewed by September 30 of even-numbered years. The Division sends renewal notices to licensees by mail or email with instructions 60 days before the deadline. Licensees should renew online by paying the renewal fee is $93 (as of September 2019). At least 40 hours of continuing education (CE) are required during each renewal cycle, including six hours of ethics or law training. Licensees should keep documentation for at least four years after the renewal cycle ends as the Division may request proof of completion.

Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Utah

The pathway to Utah counseling licensure will vary depending on the type of licensure you seek. The state also requires licensure for the other major counseling areas described below, such as licensed marriage and family therapists, school counselors, and substance abuse counselors.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)

The Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing issues licenses for licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs). In Utah, LMFTs provide mental health counseling and psychotherapy to individuals, couples, and families using interpersonal and family systems theories; they are also able to diagnose and treat mental disorders. Applicants must have a graduate degree in marriage and family therapy accredited by COAMFTE or a closely related degree with significant coursework in marriage and family therapy. Applications can be submitted online or using the paper application. The application fee is $85 for the associate license and $120 for the MFT license, as of September 2019. Utah’s LMFT licensing procedure requires candidates to:

  • Register as an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (AMFT).
  • Pass the national AMFTRB MFT exam.
  • Earn supervised experience.
  • Request and receive your LMFT license.

To learn more about licensed marriage and family therapist careers, visit our LMFT career guide.

School Counselor

School counselors in Utah have a broad scope of practice and while individual student assistance is a major part of their daily work, they are also leaders in systemic school change through program evaluation, college and career readiness, and equity-based programming. Prospective school counselors must complete a master’s degree in school counseling and seek an educator license with a school counseling concentration through the Utah State Board of Education. The Board offers three levels of licensure that must be completed in order, although Level 3 licensure is not required. To become a school counselor in Utah, complete these steps:

  • Pass the Praxis Professional School Counselor exam.
  • Request Level 1 licensure and pass a fingerprint and background check.
  • Complete supervised work experience.
  • Request your Level 2 license.
  • Fulfill the requirements of National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certification, earn a doctoral degree related to public education, or earn a speech-language pathology specialization (optional).
  • Request your Level 3 license (optional).

Read more about this pathway on our school counseling career guide.

Licensed Substance-Use Disorder Counselor (LSUDC)

The Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing is responsible for issuing substance abuse counselor licenses. The Division offers two types of substance abuse licensure: Licensed Substance-Use Disorder Counselor (LSUDC) and Licensed Advanced Substance-Use Disorder Counselor (LASUDC). Before full licensure can be achieved, applicants must become certified as either a Certified Substance-Use Disorder Counselor (CSUDC) or a Certified Advanced Substance-Use Disorder Counselor (CASUDC). The certifications (CSUDC, CASUDC) are open to applicants who meet the minimum educational requirements; the corresponding licenses (LSUDC, LASUDC) can be applied for after gaining the required work experience. The minimum educational requirement for CSUDCs and LSUDCs is an associate’s degree with coursework in human development and psychology. The CASUDC certification and LASUDC license require a bachelor’s degree with coursework in human development and psychology. Substance abuse counselors in Utah screen and assess clients, provide case management and counseling services, and make referrals to other professionals for issues related to substance abuse disorders. To earn either the LSUDC or LASUDC license, complete these requirements:

  • Register as a CSUDC or CASUDC Intern.
  • Pass the NAADAC National Certification Exam Level II or MAC or the IC&RC Advanced Alcohol and Drug exam.
  • Request a CSUDC or CASUDC license.
  • Earn supervised experience.
  • Request and receive an LSUDC or LASUDC license.

Other Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Utah

  • Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC/CAC)
  • Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC)
  • Certified Peer Support Specialist
  • Clinical Supervisor (CS)
  • Prevention Specialist (PS)

Read more about substance abuse counselors and what they do on our substance abuse counseling career guide.

Other Professional Counseling Careers

In addition to the popular types of counseling licensure described above, there are many other subdisciplines in the field of counseling. You may wish to pursue a counseling career in one of these alternative areas:

  • Rehabilitation Counselor
  • Gambling Counselor
  • Genetic Counselor
  • Youth Counselor
  • Guidance Counselor
  • Pastoral Counselor
  • Recreational Therapist

Utah Counseling Career and Salary Information

Nearly half of the 7,500 individuals working in counseling fields in Utah are educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (3,400) and approximately one third are substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (2,540).1-5 Utah counselors in a number of fields enjoy high salaries compared to national averages; Utah ranks first in the country for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselor salaries ($66,330), with counselors in St. George earning $75,000, counselors in Salt Lake City earning $73,250, and counselors in eastern Utah earning an average of $70,890.1 Utah also ranks fifth for marriage and family therapist salaries at $70,960 with therapists in Provo-Orem earning $95,670 and Ogden-Clearfield therapists earning $74,410.2

Job market projections for counseling jobs in all fields in Utah are extremely promising with all growth rates coming in far above national averages through 2026. The fastest projected growth is for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors (44.8% compared to 23.2% nationally) followed by marriage and family therapists (43.5% compared to 23.4% nationally), mental health counselors (40.0% compared to 23.1% nationally), educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (38.4% compared to 12.6% nationally), and rehabilitation counselors (25.4% compared to 12.7% nationally).6 Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors are projected to increase the most during this period (1,040 new jobs), followed by mental health counselors (540).6 Given the high salary potential and optimistic job outlook, Utah may have much to offer prospective counselors in the coming years.

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Counselors, All Other500$39,220
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors3,400$52,200
Marriage and Family Therapists520$70,960
Rehabilitation Counselors540$44,900
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors2,540$66,330

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1-5

Counseling Associations in Utah

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the continuing education (CE) requirements for Utah counselors?

The requirements for CE are set forth in the Utah Adminstrative Code. CMHCs must complete 40 hours of CE during each two-year renewal period, which is prorated during the first renewal cycle. The Division does set some limits on certain types of activities. For example, a maximum of 10 hours can be attributed to online and distance learning and up to 10 hours can be credited for teaching a course in clinical mental health at the post-secondary level. Additionally, up to 10 CE hours can be carried forward into the next renewal cycle.

Can Utah counselors provide telehealth counseling services?

Telehealth counseling refers to the delivery of counseling services using technology-assisted means. The Division allows licensed counselors to provide telehealth services within their scope of practice according to the same ethical and professional standards as face-to-face services. Licensed counselors providing telehealth services must adhere to additional state guidelines to ensure clients understand any differences in providing consent, paying fees, and requesting follow up compared to face-to-face methods. More information can be found in the Utah Administrative Code.

What are the coursework requirements for counseling licensure in Utah?

The Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing expects applicants to complete a master’s or doctoral degree accredited by either CHEA or CACREP in mental health counseling. The degree must include coursework in 10 key areas, including group counseling, professional ethics, assessment and testing, and psychopathological behavior. If their degree is not accredited by CACREP, applicants must document course details as part of the application process. The degree must also include 1,000 hours of supervised work experience, including 400 hours of mental health counseling experience.

Can I become a school counselor by completing an online degree?

The Utah State Board of Education accepts online master’s degrees in school counseling with some stipulations. The degree program must be accredited by CACREP and meet the same coursework requirements as traditional programs in Utah. If the online program is based in another state, the applicant must be licensed in that state first before applying for Utah licensure.

What is the average salary for a counselor in Utah?

Average salaries for Utah counselors range from $39,220 for counselors, all other to $70,960 for marriage and family therapists.5,2 Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earn well above the national average ($66,330 compared to $47,920 nationally) and Utah ranks first among all states in this category.1 Utah also ranks fifth for the marriage and family therapist average salary, well above the national average ($54,150 nationally).2 Rehabilitation counselors earn $44,900 compared to $39,930 nationally and counselors, all other earn $39,220 compared to $47,740 nationally.4

References:
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