Utah Counseling License Requirements
As of May 2021, there are 10,570 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. 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.
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 master’s or doctoral degree related to the practice area pursued. There are several counseling schools in Utah that offer programs designed to meet the state’s specific requirements, though out-of-state programs may also suffice. Often, prospective counselors will also be required to meet other guidelines, such as experience requirements and passing exam scores. If you already hold a license in another state and are looking to practice in Utah, visit our Counseling License Reciprocity Guide.
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 Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (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 (the Division). School counselors are licensed by the Utah State Board of Education (the Board). 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 (the Division). A 60-credit Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)-accredited or Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)-accredited master’s or doctoral degree in mental health counseling including a 700-hour supervised practicum or internship 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. Apply to become 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 no more than 12 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 January 2023).
2. Pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE) and the National Counselor Examination (NCE).
Before you receive your CMHC license, you must pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE) and the National Counselor Examination (NCE) administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). The exams take place by appointment at Pearson Vue testing centers across the country. An NCMHCE handbook and NCE handbook are available to help you understand the exam formats and the knowledge they will test. You are allowed to attempt the exams three times within a two-year period.
3. Accrue supervised experience.
Every CMHC applicant must complete 3,000 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. A minimum of two hours of training in suicide prevention through a Division-approved course is also required. The supervisor must be a qualified CMHC, psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, registered psychiatric mental health nurse specialist, or marriage and family therapist supervisor 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 January 2023. Paper licenses are no longer issued so, once approved, the Division will send you a printable confirmation of your license by email.
CMHC 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 3,000 hours of work experience, including 1,000 hours of direct mental health counseling. As of January 2023, the application fee is $120.
Counselor License 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 $93 renewal fee (as of January 2023). At least 40 hours of continuing education (CE) are required during each renewal cycle, including six hours of ethics or law training and two hours of suicide prevention 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 (the Division) also 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 master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy accredited by Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) or a closely related degree with significant coursework in marriage and family therapy, including a 400-hour supervised practicum. Utah’s LMFT licensing procedure requires candidates to:
- Apply online or submit a paper application to become an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (AMFT) or AMFT Extern (only for applicants who have a coursework deficiency of no more than 12 credits).
- Take and pass the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Board (AMFTRB) Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) Exam.
- Earn 4,000 hours of supervised experience, 1,000 of which must be supervised training in mental health therapy and includes 500 hours in couple or family therapy as well as 100 hours of direct supervision. A qualified supervisor must be an LMFT, CMHC, psychiatrist, psychologist, registered psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, or clinical social worker for at least two consecutive years prior to beginning supervised training.
- Submit an LMFT paper application or apply online and pay the $120 application fee (as of January 2023).
- Receive your LMFT license.
To learn more about licensed marriage and family therapist careers, visit our LMFT career guide.
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 from a state-approved school and seek an educator license with a school counseling concentration through the Utah State Board of Education (the Board). To become a school counselor in Utah, complete these steps:
- Take and pass the Praxis Professional School Counselor exam.
- Submit a recommendation for licensure from the university in which you completed your degree program.
- Apply for and receive your Professional Educator License in School Counseling.
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 (the Division) is responsible for issuing substance abuse counselor licenses. The Division offers two substance abuse licenses: 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). These certifications (CSUDC and CASUDC) are open to applicants who meet the minimum educational requirements; the corresponding licenses (LSUDC and 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:
- Complete the education and experience requirements for the CSUDC or CASUDCA Intern credential (CSUDC: 200 hours of substance use disorder-related education with 200 hours of supervised practicum or CASUDCA: 300 hours of substance use disorder related education with 350 hours of supervised practicum).
- Apply online or submit a CSUDC Intern paper application or CASUDC Intern paper application
- Take and pass one of the exams required by the Division. CSUDCs: the National Certification Exam (NCE) Level I, II, or Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) exam from the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC); the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) Alcohol Drug Counselor (ADC); or the IC&RC Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC) exam. CASUDCs: NAADAC Level II exam, MAC exam, or IC&RC AADC exam.
- Apply online (or submit a CSUDC paper application or CASUDC paper application) to receive your certification.
- Earn supervised experience (2,000 hours for CSUDC or 4,000 for CASUDC).
- Apply online (or submit a LSUDC paper application or LASUDC paper application) to receive your license.
Optional Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Utah
In addition to the credentials listed above, there are several optional credentials for Utah substance abuse counselors and for individuals who are interested in working in support positions offered by other Utah organizations. These credentials are not required to become a licensed substance use disorder counselor and they do not qualify you to practice substance abuse counseling, but they may open up career advancement opportunities for those who are currently licensed and provide options for those looking to work in this field in other capacities.
- Association of Utah Substance Abuse Professionals (AUSAP): Offers the IC&RC recognized certifications of Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC), Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC), Clinical Supervisor (CS) and Prevention Specialist (PS).
- Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS): Offers Certified Peer Support Specialist (CPSS) and Family Peer Support Specialist (FPSS) credentials.
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 10,570 individuals working in counseling fields in Utah are educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors (4,970) and approximately one-third are substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (3,450).1-5 Utah counselors in a number of fields enjoy high average annual salaries compared to national averages; Utah ranks first in the country for average annual salary for both marriage and family therapists ($86,490) and substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselor salaries ($66,190).1,2 These salaries are significantly higher than the national average annual salaries of $59,660 for marriage and family therapists and $53,490 for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors.1,2
Job market projections for counseling jobs in all fields in Utah are extremely promising with most growth rates coming in far above national averages through 2030. The fastest projected growth is for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (37.2% compared to 22.9% nationally), followed by educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (33.3% compared to 11.5% nationally); marriage and family therapists (27.9% compared to 16.3% nationally); and “all other” counselors (21.6% compared to 9% nationally).6 Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselor positions are projected to increase the most during this period (1,630 new jobs), followed by substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (1,460).6 Given the high salary potential and optimistic job outlook, Utah may have much to offer prospective counselors in the coming years.
|Occupation||Number Employed1-5||Average Annual Salary1-5|
|Counselors, All Other||660||$39,950|
|Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors||4,970||$53,710|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||910||$86,490|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||3,450||$66,190|
Counseling Associations in Utah
- Association of Utah Substance Abuse Professionals (AUSAP): The Utah chapter of the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) that supports substance abuse professionals in Utah through political activism and certification as well as providing professional and educational resources.
- Utah Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (UAMFT): Association that strives to keep members informed about legislative changes, continuing education opportunities, and best practices through annual conferences and electronic communications.
- Utah Mental Health Counselors Association (UMHCA): Organization supporting the professional development of mental health counselors through an annual conference, training workshops, and peer consultation groups.
- Utah School Counselor Association (USCA): A professional organization that promotes the importance of school counselors to the general public, school boards, government, parents, and beyond.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the continuing education (CE) requirements for Utah counselors?
The requirements for CE are set forth in the Utah Administrative 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 (the Division) 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 700 hours of supervised clinical training through at least one practicum or internship, including 240 hours of mental health counseling experience.
Can I become a school counselor by completing an online degree?
The Utah State Board of Education (the Board) 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 $39,950 for “all other” counselors to $86,490 for marriage and family therapists.2,5 Marriage and family therapists earn well above the national average ($86,490 compared to $59,660 nationally) and Utah ranks first among all states in this category.2 Utah also ranks first for the substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselor ($66,190) average salary, well above the national average ($53,490 nationally).1 This is followed by the average annual salary for educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors ($53,710) and rehabilitation counselors ($42,500).3,5
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