Driving a car, operating a business, and working directly with clients in need are all actions that require licensure throughout the U.S. If you are interested in being a part of organizations that provide restricted services to the public, you may be required to go through the rigorous, yet fulfilling, education and experience requirements set forth for professionals in your field. Licensure can help you spotlight your experience and knowledge in the field, while providing peace of mind to the people you serve.
The licensure process can vary depending on your professional field and the state you live in. Most states have specific licensing departments that are responsible for reviewing your application and helping you set up board examinations to finalize the licensing process. In order to qualify for licensure in the field of counseling, you may be required to provide proof of completion of an accredited master's degree program, proof of supervised work experience in a real-world setting under a licensed counselor, and successfully pass your state's board examination for counseling professionals.
Completing these requirements and obtaining your license can be an experience that pays off for you over the course of your career. Many counseling organizations only seek out licensed professionals so that they can provide the most reliable services to the public. Showcasing your license could potentially align you with career options that are limited to only the most qualified individuals in your field.
What is NCC Licensure?
Applicants seeking NCC certification must first take part in a master's degree program that meets the National Board for Counseling Certification's (NBCC) requirements. Master's programs must contain a required set of courses that are typically found in most CACREP-accredited degree programs. The NBCC provides a complete list of required courses on their website for you to review.
In addition to the required course sequences, professionals seeking NCC licensure must also provide proof of 100 postgraduate supervised hours in a clinical setting. This requirement goes alongside a work experience requirement of 3,000 hours that must have been completed within the last 24 months. NCC certification and licensure may also require you to pursue a professional endorsement from a licensed counselor in the field as well as a signed statement of your agreement to follow ethical guidelines throughout your career.
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Counseling Degree Programs for NCC Licensure
Students considering further certification as NCCs can pursue specializations in 1 of 3 specialized fields. The online Master's of Counseling is the most preferred generalized degree program for students to pursue, with concentration options in mental health counseling, school counseling, and addiction counseling. Other specialized fields in counseling have no yet been reviewed for potential NBCC certification. If you are considering enrollment into one of these programs and later certification as a NCC, read more about what each degree program can provide you with below.
- Online Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling: One of the most preferred online degree programs for students seeking the NCC designation is the Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. This degree program can provide students with rigorous learning and experience that can translate to hands-on intervention with patients in the field. This program may also include a field experience requirement that allow students to observe clinical practice in the field being performed by licensed and experienced counselors. If you are seeking NCC certification, this is definitely a great degree program to consider completing in the online setting.
- Online Master's in School Counseling: The NCC also currently certifies learners that have specialized in the field of school counseling. Online Master's in School Counseling programs can help you gain skills needed for helping children of school-age manage the everyday pressures of young life, as well as assist them with planning for future careers and educational opportunities. Students interested in this path can also complete a generalized online Master's in Counseling and then additional post-master's certification programs in school counseling prior to gaining their required experience.
- Online Master's in Addiction Counseling: Online Master's in Addiction Counseling programs can train students on methods for assessing, diagnosing, and treating people that are struggling with addiction. NCC certification for this degree program may include both graduation from an accredited program and completion of a work experience requirement prior to becoming certified. If you have a desire to help others overcome powerful addictions, this could be the online degree path for you to consider.
Counseling @ Northwestern is a CACREP-accredited online Master of Arts in Counseling Program with accelerated, traditional, and part-time track options. GRE scores are not required, nor is prior counseling experience. You will complete six quarters of supervised clinical field placements, which will prepare you to pursue licensure as a clinical mental health counselor in as few as 18 months.
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Prepare to become a mental health counselor – earn your master of arts in Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness online from NYU Steinhardt. The program is MPCAC-accredited and prepares students to pursue state licensure. Complete in as few as 21 months. GRE not required.
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The Path to NCC Certification
Like many other certification programs in the field of counseling, NCC certification may require you to receive higher levels of training within your field prior to becoming eligible for testing. The purpose of NCC certification is to promote your own expertise and higher knowledge in the field so that you can obtain better paying positions in your field during the life of your career. The NBCC provides step-by-step instructions on how to pursue certification in your field starting with your master’s education.
As outlined in a previous section, the certification process involves in-depth learning and experience requirements while in your degree program and shortly thereafter. This type of certification also requires that you spend some time working in the field under a supervisor prior to being approved for your examination, which is one of the final stages before becoming certified.
The final examination to test your abilities as a NCC level counselor is found as either the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examinations (NCMHCE). Prospects must obtain a passing score on either of these tests before completing their certification process through the NBCC. More information about these examinations can be found through the NBCC website.
NCC Career Options
When you have finally received your certification as a NCC, you can move forward to your state’s licensing department to solidify your credentials for future employments. Some people intrigued by this type of licensure might be interested in learning more about what this type of career might look like in the field, especially considering the higher-tier ranking of this certification. If you would like to see more about what types of careers you can pursue once licensed, read more in the sample careers provided by our team of educational experts below.
- Clinical Mental Health Counselor: Obtaining a career as a clinical mental health counselor can introduce you to many different clients in the professional field. In this position, you could work with children that are working through experiences of trauma or neglect, adolescents diagnosed with major depressive disorder, or even adults that are seeking help with chronic anxiety. Some mental health counselors in this field may also work with people diagnosed with serious mental health disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Common settings for employment for this career include mental health facilities, hospitals, and private practice.
- School Counselor: School counselors can be some of the most influential people employed in the school system. On a daily basis, these counselors may work with individual students with problems at home, high school students planning for college, or even planning school-wide events on drug prevention and bullying awareness. School counselors can be important role models for children in an educational setting, since so much change happens during a child’s educational lifeline.
- Addictions Counselor: The current drug crisis in the United States has influenced growth in the field of addiction counseling. Professionals that seek to have a career that can truly change the lives of others can take part in careers that dive deep into addiction within their clients. If you work in this field, you could work with people that have been hospitalized due to their addiction, families that have been displaced due to addiction, or even addicts that are facing criminal charges due to drug use or other criminal activity as a result of their addiction.
- Clinical Services Director: One of the added benefits associated with receiving higher NCC certification and licensure is that you could potentially qualify for higher tier positions in the field of counseling. Some professionals can become leaders in their organizations, responsible for organizing and reviewing services provided to clients in the clinical setting. Clinical services directors can ensure that patients are receiving accurate services and check in to review quality and provide leadership to counselors within their facility.
- Clinical Research Specialist: If your goals as a professional are to improve your field as a whole, you could possibly move into careers that focus on research and improvement in the field of counseling. Clinical research specialists can seek to provide improvement to current counseling techniques, organize new experiments and trials, and even publish their findings in journals focusing on counseling. This career path could be a great option for experience counselors interested in obtaining better paying positions in their field.