How to Become a Counselor in Washington, D.C.

As in many other states, counselors in Washington, D.C. who have obtained their licensure are known as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs), and those who have yet to complete the supervision portion of the licensure process are known as Licensed Graduate Professional Counselor (LGPCs). The state’s premier professional organizations for LPCs and LGPCs is the District of Columbia Counseling Association, a branch of the American Counseling Association that was founded in 1964 “to provide members with direction, guidance, and information, offering resources and opportunities to assist them in advancing the profession, achieving goals, and realizing potentials.”

Licensure for LPCs and LGPCs in Washington, D.C. is managed by the district’s Board of Professional Counseling, a division of the Washington, D.C. Department of Health. Licensure requirements for counselors in Washington, D.C., including education, supervision, examination, fees, renewal, and “licensure by endorsement,” are examined in further detail below, along with salary information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as scholarships and loan repayment programs available to LPCs and LGPCs in D.C.

Begin your career as an LPC with an online master’s in counseling program:

Sponsored Online Counseling Programs

Northwestern University

The Family Institute at Northwestern University


Master of Arts in Counseling

Earn a CACREP-accredited master’s in counseling online from top-9 ranked1 Northwestern University.

1U.S. News & World Report: 2022 Best National University Rankings 

  • CACREP Accredited
  • Earn your MA in Counseling from Northwestern in as few as 18 months
  • Accelerated full-time, traditional, or part-time tracks available

New York University

NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development


Master of Arts in Counseling and Guidance

Learn more about NYU Steinhardt’s online MA degree that prepares you to become a school counselor in as few as 18 months. Graduates can pursue certification and employment in pre-K–12 schools. Bachelor’s req.

  • Complete in as few as 18 months.
  • Pursue school counselor certification.
  • Study bilingual school counseling (optional). 
  • GRE scores are not required. 

University of Southern California (USC)

USC Rossier School of Education


Master of Education in School Counseling

The University of Southern California Rossier School of Education offers a Master of Education in School Counseling online for aspiring K-12 school counselors. The program can be completed in less than two years and there is no GRE requirement.

  • No GRE required 
  • Prepares you for school counseling credential 
  • Bachelor’s degree required


Counselor Education in Washington, D.C.

Counselor Education in Washington, D.C. (PDF, 88.4 KB) requires the completion of a master’s degree or higher in counseling or a related subject from an institution of higher education accredited by the Secretary of the United States Department of Education and the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation.

Appropriate degree programs will be 60 semester hours in length and include instruction in all of the following core content areas:

  1. Counseling Theory and Practice
  2. Human Growth and Development
  3. Lifestyle and Career Development
  4. Group Counseling
  5. Appraisal, Assessment and Testing of Individuals
  6. Principles of Etiology, Diagnosis, Treatment Planning and Prevention of Mental and Emotional Disorders and Dysfunctional Behavior
  7. Social and Cultural Foundations
  8. Marriage and Family Counseling
  9. Research and Program Evaluation
  10. Professional Orientation and Ethics
  11. Counseling practicum or internship

Internship Requirements

In addition to the coursework listed above, LPC licensure in Washington, D.C. also requires the completion of a counseling internship or practicum. This requirement is distinct from post-graduate supervision, which is also necessary for licensure. (See below for details)

(Back to Top)

Supervision Hours

“Supervision” is shorthand for directed, post-graduate experience in professional counseling under supervision in a work setting. LPC licensure in Washington, D.C. requires the completion of 3,500 hours of supervision in no less than two years and no more than five. At least 200 of those hours must be under the immediate direction of an approved supervisor at a rate of one hour of direction for every 35 hours of practice, with a minimum of 100 hours of individual supervision (as opposed to group supervision).

(Back to Top)


Washington, D.C. LPC licensure (PDF, 70 KB) requires a passing score on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification, a 200-question, multiple-choice examination administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. It assesses knowledge, skills, and abilities in effective counseling services.

(Back to Top)

LPC Licensure Fees

LPCs in Washington, D.C. can expect to pay the following fees for their application, license, renewal, and examination:

LPC Application: $85

LPC Initial License: $145

LPC Biennial License Renewal: $145

LPC License Late Renewal Penalty: $85

(Back to Top)

LPC License Renewal

LPC licenses in Washington, D.C. (PDF, 88.4 KB) expire biennially on December 31 of each even-numbered year. License renewal requires payment of the appropriate fees (see above) and the completion of continuing education.

Continuing Education

Washington, D.C. LPCs are required to complete 40 hours of continuing education (CE) during each two-year renewal period. At least six of these hours must focus on ethics and four on trauma counseling. CE hours may be earned through graduate courses at accredited colleges and universities, seminars and workshops, educational programs at conferences, in-service training, and formally organized learning activities, including distance learning and home study.

(Back to Top)

Additional Information

For Counselors Licensed in Other States

The Washington, D.C. Board of Professional Counseling has an alternative route to licensure for counselors who have already obtained their licenses in other parts of the United States. This process is called “licensure by endorsement” and is delineated on the Washington, D.C. Department of Health website (PDF, 118 KB).

(Back to Top)

Average Counselor Salary in Washington, D.C.

Counselors in Washington, D.C. can expect to earn the following average hourly and annual wages, according to May 2021 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Type of CounselorsAverage Hourly WageAverage Annual Wage
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors
Rehabilitation Counselors
All Other Counselors

(Back to Top)

Washington, D.C. Counseling Scholarships

The following scholarships and loan repayment programs are available to LPCs and LGPCs in Washington, D.C.:

Predoctoral Fellowship in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Program

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: To Be Decided
  • Description: The American Psychological Association (APA), with funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, offers assistance to students enrolled full time in APA-accredited doctoral programs who have a strong commitment to a career in ethnic minority behavioral health services or policy.

Violet and Cyril Franks Scholarship

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: $1,000
  • Description: This award from the American Psychological Foundation is available to one full-time graduate student in good standing at an accredited university who has demonstrated a commitment to stigma issues.

National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program

  • Type: Loan Repayments
  • Amount: Between $25,000 and $100,000
  • Description: Washington, D.C. LPCs and LGPCs are eligible to apply for loan repayment assistance in exchange for working in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) at a site approved by the National Health Service Corps. Funding is tied to HPSA score and is in exchange for two years of full- or half-time service.

Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: To Be Decided
  • Description: The Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students program provides funds to schools, which in turn offer scholarships to full-time, financially needy students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are studying professional counseling, amongst other health professions.

(Back to Top)

*Licensure information including requirements, salaries, renewals, and fees were retrieved as of May 2022. Information may have changed since; check with the state’s board of licensing for more information.

Last Updated: May 2022