How to Become a Counselor in Hawaii

In Hawaii, counselors are known as Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs). The state’s premier professional association for LMHCs is the Hawaii Counselors Association, which is “committed to promoting statewide professionalism among counselors and ensuring the use of best practices in counseling.”

LMHC licensure in Hawaii is managed by the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Professional and Vocational Licensing Division. Licensure requirements, including those for education, supervision, examination, fees, and renewal, are examined in further detail below, along with salary information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as public and private scholarships available to Hawaiian LMHCs in training.

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Counselor Education in Hawaii

To become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in Hawaii, applicants must complete a master’s degree in counseling or an allied field from an accredited educational institution. LMHC licensure in Hawaii also accepts a doctoral degree within the same subjects.

The degree program must be at least 48 semester hours of graduate-level coursework in counseling covering each of the following content areas for a minimum of three semester hours:

  1. Human Growth and Development
  2. Social and Cultural Foundations
  3. Counseling Theories and Applications
  4. Group Theory and Practice
  5. Career and Lifestyle Development
  6. Appraisal of Human Behavior
  7. Tests and Measurements
  8. Research and Program Evaluation
  9. Professional Orientation and Ethics

Internship Requirements

In addition to the content areas listed above, Hawaiian LMHC applicants must complete at least two academic terms of supervised mental health practicum/internship experience for graduate credit of at least three semester hours per academic term in a mental health counseling setting. This practicum/internship must include at least 300 hours of supervised client contact and be completed under the clinical supervision of an LMHC, psychologist, clinical social worker, advanced practice registered nurse with a specialty in mental health, marriage and family therapist, or physician with a specialty in psychiatry. This practicum/internship is distinct from the post-degree, directed experience commonly referred to as “supervision.”

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Supervision Hours

“Supervision” is shorthand for post-degree, directed experience in professional counseling under supervision in a work setting, which is a requirement for LMHC licensure in Hawaii. At least 3,000 hours of post-graduate experience must be completed in two to four years for licensure. Of those hours, 100 must be face-to-face clinical supervision under an LMHC, psychologist, clinical social worker, advanced practice registered nurse with a specialty in mental health, marriage and family therapist, or physician with a specialty in psychiatry.

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Licensure as a counselor in Hawaii requires a passing score on the National Counselors Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE). The NCE is a 200-question multiple-choice examination administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. It assesses knowledge, skills, and abilities in effective counseling services.

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LMHC Licensure Fees

Professional counseling licensure can accrue the following fees for application, renewal and other licensure expenses:

LMHC Application: $60

LMHC License: $213

Compliance Resolution Fund (Prorated): $43-$129

LMHC Renewal (Prorated): $43-$102

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LMHC License Renewal

LMHC licenses in Hawaii expire triennially on June 30. License renewal requires payment of the appropriate renewal fees. Unlike many other states, there is no continuing education requirement for a Hawaiian LMHC license renewal.

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Average Counselor Salary in Hawaii

The following types of counselors in Hawaii can expect to earn the corresponding average hourly and annual wages, according to the May 2021 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

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

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Hawaii Counseling Scholarships

The following scholarships are available to aspiring LMHCs in Hawaii:

Hawaii Community Foundation Scholarship

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: Varies According to Award
  • Description: Hawaii Community Foundation offers a number of scholarships, each with their own particular eligibility, but general criteria include Hawaiian residency, financial need, attendance at a two- or four-year college or university in the United States as a full-time undergraduate or graduate student, and a minimum GPA of 2.7.
  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: Varies According to Award
  • Description: OHA, a public agency responsible for improving the well-being of Native Hawaiians, offers two scholarships with similar requirements: verified Hawaiian ancestry, Hawaiian or continental U.S. residency, financial need, full-time or part-time enrollment at an accredited two- or four-year college as an undergraduate or graduate student, GPA of at least 2.0 (undergraduate) or 3.0 (graduate), and good academic standing. 
  • Type: Loan Repayment
  • Amount: Between $30,000 and $50,000
  • Description: Hawaiian LMHCs 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-time service. A half-time service commitment option is also available.
  • Type: Scholarship
  • Amount: To Be Decided by School
  • 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).

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

Last Updated: June 2022