How to Become a Counselor in Illinois

Counselors in Illinois can go by two different titles corresponding to their professional status: Those who have completed the standard licensure process are Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs), and those who continued their education and further developed their clinical skills are Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors (LCPCs). The premier professional organization for both LPCs and LCPCs is the Illinois Counseling Association, whose mission is “to enhance the quality of life in society by promoting the development of professional counselors, advancing the counseling profession, and using the profession and practice of counseling to promote respect for human dignity and diversity.”

Licensure for counselors in Illinois is managed by the state Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Licensure requirements for counselors in Illinois, including those relating to 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 aspiring LPCs and LCPCs in the state.

Counselor Education in Illinois

Professional counselor licensure in Illinois requires the completion of a master’s degree in counseling or doctorate degree in counseling from a regionally accredited institution of higher education recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The degree program must be at least two academic years in length of a minimum of 48 semester hours.

Appropriate degree programs will consist of at least one course of three semester hours (or equivalent) in each of the following 13 content areas:

  1. Human Growth and Development
  2. Counseling Theory
  3. Counseling Techniques
  4. Group Dynamics, Processing, and Counseling
  5. Appraisal of Individuals
  6. Research and Evaluation
  7. Professional, Legal, and Ethical Responsibilities Relating to Professional Counseling, Including Illinois Law
  8. Social and Cultural Foundations
  9. Lifestyle and Career Development
  10. Practicum/Internship
  11. Psychopathology and Maladaptive Behavior
  12. Substance Abuse
  13. Family Dynamics

Internship Requirements

In addition to the practicum/internship listed above, LPC applicants in Illinois must complete a one-year residency as part of their degree program. This residency requires interaction with faculty and other matriculated students, and is defined as 24 semester hours on a full- or part-time basis throughout the course of study.

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Supervision Hours

“Supervision” is shorthand for post-degree, directed experience in professional counseling under supervision in a work setting. A maximum of 1680 hours obtained in no less than 48 weeks is required for professional licensure as a counselor in Illinois. Of these hours, 980 of them must be direct face-to-face experience.

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As a requirement, licensure as a professional counselor in Illinois involves a passing score on either the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification or the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Examination.

National Counselor Examination (NCE) for Licensure and Certification

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.

The Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) Exam

The CRC Exam consists of 175 multiple-choice questions across 10 subjects underlying rehabilitation counseling. One portion of the exam tests knowledge regarding counseling, while the other pertains to rehabilitation and disability issues. It is administered by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification.

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LPC and LCPC Licensure Fees

LPCs and LCPCs in Illinois can expect to pay the following fees for their application, renewal, and examination:

LPC/LCPC Application: $150

LPC/LCPC License Renewal: $60

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LPC License Renewal

LPC licenses in Illinois expire biennially on March 31 of each odd-numbered year. License renewal requires payment of the appropriate renewal fee (see above) and completion of continuing education.

Continuing Education (CE)

LPCs in Illinois must complete 30 hours of CE during the 24-month license period to successfully renew their licenses. All clinical professional counselors must complete 18 hours of clinical supervision training of their 30 CE hours. This is a one time requirement.

CE may be earned through completion of correspondence courses (a maximum of 15 hours per renewal period), post-graduate training programs, or professional counseling courses. Additionally, LPCs may teach counseling, author work on the subject, supervise aspiring LPCs, and serve in a leadership position within counseling organizations to fulfill their CE requirements. All CE must be provided by approved sponsors, such as the National Board for Certified Counselors, American Counseling Association, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, Employee Assistance Professional Association, Employee Assistance Society of North America, or American Psychological Association.

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Additional Information

For Counselors Licensed in Other States

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has an alternative route to licensure for counselors who have already obtained their professional counseling licenses in other states. This process is known as “licensure by endorsement” and is delineated on the Department’s website.

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Average Counselor Salary in Illinois

The following types of counselors in Illinois can expect to earn the corresponding average hourly and annual wages, according to the 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

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Illinois Counseling Scholarships

The following scholarships and loan repayment programs are available to aspiring LPCs and LCPCs in Illinois:

American Addiction Centers’ Behavioral Health Academic Scholarship Program

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: $2,500 to $5,000
  • Description: American Addiction Centers offers three scholarships to provide financial assistance to full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate school students pursuing careers in behavioral health and addiction-related studies, including counseling.

Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students

  • Type: Scholarships
  • 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).

National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program

  • Type: Loan Repayment
  • Amount: Between $25,000 and $100,000
  • Description: LPCs and LCPCs in Illinois 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.

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

Last Updated: May 2022