How to Become a Counselor in Maryland

State of Maryland

As in some other states, counselors in Maryland who have completed their licensure are known as Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors (LCPCs). Those who remain in the supervision portion of the licensure process are known as Licensed Graduate Professional Counselors. The premier professional organization for LCPCs in the state is the Maryland Counseling Association, a branch of the American Counseling Association whose mission is to “promote public confidence and trust in the counseling profession and to influence policies that affect professional counselors and the welfare of the diverse clients they serve.”

Licensure for LCPCs in Maryland is managed by the state Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists, a division of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Licensure requirements for counselors in Maryland, including those relating to education, supervision, examination, fees, renewal, and “licensure by waiver,” 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 LCPCs in the state.

Counselor Education in Maryland

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Becoming a professional counselor in Maryland requires the completion of a master’s degree in counseling or a related field, or a doctorate from an accredited institution approved by state Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists.

The master’s degree program must be at least 60 graduate semester credit hours, and the doctoral degree must be at least 90. Both should include a minimum of three graduate semester credit hours in each of the following content areas:

  1. Human growth and personality development
  2. Social and cultural foundations of counseling
  3. Counseling theory
  4. Counseling techniques
  5. Group dynamics, processing, and counseling
  6. Lifestyle and career development
  7. Appraisal
  8. Research and evaluation
  9. Professional, legal, and ethical responsibilities
  10. Marriage and family therapy
  11. Alcohol and drug counseling
  12. Supervised field experience
  13. Diagnosis and psychopathology
  14. Psychotherapy and treatment of mental and emotional disorders

Internship Requirements

Supervised field experience, which may take the form of an internship or practicum must include at least 125 hours of face-to-face client counseling. This requirement is distinct from post-graduate supervision, also a requirement for LCPC licensure in Maryland.

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Supervision Hours

“Supervision” is shorthand for post-degree, directed experience in professional counseling under supervision in a work setting. Maryland requires aspiring LCPCs to complete a number of supervision hours respective to their degree:

Master’s Degree: Three years with at least 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience in professional counseling under an approved supervisor. Of those three years, two must be post-degree.

Doctoral Degree: Two years with at least 2,000 hours of supervised clinical experience in professional counseling. Of those 2,000 hours, at least 1,000 must be post-degree.

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Examination

LCPC licensure in Maryland requires a passing score on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification and the Maryland Law Test.

National Counselor 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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LCPC Licensure Fees

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

LCPC Application: $200

LCPC License: $150

LCPC Renewal: $311 (including $36 fee to Maryland Health Care Commission)

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LCPC License Renewal

LCPC licenses in Maryland expire every two years. License renewal requires payment of the appropriate renewal fee and completion of continuing education.

Continuing Education

LCPCs in Maryland must complete at least 40 hours of continuing education (CE) in professional counseling during the two-year renewal period to successfully renew their licenses. Of those 40 hours, at least 30 must be in “Category A” activities. Category A activities consist of attending a course, workshop, seminar, or symposium, and authoring, editing, or reviewing a juried publication. “Category B” activities can make up 10 hours of CE and include attending or presenting informal courses, in-house colloquia, invited speaker sessions, in-house seminars, and case conferences specifically designed for training. Individualized learning activities, such as receiving formal supervision and participating in distance-learning programs, are also considered Category B.

Maryland Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists-approved sponsors of CE include the American Counseling Association, National Board for Certified Counselors, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors, International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, and all of their affiliates.

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Additional Information

For Counselors Licensed in Other States

The Maryland Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists has an alternative route to licensure for counselors who have already obtained their licenses in other states. This process is called “licensure by waiver”.  Applicants must be certified professional counselors who have earned a master’s or doctoral degree and provide evidence of 3 years of full-time clinical experience.

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Average Counselor Salary in Maryland

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

Average Counselor Salary in Maryland
Type of Counselor Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor $22.20 $46,170
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselor $30.40 $63,230
Marriage and Family Therapists $23.81 $49,520
Mental Health Counselor $20.53 $42,690
Rehabilitation Counselor $18.55 $38,570

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Maryland Counseling Scholarships

The following scholarships and loan repayment programs are available to aspiring LCPCs and LGPCs in Maryland: 

Richard Louis Caplan Memorial Scholarship for the Advancement of Personality Disorder Treatment

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: $5,000
  • Description: Central Scholarship administers this award for master’s and doctoral students aspiring to advance the field of mental health. Specific criteria include a track record of dedication in the clinical treatment of patients with personality disorders, U.S. citizenship or legal permanent resident status, cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, adjusted gross income of less than $91,000, and Maryland residency.

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 behavior health and addiction-related studies, including counseling.

National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program

  • Type: Loan Repayments
  • Amount: Between $30,000 and $50,000
  • Description: Maine LCPCs 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.

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).

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*Licensure information including requirements, salaries, renewals, and fees were retrieved as of May 2017. Information may have changed since, check with the state's board of licensing for more information.