How to Become a Counselor in North Carolina

As in many other states, counselors in North Carolina who have obtained their licensure are known as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs), while those who have yet to complete the supervision portion of the licensure process are called Licensed Professional Counselor Associates (LPCAs).

The state’s premier professional organizations for LPCs and LPCAs is the North Carolina Counseling Association. Licensure for LPCs in New York is managed by the state’s Board of Licensed Professional Counselors. Licensure requirements for counselors in North Carolina, 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 in the state.

Counselor Education in North Carolina

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North Carolina LPC licensure requires the completion of a master’s degree in counseling from a regionally accredited institution of higher education.

Appropriate degree programs will be 60 semester hours of graduate-level coursework, with three semester hours in each of the following core content areas:

  1. Helping Relationships
  2. Professional Orientation to Counseling
  3. Human Growth and Development Theories
  4. Social and Cultural Foundations
  5. Group Counseling Theories
  6. Career Counseling and Lifestyle Development
  7. Assessment in Counseling
  8. Research and Program Evaluation

Internship Requirements

In addition to the coursework listed above, LPC licensure in North Carolina also requires the completion of one-semester practicum and a one-semester internship. These must consist of at least 300 hours of counseling experience, with at least 17 hours of supervision at a rate of one hour of supervision for each hour of experience. Direct client contact hours must equate to 180 hours of the total 300. This requirement is distinct from post-graduate supervision, which is also necessary for licensure.

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Supervision Hours

Supervision is shorthand for directed, post-graduate experience in professional counseling under supervision in a work setting. Licensed professional counselor associates (LPCA) in North Carolina are required to complete 3,000 hours of supervision, with 2,000 hours of client contact and 100 hours of direction from an approved supervisor — of which 75 hours must be one-on-one.

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Examinations

North Carolina LPC licensure requires a passing score on either the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification, the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam or the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Exam. Additionally, aspiring LPCs in North Carolina must also pass the Jurisprudence Exam.

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.

National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam (NCMHCE)

The NCMHCE tests knowledge of assessment, diagnosis, counseling, psychotherapy, administration, consultation and supervision. It consists of 10 clinical mental health counseling cases and assesses clinical problem-solving ability by testing identification, analysis and treatment. It is also administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors.

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.

Jurisprudence Exam

The Jurisprudence Exam is a no-fail test on the laws impacting the counseling profession. It reflects any legislative changes as well as statutes that have been referenced in ethical complaints processed by the North Carolina Board of Licensed Professional Counselors. It is administered online by the Center for Credentialing & Education.

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LPC and LPCA Licensure Fees

LPCs in North Carolina can expect to pay the following fees for their license application, renewal and examination:

LPC/LPCA License Application: $200

LPC License Biennial Renewal: $200

Jurisprudence Exam: $45

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LPC License Renewal

North Carolina LPC licenses expire on June 30 two years after being issued. License renewal requires completion of the renewal form, Ethics Attestation Statement and Professional Disclosure Statement, and payment of renewal fees. Continuing education hours must also be obtained, although documentation is not required for the renewal application.

Continuing Education

LPCs in North Carolina are required to complete 40 hours of continuing education (CE) during each renewal period. For new licensees with a renewal term of less than two full years, only 30 hours are required. A minimum of three CE hours must be in ethics, although the mandatory Jurisprudence Exam accounts for five hours of ethics CE. One CE Unit is equivalent to 10 CE hours, and one semester hour of credit is equal to 15.

Approved providers of CE include the American Counseling Association, American Association of State Counseling Boards, National Board for Certified Counselors and Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. Activities sponsored by the following organizations may also count towards CE, although any one cannot provide more than 15 hours each renewal term:

  • American Association of Christian Counselors
  • American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy
  • American Psychological Association
  • Employee Assistance Certification Commission
  • International Association of Employee Assistance Professional in Education
  • National Area Health Education Center Organization
  • Association for Addiction Professionals
  • National Association of Pastoral Counseling and Psychotherapy
  • National Association of Social Workers
  • National Rehabilitation Association

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Additional Information

For Counselors Licensed in Other States

The North Carolina Board of Licensed Professional Counselors has an alternative route to licensure for counselors who have already earned their licenses in other parts of the United States. This process is called “licensure by endorsement”. Out-of-state applicants must provide proof of a minimum of five years of full-time or eight years of part-time counseling experience, have at least 2,500 hours of direct client contact, and have a full license that does not require supervision.

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Average Counselor Salary in North Carolina

North Carolina Counselors can expect to earn the following average hourly and average annual wages, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Average Counselor Salary in North Carolina
Type of Counselor Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors $21.39 $44,480
Educational, Guidance, School and Vocational Counselors $23.27 $48,400
Marriage and Family Therapists $25.45 $50,860
Mental Health Counselors $23.21 $48,280
Rehabilitation Counselors $18.28 $38,020
All Other Counselors $24.88 $51,750

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North Carolina Counseling Scholarships

The following scholarships and loan repayment programs are available to LPCs in North Carolina:

North Carolina School Counselor Association Graduate Student Scholarships

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: To be Decided
  • Description: The North Carolina School Counselor Association offers awards to current and aspiring school counselors who wish to pursue graduate education.

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 and who have a strong commitment to a career in ethnic minority behavioral health services.

Violet and Cyril Franks Scholarship

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: $5,000
  • Description: This award from the American Psychological Foundation is available each year to one full-time graduate student in good standing at an accredited university who has demonstrated a commitment to stigma issues.

American Addiction Centers’ Behavioral Health Academic Scholarship Program

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: $2,500 to $5,000
  • Description: American Addiction Centers offers three scholarships providing financial assistance to full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students pursuing careers in behavioral 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: North Carolina LPCs 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.

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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.