How to Become a Counselor in South Carolina

State of South Carolina

As in many other states, licensed counselors in South Carolina are known as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs), and aspiring counselors in the supervision portion of the licensure process are known as Licensed Professional Counselor Interns (LPCIs). The state’s premier professional organization for LPCs and LPCIs is the South Carolina Counseling Association, whose mission is to “enhance human development and to advance the counseling and human development profession.

Licensure for South Carolina LPCs is managed by the state Board of Examiners for Licensure of Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Psycho-Educational Specialists, a division of the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Licensure requirements for counselors in South 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 South Carolina

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Licensure as a professional counselor in South Carolina requires the completion of a master’s or doctoral degree of at least 48 graduate semester hours in counseling or a related discipline from a college or university accredited by the Commission on the Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada or one of their regional associations.

Appropriate degree programs will include at least one three-hour graduate level course in each of the following core content areas:

  1. Human growth and development
  2. Social and cultural foundations
  3. Helping relationships
  4. Groups
  5. Lifestyle and career development
  6. Appraisal
  7. Research and evaluation
  8. Professional orientation
  9. Psychopathology
  10. Diagnostics
  11. Practicum

Internship Requirements

In addition to the coursework listed above, South Carolina LPC licensure also requires the completion of a 150 hour practicum. In order for Licensed Professional Counselor Interns to assess and treat serious mental health problems, individuals should have completed an internship as a part of their graduate degree program of at least 600 hours. Experience in these hours should be supervised and include assessment and treatment of clients with serious concerns as designated by the standard diagnostic literature. These are distinct requirements 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. South Carolina requires Licensed Professional Counselor Interns (LPCI) to complete a minimum of 1,500 hours of supervision in no less than two years. This must include 1,500 hours of direct client contact and a minimum of 150 hours of direction from an approved supervisor, of which at least 100 hours must be individual supervision (as opposed to group supervision). A supervision plan must also be submitted to the South Carolina Board of Examiners for Licensure of Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Psycho-Educational Specialists.

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Examinations

South Carolina LPC licensure requires a passing score on a board accepted examination -  either the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam or the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor 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 assess 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.

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LPC Licensure Fees

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

LPC Intern Application: $150

LPC Application: $200

LPC Intern and LPC License Renewal: $200

LPC License Renewal Late Penalty: $50

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LPC License Renewal

LPC licenses expire biennially in South Carolina. License renewal requires payment of the appropriate fees and the completion of continuing education.

Continuing Education

LPCs in South Carolina are required to complete 40 hours of continuing education (CE) during each two-year renewal period. All formal CE activities must be sponsored by a professional counselor certifying body, National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors, South Carolina Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors or other body approved by the South Carolina Board of Examiners for Licensure of Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Psycho-Educational Specialists. Informal CE activities include: presentations of papers, workshops and seminars, publications in referred journals, preparation of course material and completion of self-study materials.

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Additional Information

For Counselors Licensed in Other States

The South Carolina Board of Examiners for Licensure of Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Psycho-Educational Specialists has an alternative route to licensure for counselors who have already obtained their licenses in other states. This process is called “licensure by endorsement”. Out-of-state applicants must hold a current license issues from their originating board and submit an application to be approved by the South Carolina board of licensing.

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Average Counselor Salary in South Carolina

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

Average Counselor Salary in South Carolina
Type of Counselor Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors $17.29 $35,970
Guidance, School and Vocational Counselors $24.68 $51,330
Marriage and Family Therapists $19.95 $41,500
Mental Health Counselors $21.18 $44,050
Rehabilitation Counselors $14.95 $31,090

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South Carolina Counseling Scholarships

The following scholarships and loan repayment programs are available to South Carolina LPCs and LPCIs:

Violet and Cyril Franks Scholarship

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: $5,000
  • 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.

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 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: LPCs in South Carolina 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, 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.