Become a Counselor in Alabama
Counselors in Alabama are known as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs). Supervision is a required part of LPC licensure, and while under supervision, counselors must be licensed as Associate Licensed Counselors (ALC).
LPC licensure is handled by the Alabama Board of Examiners in Counseling (ABEC), and the Alabama Counseling Association (ALCA) is the state’s largest professional organization for LPCs. Formally founded in 1966 but with roots dating back to 1954, the ALCA was one of the few state organizations that was racially integrated prior to the desegregation movement.
ABEC maintains all of the education, supervision, examination and renewal requirements for LPCs, which are examined in detail below, along with salary information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as scholarships available to aspiring LPCs in Alabama.
LPC licensing requires completion of a master’s degree in counseling with at least 48 graduate semester hours at a regionally accredited college or university. The degree program should be accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs or the Commission on Rehabilitation and Education, or should include equivalent content.
Graduate course work must include instruction in:
- Counseling theory;
- Human growth and development;
- Social and multicultural foundations;
- Philosophic bases of counseling;
- Group dynamics, processing and counseling;
- Lifestyle and career development;
- Appraisal of individuals;
- Research and evaluation;
- Professional orientation;
One-hundred hours of practicum must be taken through a regionally accredited institution. A minimum of 40 hours must be in direct service work with clients appropriate to the program’s focus. At least one-and-a-half hours per week must be under group supervision by program faculty and a minimum of one hour per week under individual supervision.
At least 600 internship hours are also necessary, with a minimum of 240 in direct service work with clients appropriate to the program’s focus. At least two-and-a-half hours per week of the internship should be under group supervision and one hour per week under individual supervision.
LPC licensure requires completion of 3,000 hours of supervised experience in professional counseling. An applicant may subtract 1,000 hours for every 15 graduate semester hours obtained beyond the master’s degree provided that those hours are related to counseling and approved by ABEC. While under supervision, aspiring LPCs must be registered as Associate Licensed Counselors with ABEC.
A passing score on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) is a requirement for LPC licensure. 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.
LPCs in Alabama can expect to pay the following fees for their application, renewal, examination and other licensure expenses:
Fees for LPCs
LPC Application: $200
LPC License: $300
LPC License Renewal: $300
LPC License Reactivation: $50 per Year (Not to Exceed $250)
Fees for ALCs
ALC Application: $200
ALC License: $150
ALC License Renewal: $150
Application Package by Mail: $25
Provisional License: $150
Duplicate or Replacement License: $15
>Written License Verification: $25
Supervising Counselor Approval Processing Fee: $150
LPC licenses must be renewed every two years on July 31. (ALCs must renew their licenses annually.) Failure to renew a license for more than six years will result in the LPC needing to reapply for licensure.
At least 40 hours of formal contact in relevant professional and Continuing Education (CE) experience are required for each two-year renewal. Of those 40 hours, a minimum of six must be devoted to ethical concerns for practice, assessment, supervision or research in counseling. Additionally, at least 75 percent of CE activities must consist of real-time participation in seminars, classes, workshops, presentations, training programs or similar activities. Such real-time participation must involve the LPC’s presence at the location of the activity or use of interactive technology by the LPC for the activity as it occurs.
Ten hours of CE may be obtained by supplying documentation for two of the following activities:
- Service as a counseling seminar, workshop or training conference presenter;
- Publication of peer-reviewed counseling material;
- Therapy received as part of a certification or towards a learning modality that is pre-approved by ABEC and yields a certificate or similar document;
- Service on a counseling board, commission or professional organization (at least 30 hours annually)
All CE must be approved in advance by ABEC or be formal graduate academic coursework, excluding thesis or dissertation credit. Additionally: All CE towards the renewal of a license which has been expired for more than two years must be accrued within the 24 months preceding the renewal request.
Applicants Already Qualified in Other States
Counselors licensed by other states, U.S. territories, the District of Columbia or Puerto Rico may receive LPC licensure from ABEC provided it finds the requirements of their licensure equivalent to its own. In the event that it does not, ABEC may issue a provisional license, which may be renewed for one additional year.
Average Counselor Salary in Alabama
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following types of counselors in Alabama can expect to earn the corresponding average hourly wage and average annual wage:
|Occupation||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Wage|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor||$18.53||$38,540|
|Educational, Guidance, School and Vocational Counselor||$24.43||$50,820|
|Marriage and Family Therapist||$21.05||$43,780|
|Mental Health Counselor||$20.54||$42,720|
Alabama Counseling Scholarships
The following scholarships are available to aspiring LPCs in Alabama:
- Type: Loan Repayment
- Amount: Between $30,000 and $50,000
- Description: 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-time service. A half-time service commitment option is also available.
- Type: Scholarship
- Amount: To be Decided by NAJA
- Description: Applicant must: be working or planning to work directly with children; be pursuing graduate level studies for one year in fields which address the special needs of children and youth, such as counseling; be a U.S. citizen and permanent resident of a state with a Junior Auxiliary Chapter, such as Alabama; and be planning to attend a U.S. college or university for full-time or part-time study.
- 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).