Become a Counselor in Alaska
Counselors in Alaska are known as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs). LPC licensure in Alaska is handled by the state Board of Professional Counselors. The local branch of the American Counseling Association is the Alaska Counseling Association (AKCA), whose mission is to “enhance the development of Alaskans throughout their lifespan, primarily by promoting access to the highest possible quality of counseling services.”
The Board of Professional Counselors maintains all of the education, supervision, examination, and renewal requirements for Alaskan 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 Alaska.
LPC licensure in Alaska requires completion of a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling or a related professional field (psychology, marital and family therapy, social work, and applied behavioral science). The degree must be from a regionally or nationally accredited institution of higher education that has been approved by the state Board of Professional Counselors, and a master’s degree must be accompanied by at least 60 graduate semester hours in counseling.
For LPC licensure in Alaska, instruction must be received in eight of the 10 following subjects:
- Counseling theory and practice
- Human growth and development
- Lifestyle and career development
- Group dynamics, processes, counseling, and consulting
- Assessment, appraisal, and testing of individuals
- Social and cultural foundation
- Etiology, diagnosis, treatment planning, and prevention
- Marriage and family counseling
- Research and evaluation
- Professional counseling orientation
The Alaska Board of Professional Counselors does not require LPC applicants to complete an internship as part of their degree coursework, although supervised experience is required. (See below.)
Alaska LPC licensure requires the completion of at least 3,000 hours of supervised experience in professional counseling over a period of at least two years and under the supervision of a Board of Professional Counselors-approved supervisor. This experience must follow the completion of a master’s or doctoral degree and include at least 1,000 hours of direct counseling with individuals, couples, families, or groups as well as a minimum of 100 hours of face-to-face supervision by an approved supervisor. (Face-to-face supervision may be conducted via telephone or other electronic means if the board determines the counselor’s location to be sufficiently remote.)
A passing score on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE), the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE), or another equivalent, nationally recognized examination for professional counselors is required for LPC licensure in Alaska. This must be obtained within three years of the LPC application.
National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification
The NCE is a 200-question multiple-choice examination administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). It assesses knowledge, skills, and abilities in effective counseling services.
The National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam
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 NBCC.
LPCs in Alaska can expect to pay the following fees for their application, renewal, examination, and other licensure expenses:
LPC Application: $125
LPC License: $400
National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification: $195
National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination: $195
LPC License Renewal: $400
LPC Prorated License Renewal: $200
Alaskan LPC licenses must be renewed every two years. Renewal involves submitting the appropriate fees (see above) and completing an application available on the state Board of Professional Counselors website, which includes a statement of Continuing Education contact hours.
Continuing Education (CE) requirements must be completed within the two years preceding the renewal date and must be offered by Board of Professional Counselors-approved providers. The number of hours required differs according to the license:
- First-time renewals for licenses held for less than 12 months: 20 hours
- First-time renewals for licenses held between 12 and 18 months: 30 hours
- All other renewals: 40 hours
One CE “contact hour” is considered to be a minimum of 50 minutes of classroom instruction. Board-approved courses, seminars, and workshops may designate their own CE units, which are equivalent to contact hours. Otherwise, academic credits will convert to contact hours as follows:
- One semester academic credit: 15 hours
- One quarter academic credit: 10 hours
No more than half of the total number of the required CE hours can be earned through correspondence, videotape, audio cassette, or other individual-study programs.
Applicants Already Credentialed in Other States
The Alaska Board of Professional Counselors will issue an LPC license without examination to applicants who hold a current license to practice professional counseling in another jurisdiction that has requirements for licensure that meet or supersede its own. For more details on licensure by credential, see the Board’s website.
Average Counselor Salary in Alaska
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following types of counselors in Alaska 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||$23.41||$48,690|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselor||$32.63||$67,870|
|Marriage and Family Therapist||$21.37||$44,450|
|Mental Health Counselor||$27.43||$57,040|
Alaska Counseling Scholarships
The following scholarships are available to aspiring LPCs in Alaska:
- Type: Tuition Waivers
- Amount: Between $500 and Full Tuition
- Description: Full and partial tuition waivers are being offered by AkSCA to Alaska Career College, Alaska Vocational and Technical School, University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Alaska Pacific University. Nominations must be made by current AkSCA members for graduates of Alaskan high schools who are enrolled in full-time post-secondary education.
- Type: Grants and Scholarships
- Amount: Varies According to Scholarship
- Description: The Pride Foundation offers residents of the Northwest, including Alaska, who are pursuing post-secondary education anywhere in the world to apply to more than 50 scholarships through one application. Preference is given to students who self-identify as LGBTQ, are members of LGBTQ families, or have been strongly supportive of the LGBTQ community.
- 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 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).