Become a Counselor in Alaska
Counselors in Alaska are known as Professional Counselors. Licensure in Alaska as a professional counselor is regulated by the state Board of Professional Counselors. The state 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, and renewal requirements for the professional counseling field, which are examined in detail below, along with salary information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Professional counselor licensure in Alaska requires completion of a 60 semester-credit graduate or doctorate degree in counseling. 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. If graduate degree is not in counseling, it must be in a related field such as psychology, marital and family therapy, social work, and applied behavioral science and applicants must meet equivalency instruction requirements.
For professional counseling licensure in Alaska, instruction must be received in eight of the 10 following subjects:
- Helping Relationships, including Counseling Theory & Practice
- Human Growth & Development
- Lifestyle & Career Development
- Group Dynamics, Processes, Counseling & Consulting
- Assessment, Appraisal & Testing of Individuals
- Social & Cultural Foundation, including Multicultural Issues
- Principles of Etiology, Diagnosis, Treatment Planning & Prevention of Mental and Emotional Disorders and Dysfunctional Behavior
- Marriage & Family Counseling and Therapy
- Research and Evaluation
- Professional Counseling Orientation & Ethics
The Alaska Board of Professional Counselors does not require professional counseling applicants to complete an internship as part of their degree coursework, although supervised experience is required. (See below)
To become a professional counselor in Alaska, applicants require 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.
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 professional counseling licensure in Alaska. This must be obtained within three years of the 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.
Professional Counseling Licensure Application: $200
Professional Counselor License: $650
License Renewal - Professional Counselor: $650 [for completed 30-40 CE hours ]
Prorated License Renewal - Professional Counselor: $325 [for completed 29 and below CE hours]
Professional licensure for counselors must be renewed every two years. Renewal involves submitting the appropriate fees 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 reciprocity licensure to individuals who are licensed in state with similar or exceeding professional counselor requirements with the completion of a 60 semester credit graduate degree in counseling.
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||$25.19||$54,280|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselor||$33.60||$71,630|
|Marriage and Family Therapist||$30.20||$68,230|
|Mental Health Counselor||$30.72||$65,520|
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).
*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.