Become a Counselor in Arizona
As in many other states, counselors in Arizona are known as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC). While practicing under supervision, counselors are referred to as Licensed Associate Counselors (LAC).
Arizona’s largest professional association for LPCs is the Arizona Counselors Association. LPC licensure in the state is provided by the Arizona State Board of Behavioral Health Examiners, which maintains all of the requirements for education, supervision, examination, and renewal. Those details are examined further below, along with salary information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as scholarships available to aspiring LPCs in Arizona.
An application for licensed associate counselor in Arizona requires the completion of a master’s degree or higher in counseling or a related field, such as psychology, marriage and family studies, substance abuse, or rehabilitation studies. The degree must be offered by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE), or provided in a board approved curriculum.
In order to qualify for LAC and LPC licensure in Arizona, the degree program must consist of a minimum of 60 semester credit hours, with coursework from each of the following content areas:
- Professional Orientation & Ethical Practice
- Social & Cultural Diversity
- Human Growth & Development
- Career Development
- Helping Relationship
- Group Work
- Research & Program Evaluation
- Supervised Counseling Practicum
Professional counseling licensure in Arizona requires an internship, also known as a practicum. The practicum must include 700 clock hours in a professional counseling setting. Direct client contact hours must equal 240 of the 7000 cumulative hours. Practicum experiences must provide the student with the opportunity to perform all activities expected of a regularly employed professional counselor. It must also be under the supervision of a faculty member and onsite supervisor approved by the college or university.
After earning their degree, aspiring LACs in Arizona must complete at least 3,200 hours of supervised counseling experience in no less than two years. Of those hours, a minimum of 1,600 must be in direct client contact and 100 should be under clinical supervision. This supervision must be offered by an LPC, licensed clinical social worker, licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed psychologist, or allopathic or osteopathic medical doctor with a specialty in psychiatry.
LPC licensure in Arizona requires a passing score on an examination offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors: the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam — or by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification: 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 (NBCC). It assesses knowledge, skills, and abilities in effective counseling services.
The 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 NBCC.
The 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.
Applicants seeking licensure in Arizona as a professional counselor can expect to pay the following fees for their application, renewal, examination, and other licensure expenses:
Application by Examination/Endorsement: $250
Licensed Association Counselor Issuance: $100
Licensed Professional Counselor Application: $250
Application for Temporary License: $50
Fingerprint Background Check: $40
License Renewal: $350
Late Renewal: $100
Inactive Status Request: $100
Duplicate License: $25
Arizona licensure for professional counseling must be renewed every two years. Renewal involves submitting the appropriate fees, completion of 30 continuing education credits, and a completed application available on the state Board of Behavioral Health Examiners website.
For license renewal, Arizona LPCs must complete 30 clock hours of continuing education (CE). All CE activities must relate to the scope of professional counseling. The credentialing committee will determine whether these activities meet the goal of maintaining or improving the skills and competency of LPCs. A maximum of 10 CE hours may be reported from first-time presentations made by the LPC that deal with current developments, skills, procedures, or treatments related to behavioral health. Six hours, at most, may be reported for attendance at Board of Behavioral Health Examiners meetings or credentialing committee meetings, and 10 hours for service on such.
For Applicants Already Licensed in Other States
The Arizona State Board of Behavioral Health Examiners can issue a professional counseling licensure “by endorsement” 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 endorsement, see the Arizona State Board of Behavioral Health Examiners.
Average Counselor Salary in Arizona
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following types of counselors in Arizona can expect to earn the corresponding average hourly wage and average annual wage:Occupation
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor||$18.55||$40,590|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselor||$22.38||$51,940|
|Marriage and Family Therapist||$22.01||$65,440|
|Mental Health Counselor||$22.50||$46,180|
Arizona Counseling Scholarships
The following scholarships are available to aspiring LPCs in Arizona:
- Type: Scholarship
- Amount: $500
- Description: The Mental Health Awareness Coalition Scholarship is for individuals who want to further their higher education or pursue other specialized programs. One recipient will be chosen for each available scholarship by the members of the coalition.
- Type: Scholarship
- Amount: $1,000
- Description: Each year, AzSCA awards a $1,000 scholarship to three high school seniors and one school counseling graduate student.
- 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.