Become a Counselor in Colorado
Counselors in Colorado are known as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs). While under supervision—a requirement for LPC licensure in Colorado—counselors are known as Provisional Licensed Professional Counselors.
Colorado’s largest professional association for LPCs is the Colorado Counseling Association. LPC licensure in Colorado is handled by the State Board of Licensed Professional Counselor Examiners, which maintains all of the requirements for education, supervision, examination, and renewal. Licensure details are examined further below, along with salary information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as public and private scholarships available to aspiring LPCs in Colorado.
LPC licensure in Colorado requires the completion of a master’s or doctoral degree or in professional counseling or an equivalent subject. This program should be at least 60 semester credit hours and be approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Candidates who graduated from a non-CACREP-approved program must have their educational credentials evaluated by a credentialing agency approved by the State Board of Licensed Professional Counselor Examiners.
In order to qualify for Colorado LPC licensure, the master’s- or doctoral-level study must be obtained from a regionally accredited institution of higher learning and include two or more graduate semester hours in each of the following content areas:
- Human growth and development
- Social and cultural foundations
- Helping relationships
- Lifestyles and career development
- Research and evaluation
- Professional orientation
The Colorado State Board of Licensed Professional Counselor Examiners does not require LPC applicants to have completed an internship as part of their degree program—although they do require post-graduate experience. For more information, see “Supervision” below.
Aspiring LPCs in Colorado must complete a number of hours of post-degree practice in psychotherapy under supervision from an LPC, licensed clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, or psychologist. As previously noted, aspiring LPCs under supervision are known as Provisional Licensed Professional Counselors.
The required number of supervision hours hinges on the Provisional LPC’s degree in professional counseling:
- For master’s degree holders: at least 2,000 hours of supervision distributed over two years
- For doctoral degree holders: at least 1,000 hours of supervision distributed over one year
For each 1,000 hours of supervised practice, the applicant must receive at least 50 hours of supervision—of which a minimum of 35 must be face to face. The remaining may be group supervision.
LPC licensure in Colorado requires a passing score on the State Board of Licensed Professional Counselor Examiners' developed jurisprudence examination, as well as an examination administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors, such as the National Counselor Examination for Licensure or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam.
This online test is an open-book examination made up of multiple-choice questions on general mental health statutes, confidentiality and privilege, prohibited activities/violations, board rules, emergency procedures, and disciplinary provisions/proceedings.
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.
LPCs in Colorado can expect to pay the following fees for their application, renewal, examination, and other licensure expenses:
LPC Application: $70
Provisional LPC Application: $70
Colorado Mental Health Jurisprudence Examination: $18
National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification: $195
National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination: $195
LPC License Renewal: $130
Provisional LPC License Renewal: $113
Late Renewal Fee: $15
All Colorado LPC licenses expire on August 31 of odd-numbered years. LPCs have a 60-day grace period following the expiration to renew it, although they will be subject to a delinquency fee (see above).
License renewal involves submitting the appropriate fees (again, see above) as well as documentation regarding Continuing Professional Development, commonly called Continuing Education.
License renewal requires the completion of 40 professional development hours (PDH) each cycle, with no more than 20 PDH in a single Professional Development Activity. These activities may include volunteer service, mentor/supervision, presenting, coursework, independent learning, and group learning. Besides documentation of their Professional Development Activity, LPCs’ Continuing Professional Development portfolios should include professional practice surveys and learning plans.
The State Board of Licensed Professional Counselors has an alternative route to licensure for counselors who have already obtained their professional counseling licenses in other states. This process is known as “licensure by endorsement” and is delineated by Rule 12 in the Colorado Professional Counselor Rules.
Average Counselor Salary in Colorado
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following types of counselors in Colorado 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||$19.54||$40,640|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselor||$22.52||$46,840|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$23.09||$48,020|
|Mental Health Counselor||$21.06||$43,800|
|All Other Counselors||$28.79||$59,870|
Colorado Counseling Scholarships
The following scholarships are available to aspiring LPCs in Colorado:
- Type: Loan Repayment
- Amount: Between $25,000 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 Colorado Health Service Corps. Funding is tied to HPSA score and is in exchange for three years of full-time or part-time service.
- Type: Scholarship
- Amount: $300 to $3,000
- Description: The Alexander Foundation awards scholarships to provide financial assistance to those seeking an undergraduate or graduate degree of higher education from an accredited institution in Colorado. Selection is based on merit, need, and service to the LGBT community. The recipient must be LGBT, be a Colorado resident, and demonstrate financial need.
- 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).