Become a Counselor in Georgia
As in many other states, counselors in Georgia are known as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs). The state’s premier professional association for LPCs is the Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia, which “raises public awareness about mental health issues and the role of LPCs, promotes ethical and professional standards for practice and licensure, and provides training and networking for its members.”
LPC licensure in Georgia is facilitated by the state Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists. Licensure requirements, including those for education, supervision, examination, and renewal, are examined in further detail 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 Georgia.
LPC licensure in Georgia requires the completion of a master’s, specialist, or doctoral degree focusing on counseling or applied psychology, which is also accredited by a regional body recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Alternatively, a rehabilitation counseling program accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education is acceptable. After September 30, 2018, the degree program may also be accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.
The degree program in counseling or applied psychology must include coursework in counseling/psychotherapy theory and six of the following nine content areas:
- Human growth and development
- Multicultural counseling or diversity training
- Counseling techniques or skills
- Group dynamics and group counseling/psychotherapy
- Lifestyle and career development
- Appraisal/assessment of individuals
- Research methods and evaluation
- Professional orientation and ethics
Following September 30, 2018, the degree program must cover all nine of the above content areas.
In addition to the coursework listed above, LPC applicants in Georgia should complete a counseling or applied psychology practicum or internship as part of their graduate degree program. To qualify, the course instructor of record or the on-site clinical instructor must be a qualified supervisor; alternatively, in the education of rehabilitation counselors, the instructor may be a certified rehabilitation counselor. This practicum or internship is distinct from the post-degree directed experience under supervision (see below).
“Supervision” is shorthand for post-degree, directed experience in professional counseling under supervision in a work setting acceptable to the Board, which is a requirement for LPC licensure in Georgia. While under supervision, LPCs-to-be are known as Associate Professional Counselors (APCs). The number of years of supervision required for Georgia LPC licensure differs according to the counseling degree obtained by the APC:
- Master’s Degree: four years (three if a supervised counseling practicum or internship of at least 300 hours was part of the degree program), with a minimum of two years under the supervision of an LPC
- Specialist Degree: three years (two if a supervised counseling practicum or internship of at least 300 hours was part of the degree program), with a minimum of one year under the supervision of an LPC
- Doctoral Degree: one year (zero if a supervised counseling practicum or internship was part of the degree program), with a minimum of half a year under the supervision of an LPC
- Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Degree: three years (two if a supervised counseling practicum or internship of at least 300 hours was part of the degree program), with a minimum of one year under the supervision of a certified rehabilitation counselor or LPC
- Master’s Degree in Psychology: four years (three if a supervised practicum or internship of at least 300 hours was part of the degree program), with at least two years under the supervision of an LPC or licensed psychologist
Prior to October 1, 2017, LPC licensure in Georgia requires a passing score on either the National Counselors Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). Beginning October 1, 2017, APC and LPC licensure will require a passing score on the NCE and the NCMHCE respectively.
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.
National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination
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 Georgia can expect to pay the following fees for their application, renewal, examination, and other licensure expenses:
LPC/APC Application: $100
LPC/APC Renewal: $100
LPC/APC Late Renewal: $150
National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification: $195
National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination: $195
Georgia LPC licenses expire biennially on each even-numbered year. License renewal requires payment of the appropriate renewal fees (see above) and the completion of Continuing Education.
Continuing Education (CE)
Thirty-five hours of CE are required for LPC license renewal in Georgia. At least five of these hours must focus on professional ethics and may not be obtained through independent study or online. Independent study in general is limited to five hours.
Additionally, at least 15 hours must be “core hours,” focusing on professional counseling content. Core hours may be obtained through graduate-level education, conferences, workshops, seminars, or online courses sponsored, co-sponsored, or approved by a counseling professional association or counseling academic department.
The remaining hours may be “related hours,” exploring connected subjects, such as psychiatry, psychiatric nursing, or psychology. These may be obtained through activities sponsored, co-sponsored, or approved by professional associations or academic departments in psychiatry, psychiatric nursing, psychology, social work, marriage and family therapy, or allied professions and health specialties.
Finally, no more than 20 hours of CE can be from any one course, workshop, or presentation. (This limit does not apply to professional conferences that offer multiple presentations.)
Note: One academic semester hour of graduate-level coursework is equal to 15 clock hours of CE.
Average Counselor Salary in Georgia
The following types of counselors in Georgia can expect to earn the corresponding average hourly and annual wages, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
|Occupation||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Wage|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor||$20.17||$41,950|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselor||$27.12||$56,400|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$18.35||$38,170|
|Mental Health Counselor||$21.06||$43,800|
|All Other Counselors||$21.63||$45,000|
Georgia Counseling Scholarships
The following scholarships are available to aspiring LPCs in Georgia:
- Type: Loan Repayment
- Amount: Between $30,000 and $50,000
- Description: Georgia 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).