Become a Counselor in Maryland
As in some other states, counselors in Maryland who have completed their licensure are known as Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors (LCPCs). Those who remain in the supervision portion of the licensure process are known as Licensed Graduate Professional Counselors. Maryland also had another counselor certification—Certified Professional Counselor—but this was phased out in 2008. The premier professional organization for LCPCs in the state is the Maryland Counseling Association, a branch of the American Counseling Association whose mission is to “promote public confidence and trust in the counseling profession and to influence policies that affect professional counselors and the welfare of the diverse clients they serve.”
Licensure for LCPCs in Maryland is managed by the state Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists, a division of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Licensure requirements for counselors in Maryland, including those relating to education, supervision, examination, fees, renewal, and “licensure by waiver,” 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 LCPCs in the state.
LCPC licensure in Maryland requires the completion of a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling or a related field from an accredited institution approved by state Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists.
The master’s degree program must be at least 60 graduate semester credit hours, and the doctoral degree must be at least 90. Both should include a minimum of three graduate semester credit hours in each of the following content areas:
- Human growth and personality development
- Social and cultural foundations of counseling
- Counseling theory
- Counseling techniques
- Group dynamics, processing, and counseling
- Lifestyle and career development
- Research and evaluation
- Professional, legal, and ethical responsibilities
- Marriage and family therapy
- Alcohol and drug counseling
- Diagnosis and psychopathology
- Psychotherapy and treatment of mental and emotional disorders
In addition to the coursework listed above, LCPC licensure in Maryland requires the completion of supervised field experience, which may take the form of an internship or practicum—both of which must include at least 125 hours of face-to-face client counseling. This requirement is distinct from post-graduate supervision, also a requirement for LCPC licensure in Maryland. (See “Supervision” below for details.)
“Supervision” is shorthand for post-degree, directed experience in professional counseling under supervision in a work setting. Maryland requires aspiring LCPCs to complete a number of supervision hours respective to their degree:
Master’s Degree: Three years with at least 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience in professional counseling under an approved supervisor. Of those three years, two must be post-degree.
Doctoral Degree: Two years with at least 2,000 hours of supervised clinical experience in professional counseling. Of those 2,000 hours, at least 1,000 must be post-degree.
LCPC licensure in Maryland requires a passing score on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification and the Maryland Law Test.
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. It assesses knowledge, skills, and abilities in effective counseling services.
Maryland Law Test
The Maryland Law test is administered by the state Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists.
LCPCs in Maryland can expect to pay the following fees for their application, license, renewal, and examination:
LCPC Application: $75
LCPC License: $100
LCPC License Renewal: $200
LCPC License Renewal Late Fee: $50
National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification: $195
LCPC licenses in Maryland expire every two years. License renewal requires payment of the appropriate renewal fee (see “Fees” above) and completion of Continuing Education.
Continuing Education (CE)
LCPCs in Maryland must complete at least 40 hours of CE in professional counseling during the two-year renewal period to successfully renew their licenses. Of those 40 hours, at least 30 must be in “Category A” activities. Category A activities consist of attending a course, workshop, seminar, or symposium, and authoring, editing, or reviewing a juried publication. “Category B” activities can make up 10 hours of CE and include attending or presenting informal courses, in-house colloquia, invited speaker sessions, in-house seminars, and case conferences specifically designed for training. Individualized learning activities, such as receiving formal supervision and participating in distance-learning programs, are also considered Category B.
Maryland Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists-approved sponsors of CE include the American Counseling Association, National Board for Certified Counselors, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors, International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, and all of their affiliates.
The Maryland Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists has an alternative route to licensure for counselors who have already obtained their licenses in other states. This process is called “licensure by waiver” and is delineated on the Board’s website.
Average Counselor Salary in Maryland
The following types of counselors in Maryland can expect to earn the corresponding average hourly and average annual wages, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
|Occupation||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Wage|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor||$21.15||$43,990|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselor||$29.10||$60,520|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$23.66||$49,210|
|Mental Health Counselor||$20.28||$42,180|
|All Other Counselors||$17.73||$36,880|
Maryland Counseling Scholarships
The following scholarships and loan repayment programs are available to aspiring LCPCs and LGPCs in Maryland:
- Type: Scholarships
- Amount: $5,000
- Description: Central Scholarship administers this award for master’s and doctoral students aspiring to advance the field of mental health. Specific criteria include a track record of dedication in the clinical treatment of patients with personality disorders, U.S. citizenship or legal permanent resident status, cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, adjusted gross income of less than $91,000, and Maryland residency.
- Type: Scholarships
- Amount: $2,500 to $5,000
- Description: American Addiction Centers offers three scholarships to provide financial assistance to full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate school students pursuing careers in behavior health and addiction-related studies, including counseling.
- Type: Loan Repayments
- Amount: Between $30,000 and $50,000
- Description: Maine LCPCs 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: Scholarships
- 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).