Become a Counselor in New Jersey
As in many other states, licensed counselors in New Jersey are known as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs), and counselors still in the supervision portion of the licensure process are known as Licensed Associate Counselors (LACs). The state’s premier professional organization for LPCs and LACs is the New Jersey Counseling Association, a state branch of the American Counseling Association whose mission is “advancing the counseling profession through the professional development of counselors and counseling students, and expanding public recognition and awareness of the profession.” Licensure for LPCs and LACs in New Jersey is managed by the state Professional Counselor Examiners Committee, a branch of the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety, Division of Consumer Affairs.
Licensure requirements for counselors in New Jersey, including those relating to education, supervision, examination, fees, and renewal, are examined in further detail below, along with salary information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as scholarships and loan repayment programs available to aspiring LPCs and LACs in the state.
LPC licensure in New Jersey requires the completion of a 60-semester-hour master’s degree in counseling from a regionally accredited institution of higher education.
Appropriate degree programs will include at least 45 credit hours of graduate coursework in eight of the following content areas:
- Counseling theory and practice
- The helping relationship
- Human growth and development, and maladaptive behavior
- Lifestyle and career development
- Group dynamics, processes, counseling, and consulting
- Appraisal of individuals
- Social and cultural foundations
- Research and evaluation
- The counseling profession
As a requirement of CACREP accredited graduate degree programs, individuals will pursue and complete at least 600 hours of internship experience during their graduate coursework.
“Supervision” is shorthand for post-graduate, directed experience in professional counseling under supervision in a work setting. New Jersey requires aspiring LPCs to complete 4,500 hours of supervision throughout three years. Up to 1,500 of these hours may be obtained through 30 additional semester credits in counseling. Supervision should include at least 50 hours of face-to-face direction from an approved supervisor per year at the rate of one hour a week, with no more than 10 hours being group supervision.
LAC and LPC licensure in New Jersey requires a passing score on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification, a 200-question, multiple-choice examination administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. It assesses knowledge, skills, and abilities in effective counseling services.
LPCs and LACs in New Jersey can expect to pay the following fees for their license and renewal:
LPC/LAC Application: $75
LPC Initial and Renewal License: up to $250
LAC Initial and Renewal License: up to $180
LAC/LPC License Renewal Late Fee: $100
LPC licenses in New Jersey expire biennially. License renewal requires payment of the appropriate fees and the completion of continuing education.
New Jersey LPCs are required to complete 40 hours of continuing education (CE) during each two-year renewal period. At least five of those hours must focus on ethics and three on social and cultural competency. If more than 40 CE hours are gained in the two year period, a maximum of 10 can carry over to the next biennial renewal. Continuing education hours can be earned from accrediting or national organizations, teaching graduate coursework, authoring a professional journal article, presenting a course, or taking a course in a counseling related topic.
For Counselors Licensed in Other States
The New Jersey Professional Counselor Examiners Committee has an alternative route to licensure for counselors who have already obtained their licenses in other states. Applicants must submit proof of active practice for at least three year previous to application, hold a master’s degree from an accredited or related program, have obtained 4,500 hours of work experience over a period of three to six years, and have passed the NCE or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination.
Average Counselor Salary in New Jersey
The following types of counselors in New Jersey can expect to earn the respective 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 Counselors||$25.72||$53,490|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||$34.71||$72,200|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$35.94||$74,750|
|Mental Health Counselors||$25.68||$53,410|
|All Other Counselors||$31.02||$64,530|
New Jersey Counseling Scholarships
The following scholarships and loan repayment programs are available to aspiring LPCs and LACs in New Jersey:
- Type: Scholarships
- Amount: $2,500 to $5,000
- Description: American Addiction Centers offers three scholarships providing 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: New Jersey 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: 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).
*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.