Become a Counselor in Pennsylvania
As in many other states, licensed counselors in Pennsylvania are known as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs). The state’s premier professional organization for LPCs is the Pennsylvania Counseling Association, a local branch of the American Counseling Association whose mission is to “serve and represent Pennsylvania’s professional counselors by providing leadership and professional development.”
Licensure for LPCs in Pennsylvania is managed by the State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors, a division of the Pennsylvania Department of State. Licensure requirements for counselors in Pennsylvania, including education, supervision, examination, fees, renewal and “licensure by reciprocity,” 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 in the state.
LPC licensure in Pennsylvania requires the completion of a 60-semester-hour graduate degree in counseling or a closely related field from an accredited educational institution.
Appropriate degree programs will include at least two semester hours of coursework in each of the following content areas:
- Human growth and development;
- Social and cultural foundations;
- Helping relationships;
- Group work;
- Career and lifestyle development;
- Research and program evaluation;
- Professional orientation.
In addition to the coursework listed above, LPC licensure in Pennsylvania also requires the completion of a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship, in that order. This is a distinct requirement from post-graduate supervision, which is also necessary for LPC licensure in Pennsylvania. (See “Supervision” below for details.)
“Supervision” is shorthand for directed, post-graduate experience in professional counseling under supervision in a work setting. Pennsylvania requires aspiring LPCs to complete a number of hours of supervision in relation to their degree. Master’s degree-holders must complete 3,000 hours of supervision, while those with doctoral degrees must obtain a minimum of 2,400 — at least 1,200 post degree. The approved supervisor must meet with the supervisee for a minimum of two hours for each 40 hours of supervision, with at least one of those two hours being one-to-one direction (as opposed to group supervision, which may not exceed six supervisees).
LPC licensure in Pennsylvania requires a passing score on an examination. The two most common tests are the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification, and the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Exam, both of which are detailed below. The following exams are also accepted by Pennsylvania State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors:
- Art Therapy Credentials Board Certification Examination;
- Certification Board for Music Therapists Certification Examination;
- Northamerican Association of Master’s in Psychology Practice Examination;
- Advanced Alcohol & Drug Counselor Examination;
- Examination for Master Addictions Counselors.
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 assess knowledge, skills and abilities in effective counseling services.
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. It is administered by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification.
LPCs in Pennsylvania can expect to pay the following fees for their license application, renewal and examination:
LPC Application: $45
LPC Biennial License Renewal: $95
National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification: $195
Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Exam: $385
Art Therapy Credentials Board Certification Examination: $450 (Computer Based)
Certification Board for Music Therapists Certification Examination: $325
LPC licenses in Pennsylvania expire biennially. License renewal requires payment of the appropriate fees (see above) and the completion of Continuing Education.
Continuing Education (CE)
Pennsylvania LPCs are required to complete 30 hours of CE during each two-year renewal period. At least three CE hours must focus on ethical issues, and a maximum of 20 hours may be obtained through home study. Hours over the required 30 may not be carried over to next period.
For Counselors Licensed in Other States
The Pennsylvania State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors has an alternative route to licensure for counselors who have already obtained their licenses in other states. This process is called “licensure by reciprocity” and is delineated on the state’s online publication of rules and regulations.
Average Counselor Salary in Pennsylvania
The following types of counselors in Pennsylvania 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||$19.80||$41,320|
|Educational, Guidance, School and Vocational Counselors||$26.32||$54,740|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$23.70||$49,300|
|Mental Health Counselors||$20.75||$43,150|
|All Other Counselors||$23.67||$49,240|
Pennsylvania Counseling Scholarships
The following scholarships and loan repayment programs are available to aspiring LPCs in Pennsylvania:
- 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: Pennsylvania 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).