Become a Counselor in Wisconsin
As in many other states, counselors in Wisconsin who have obtained their licensure are known as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs), and those who have yet to complete the supervision portion of the licensure process are known as LPC Trainees.
The state’s premier professional organization for LPCs is the Wisconsin Counseling Association, a local branch of the American Counseling Association whose mission is “to enhance the quality of life in society by promoting the development of professional counselors, advocating for the professional practices in the profession of counseling, and promoting respect for human dignity and diversity.” Licensure for LPCs in Wisconsin is managed by the state’s Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Counseling, and Social Work Examining Board, a division of the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services.
Licensure requirements for counselors in Wisconsin, including education, supervision, examination, fees, renewal, and “licensure 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 LPCs in the state.
LPC licensure in Wisconsin requires the completion of a graduate degree in professional counseling from a program accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education or the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs. The state Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Counseling, and Social Work Examining Board maintains a list of approved LPC education programs.
Appropriate degree programs will be 42 semester hours in length with a minimum of three semester hours in counseling theory and six of the following content areas:
- Human growth and development
- Social and cultural foundations
- The helping relationship
- Group dynamics process and counseling
- Lifestyle and career development
- Appraisal of individuals
- Research and evaluation
- Professional counseling orientation
In addition to the coursework listed above, LPC licensure in Wisconsin also requires the completion of a three-semester-hour supervised practicum in providing counseling to clients. This requirement is distinct from post-graduate supervision, which is also necessary for licensure. (See below for details.)
“Supervision” is shorthand for directed, post-graduate experience in professional counseling under supervision in a work setting. LPC licensure in Wisconsin requires the completion of 3,000 hours of supervision for holders of master’s degrees, with 1,000 hours of face-to-face client contact, and 1,000 hours for holders of doctorate degrees.
LPC licensure in Wisconsin requires a passing score on either the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification, the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam, or the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Exam, and the Wisconsin Statutes and Rules Examination.
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.
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 National Board for Certified Counselors.
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.
Wisconsin Statutes and Rules Examination
The Wisconsin Statutes and Rules Examination is drawn from applicable state statutes and administrative code chapters specific to professional counseling. It is online, un-timed, and administered by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services.
LPCs in Wisconsin can expect to pay the following fees for their license application, renewal, and examination:
LPC License Application: $165
LPC License Renewal: $91
LPC Late License Renewal: $116
National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification: $195
National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination: $195
Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Exam: $385
LPC licenses in Wisconsin expire biennially on February 28 of each odd-numbered year. License renewal requires payment of the appropriate fees (see above) and the completion of Continuing Education. First-time renewals are exempt from the Continuing Education requirement.
Continuing Education (CE)
Wisconsin LPCs are required to complete 30 hours of CE during each two-year renewal period. At least four of these hours must focus on ethics and professional boundaries.
CE hours may be earned through programs approved, sponsored, provided, endorsed, or authorized by the following organizations:
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
- Wisconsin Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
- National Rehabilitation Counseling Association
- Wisconsin Rehabilitation Counseling Association
- National Board for Certified Counselors
- American Counseling Association
- Wisconsin Counseling Association
- Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification
- Association of Social Work Boards
- National Association of Social Workers
- Association of Baccalaureate Program Directors
- Counsel on Social Work Education
- National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling
- Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education
- Committee for the Approval of Continuing Education Sponsors of the American Psychological Association
- Council on Medical Education of the American Medical Association
- American Osteopathic Association
- Any accredited college or university
CE may also be obtained through in-house training (maximum of 15 hours), presentations, and development of CE.
For Counselors Licensed in Other States
The Wisconsin Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Counseling, and Social Work Examining Board has an alternative route to licensure for counselors who have already obtained their licenses in other parts of the United States. This process is called “licensure reciprocity” and is delineated on the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services website.
Average Counselor Salary in Wisconsin
Counselors in Wisconsin can expect to earn the following 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 Counselors||$21.33||$44,370|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||$25.48||$53,000|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$21.37||$44,450|
|Mental Health Counselors||$22.20||$46,170|
|All Other Counselors||$22.22||$46,210|
Wisconsin Counseling Scholarships
The following scholarships and loan repayment programs are available to LPCs and LPC Trainees in Wisconsin:
- Type: Scholarships
- Amount: To Be Decided
- Description: The American Psychological Association (APA), with funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, offers assistance to students enrolled full time in APA-accredited doctoral programs who have a strong commitment to a career in ethnic minority behavioral health services.
- Type: Scholarships
- Amount: $5,000
- Description: This award from the American Psychological Foundation is available each year to one full-time graduate student in good standing at an accredited university who has demonstrated a commitment to stigma issues.
- 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 students pursuing careers in behavioral health and addiction-related studies, including counseling.
- Type: Loan Repayments
- Amount: Between $30,000 and $50,000
- Description: Wisconsin 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- or half-time service.
- Type: Scholarships
- Amount: To Be Decided
- 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.