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Licensed Clinical Counselor: Education, Job and Career Information

Research what it takes to become a licensed professional clinical counselor. Learn about education requirements, job duties, job outlook and licensure requirements to find out if this is the career for you.

What is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor?

As a licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC), you can help people work through mental health problems, substance abuse and emotional or mood disorders. They listen to a client's experiences and feelings and may diagnose them with various mental health conditions like anxiety or depression. They help individuals develop strategies to work through problems and may help them make decisions regarding the future. The following chart gives you an overview about entering this field.

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Psychology or counseling
Key Responsibilities Evaluate individuals and diagnose mental health and emotional disorders; provide therapy through individual or group sessions; assist individuals with implementing behavior modification strategies and coping skills; make referrals to other community resources
Licensure and/or Certification Licensure is required by all states; several board certifications in therapeutic specialties are available
Job Growth (2018-2028) 22% for all substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors*
Median Salary (2018) $44,630 for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor's Duties?

As a licensed professional clinical counselor, you'll utilize talk therapy and apply clinical strategies to assess, counsel and guide individuals. You may work with a number of counseling services, including substance abuse, career or mental health counseling. You'll counsel people with disorders to achieve mental health and promote emotional wellness. You'll work with clients on an individual or group basis, talking through mental, behavioral and emotional disorders. Crisis intervention, grief counseling and substance abuse counseling are a few of the situations you may discuss.

What Is the Career Outlook?

In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated there were approximately 373,100 people employed as substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors. The BLS stated that the employment of these professionals was promising with a 20% expansion expected between 2018 and 2028 (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, the median salary for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in 2018 was $44,630. The top-paying industry for this career was government with a median annual wage of $51,690.

What Degree Should I Earn?

A master's degree is typically the lowest degree sufficient to become a licensed counselor. You may find it helpful to earn a bachelor's degree in psychology or counseling before enrolling in a master's degree program. Most clinical counseling master's programs provide clinical experience and the basic counseling methods needed to work in your desired field. Since this career is centered on diagnosing and treating mental disorders, graduate courses focus on assessment methods, personality theories, treatment techniques and crisis counseling. Programs may also include training in substance abuse counseling, behavior, family dynamics, human development and mental disorders. A clinical component may also need to be completed before the master's degree is conferred.

Should I Seek Additional Certification?

The American Counseling Association provides information about every state's licensing board and individual requirements, and you might consider other national certifications. The National Board for Certified Counselors offers several certifications, and two may be beneficial to your career: the National Certified Counselor (NCC) certification and the Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC) certification (www.nbcc.org). To earn the CCMHC certification, you must pass the examination, have at least 60 hours of graduate credits and 3,000 hours of clinical experience with patients, as well as hold the NCC certification and meet a minimum number of counseling supervision hours.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

For those with a particular interest in mental health, they may want to pursue more education and become psychiatrists. They could also go into specific areas of counseling, like rehabilitation counseling, school counseling, or marriage and family counseling. There are also related careers in fields such as social work and human services.