As a professional counselor in New Jersey, you may have one or more credentials attached to your name. You can become a Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC) by completing the requisite education and passing a licensing exam. Your title will become Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) later, after you have fulfilled your practice requirements. You may also be granted specialist credentials if you pass additional requirements set by the National Board for Certified Counselors.
The information below serves as a guide to professional counselor licensure in New Jersey. If you have any questions or just want to make sure you are on the right path, contact the State of New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Professional Counselor Examiners Committee at 973-504-6415 or filling out the online contact form (http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/proc/proc_contact.htm).
You will need education at the master’s or doctoral level. Your program should be accredited by CACREP. Learn more about selecting a Master's in Counseling program here.
Capella University, offers three online CACREP- accredited master's programs: Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Marriage and Family Therapy, and School Counseling. Click here to contact Capella University and request information about their programs.
Chicago, IL based Northwestern University offers another option for an online M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling modeled after CACREP's guidelines. Click here to contact Northwestern University for information about the program. (*This program is NOT available to students in WA, NV, MN, WI, AR, LA, AL, KY, NC, DE, MD, NH)
You should have at least 60 total semester hours in your program. At least 45 should be in the following core areas (with at least eight of the nine represented):
CACREP accreditation becomes a requirement on October 5, 2012 -- for those who got their education earlier, the expectation is that the program included the word counselor or counseling in the title and that it met specific curricular requirements.
In order to be licensed at the associate level, you'll need to take the National Counselor Examination (http://www.nj.gov/oag/ca/laws/pcregs.pdf). If you're currently a student in a CACREP-accredited program, you can take the exam before you graduate. Otherwise, you'll need to apply to the New Jersey board for permission to take the exam. You’ll turn in your application, and if you meet all requirements for licensure accept the exam requirement, the board will authorize you.
Once you get your authorization, you'll send your signed registration form, along with the $185 fee to the National Board for Certified Counselors. Use the following address: NBCC Assessment Dept., PO Box 7407, Greensboro, NC 27417-0407.
It will take about a month for the NBCC to process your registration form. Once you’ve received their confirmation, you'll schedule an exam by visiting the Applied Measurement Professionals website (ww.goAMP.com) or calling 888-519-9901. You may elect to take the exam in Wayne or Robbinsville or at any of approximately 170 other testing sites around the nation. The exam takes four hours and is available on weekdays during the first two full weeks of the month. Some sites have exams on Saturday, too.
You'll need to pay a $20 score verification fee to have your scores sent to the New Jersey board.
You will need to work under supervision until you have acquired the requisite hour for a professional license (http://www.nj.gov/oag/ca/laws/pcregs.pdf). The number of hours depends on your educational level. With a master’s, you’ll need 4,500 hours. If you have thirty additional hours of counseling coursework beyond a master’s, 3,000 hours will be sufficient (http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/proc/pcappl.pdf).
You may get up to a year of credit for work that you did before you got your degree. Practicums and internship experiences may be counted if they exceeded what you needed to meet your educational requirements.
You will work under a qualified supervisor. Your clinical supervisor will probably be a different person than your administrative supervisor (as the board has identified the employer-employee relationship as a potential conflict of interest). You may hire a clinical supervisor if you need to.
Your supervisor will either act as a co-counselor or observe you (live or through audiotaped or videotaped sessions). S/he will problem solve with you and offer feedback. S/he may either respond to case studies that you create or engage in counseling role plays.
New regulations went into effect October 5, 2011. From this point on, it's expected that supervisors will have a credential in supervising or have completed at least three graduate credits in clinical supervision.
You may take up to six years competing supervision requirements. You will need to maintain documentation of your supervised experience.
During your time as an LAC, you may not engage in independent practice or receive fees directly from clients.
You will use the same form whether you're applying for licensure as an associate counselor or professional counselor. Click here to download the application. Filling out the form is also your first step in getting authorization to take the NCE licensing exam.
Make sure to read N.J.S.A. 45:8B-34 et seq., and N.J.A.C. 13:34-10.1 et seq., before submitting materials. These are the rules and regulations you'll be held to, and you'll be signing an affidavit that you've read them and understand that you are bound to them.
In the application, you will answer questions about professional fitness, health conditions, and student loan and child support status.
The application will also include a course worksheet where you show which of your courses meet particular standards.
You will attach a 2 by 2 passport-quality photo.
You will either include an official transcript or request it and have it sent separately. (The application will include a box to check if your transcript will arrive separately.)
You will have your affidavit notarized.
Make sure to include the nonrefundable $75 fee with your application.
The licensing fee is currently $250 for professional counselors and $180 for those with associate status. If you make your initial application in the second year of the two year cycle, however, you will only be charged half that.
If you've been actively practicing for the past three years, you may apply for licensure by endorsement.
You will be expected to demonstrate 4,500 hours of work experience over a three to six year period.
You should be registered with the National Credentials Registry.
You will need to demonstrate the following to the board:
You have either graduated from a CACREP-accredited program or from a program that included counselor or counseling in the title and included three semester hours (or four quarter hours) in each of the following:
Your program should include at least 60 total semester hours.
You will be expected to have passed either the National Counselor Examination or the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination.
New Jersey considers mental health counseling a specialty designation that can be added to your state credential. Clinical Mental Health Counselor status is accomplished in part by earning Clinical Mental Health Counselor certification through the NBCC.
The NBCC has multiple routes to mental health certification, but New Jersey places additional stipulations. You will need to satisfy these requirements:
The NBCC notes that certification as a National Certified Counselor is a prerequisite, but, assuming you’ve met the requirements, you can apply for both at the same time (http://www.nbcc.org/Specialties/CCMHC).
The New Jersey board recognizes specialty certifications that are granted through the NBCC and may add specialty designations to the state credential. Professional counselors are not to advertise themselves as specialists or use the specialty credentials in their titles unless the board determines they have indeed met the requirements.
In additional to mental health, specialties include gerontology, addictions, career, and school counseling (http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/proc/pcappl.pdf).
You will need to renew your license biennially. As an LPC, you will need to complete 40 contact hours of continuing education each renewal period, with the exception of the first one. If you're licensed as an LAC for two or more terms, you'll have a continuing education requirement as well.
If you have a specialty permit, you'll need to meet the NBCC's continuing education requirements. You may apply the same hours toward meeting requirements set by the New Jersey board. All of these and additional regulations regarding counselor licensure in New Jersey can be found by clicking here.
If you are still in High School, hold a High School Diploma/GED, or hold a bachelor's degree, check out suggested steps to take along the path to becoming a counselor in New Jersey.
You may contact the committee by calling 973-504-6415 or filling out the online contact form (http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/proc/proc_contact.htm).