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What are The Professional Counselor License Requirements in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin's Examining Board of Marriage & Family Therapists, Professional Counselors and Social Workers issues counseling licenses at two practice levels: Licensed Professional Counselor and Professional Counselor Trainee.

Credentialing as a Licensed Professional Counselor requires education, passing scores on two examinations, and a residency, or period of supervised practice. As a Wisconsin counselor, you may also have an additional qualification or specialty added to your professional license.

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Required Education

Your first step is completion of a graduate level program in counseling or a related field. It must include, at minimum, 42 semester hours or 63 quarter hours.

The board considers any program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) to be approved.

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.

Walden University offers one of the only CACREP-accredited online M.S. in Mental Health Counseling degrees in the country. Click here to contact the University for information about the program.

Learn more about selecting a Master's in Counseling program here.

Click here to find other pre-approved educational programs listed on the board site.

If your program has not been approved, you will need to demonstrate that it meets curricular requirements. You will need a three semester hour (or four quarter hour) class in counseling theory. You will also need a three semester hour course in at least 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, you will need to complete at least three semester hours of supervised counseling practicum.

When it comes time to apply for your license, you will fill out a course worksheet and attach course catalog descriptions (unless you were enrolled in a pre-approved program). You will list each of the classes that make up your required 42 semester hours of coursework under the content category where it best fits.

Educational Requirements for Psychometric Testing Qualification

Additional coursework may be required if you wish to be qualified to engage in psychometric testing as part of your practice. Your coursework will need to cover the following topics:

  • Descriptive statistics
  • Reliability
  • Validity
  • Normative interpretation
  • Test selection
  • Procedures of test administration
  • Variables (gender, age, race, ethnicity, culture, language)
  • Testing of individuals with disabilities

Professional Counselor Training License in Wisconsin

You will apply for a Professional Counselor Training License after you have completed your education and received a job offer. You will need to submit an application and pay a licensing fee. You will also submit an employer affidavit.

While in training, you will work under supervision. The amount of supervised practice you will need depends on your highest degree. If you have a master's, the requirement is 3,000 hours of counseling, completed over a period of at least two years. At least 1,000 of these hours must be direct client contact. If you have a doctoral degree, the requirement is 1,000 hours.

You will have a clinical supervisor who consults with you and takes responsibility for your actions as a professional. S/he will need to make provisions for emergency consultations. S/he is expected to provide an hour a week of face-to-face supervision.

Your supervisor may be a licensed professional counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist, or a level 3 civil service vocational rehabilitation supervisor. Other professionals may be approved as supervisors; however, you will need to submit a request in advance. If your supervisor is a vocational rehabilitation supervisor or an LPC who does not have a doctoral degree, s/he will be expected to have five years of experience.

Your training license is good for 48 months and may be renewed at the board’s discretion. You will be allowed to use the title Professional Counselor while working under a training license. If you want to be qualified to do psychometric testing, you will need to have appropriate supervision. Your supervisor will send a statement to the board that lists the specific tests you are qualified to give. Some tests may be authorized only in particular settings or for specific purposes. If you want a qualification to specialize in the treatment of substance abuse, you will need to do 1,000 hours of face-to-face client work with people who have been diagnosed with substance abuse problems. You may complete this as part of your initial licensing process, or afterwards.

Licensing Examination

Before you can be licensed at the professional level, you will need to pass a licensing examination and a jurisprudence examination. The examination process can be lengthy, when measured from the time you first submit your materials to the time your scores are reported to the board. If you have met all requirements except the licensing exam, you may receive a temporary permit, which is good for nine months, or until the board receives your scores.

You may select the National Counselor Examination (NCE), the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) or the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Examination (CRCE) for licensing purposes. Whichever exam you opt for, you will apply directly to the testing/ certifying agency.

The NCE is administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors and is a general exam for professional counselors; the NCMHCE is also administered by the NBCC, but focuses specifically on clinical counseling. You will use the same registration form for either test -- you may download one from either the NBCC or the Wisconsin Board. You will include official sealed graduate transcripts and a $195 fee with your registration. Registration materials should be sent to the following address:

NBCC Assessment Dept.
PO Box 7407
Greensboro, NC 27417-0407

It will take about four weeks for the NBCC to process your materials. Once you have been authorized, you may schedule your exam through AMP. You will visit www.goAMP.com or call 888-519-9901. Wisconsin has testing sites in Green Bay and Milwaukee, but you may select a different location if you prefer. The CRC is administered by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. It is designed especially for rehabilitation counselors. If you have graduated from a CORE-accredited program, this exam maybe an especially good fit; however, there are other eligibility pathways. You may download the registration form from the site, but will need to mail your materials. You may call the CRCC at 847-394-210. You may also opt to use the online contact form (http://www.crccertification.com/pages/contact_us/4.php).

The jurisprudence exam is open book. You can take it on your own home computer, using Internet Explorer. You may retake it if necessary, but it will require payment of an additional fee.

Additional Requirements for Substance Abuse Treatment

To get a qualification in substance abuse that allows you to provide primary treatment for AODA clients, you will need at least 180 contact hours of training that is relevant to the AODA. At least 45 hours must be in psychopharmacology. The following content must be covered:

  • Understanding addiction
  • Treatment knowledge
  • Application to practice
  • Professional readiness

For additional information about training, you may study U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Technical Assistance Publication series number 21. The qualification also requires you to take and pass the ICRC.

* Click Here for applications and additional materials.

The Application Process

If you begin the licensing process in Wisconsin, you will make your first application when you apply for trainee status. Additional materials will be added to your file as you complete supervision and examination requirements.

Some materials will be required at first application, regardless of licensing level or background. You will submit an application and application fee. If you have legal issues or malpractice settlements in your past or present, you will have additional supplementary forms to fill out. You will use a different address depending on whether you choose express mail or the regular postal service.

Postal service:

Professional Counselor Section
Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing
PO Box 8395
Madison, WI 53708-8935

Express mail:

1400 E. Washington Avenue
Madison, WI 53703

*Click Here for the Professional Counselor application forms and additional materials.

Out of State Applicants

If you are coming from a state that has substantively equivalent requirements, you may be eligible for a reciprocal license. If you are applying for licensing by reciprocity, you will need to submit a copy of the rules and regulation for licensure in your municipality. If you are credentialed in another municipality, you will be expected to supply a license verification. You will fill out the top portion of the form and send it to your licensing body.

License Maintenance in Wisconsin

You will need to renew your license every other year, on odd-numbered years. If you need to contact the board about renewal, you may email DSPSRenewal@wisconsin.gov.

Additional Information

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 Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Counseling Association

You may contact the board by emailing DSPSBoards@wisconsin.gov.

Wisconsin School Counselor Association

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*Most states require completion of a CACREP accredited master's in counseling program or a program
that covers very specific curriculum in order to be licensed as a counselor. It is recommend that you follow up
with your state licensing board to review specific educational requirements and determine whether a
program meets your state's counselor licensure requirements.