Minnesota Counseling License Requirements

Counseling Requirements for LPC and LPCC Licensure Minnesota

Table of Contents

The Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy (BBHT) issues two types of professional counselor licenses: the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and the Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC). The LPC license allows you to engage in the practice of professional counseling. At first you’ll do this under supervision and after at least one year you can be qualified to practice independently as an LPC. By gaining additional supervised clinical practice experience you can qualify to become an LPCC and engage in the practice of clinical counseling independently.

Steps Towards Licensure Counseling Licensure in Minnesota

In Minnesota you start out as an LPC who needs to practice under supervision. You can eventually choose to practice independently as an LPC, or to upgrade to an LPCC license. This is a process that entails these basic steps:

  • Earning a graduate degree in Counseling or a related field from a program that’s either accredited by the Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), or that meets specific curriculum requirements; it must also include a qualifying supervised field experience
  • Passing exams sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
  • Gaining years of supervised professional practice

Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)

Application process:
    1. Fulfill the education requirement by earning a qualifying graduate degree in Counseling or a related field. Have your graduate school send your official transcripts directly to the BBHT.
    2. – Fulfill the exam requirement. You’ll need to pass either one of the following exams sponsored by the NBCC: 1.) National Counselor Examination (NCE) 2.)National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE)
    3. Prepare to fulfill the professional practice requirement. To become fully licensed as an LPC you must complete 2,000 hours of post-master’s professional practice under supervision. This must be completed over a span of at least 12 months, but not more than 36 months. You’ll need to locate a supervisor and have them fill out a Supervision Plan Section G form that’s included in the LPC licensure application packet.
    4. Submit an application packet for LPC licensure, including a $433.25 fee. Your application packet includes instructions for completing a fingerprint background check.
    5. Once the BBHT determines your application is complete it will issue your LPC license. At this point you can start working under supervision. Once you’ve completed the supervised professional practice requirement your supervisor will submit a Verification of Supervision form to the BBHT, and upon approval the BBHT will issue you a full LPC license. This is also known as having independent practice status.

Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC)

Application process:
    1. Be an LPC who has completed your supervised professional practice requirement.
    2. – Complete the LPCC supervised professional practice requirement. This is 2,000 hours of supervised clinical professional practice completed as an LPC, including 900 hours of direct client contact. This requirement is beyond the 2,000 hours you need to complete to gain independent practice status as an LPC. Once you’ve completed the additional 2,000 hours your supervisor will submit a Verification of Supervision form to the BBHT.
    3. Fulfill the exam requirement. If you haven’t passed the NBCC’s National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) already, you’ll need to do this now.
    4. Submit an application packet for LPCC licensure, including a $433.25 fee. Once the BBHT approves your application it will issue your LPCC license.

Becoming an LPC or LPCC Supervisor

If you’re a licensed LPC or LPCC and you have four years of professional counseling experience, you can apply for a supervision designation to be added to your license. To be eligible you must complete 45 hours of training in clinical supervision. This can be from sources like continuing education, university courses, or workshops. To apply submit this form to the BBHT along with a $30 application fee. To add a supervisor designation to an LPCC license you must have two years of post-licensure experience.

Required Education and Degrees

To fulfill the education requirement for LPC or LPCC licensure, you need a master’s or doctoral degree in Counseling or a related field. It must be at least 48 semester credits and include a qualifying supervised field experience. Furthermore, your degree must be from a program that’s either accredited by the Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), or from a school that’s regionally accredited from an organization recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

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Graduate programs in Counseling from CACREP-accredited schools automatically meet curriculum and supervised field experience requirements. For the LPCC license, your CACREP-accredited program needs to include a clinical focus.

Currently there are six schools offering 20 CACREP-accredited graduate programs in Minnesota, including:

  • Eight programs that are offered online
  • Six programs that include a clinical focus

If you’re fulfilling the education requirement with a graduate program in Counseling or a related field via the CHEA route, then it must include coursework in each of the following subject areas:

  • Helping relationships, including counseling practice and theory
  • Career and lifestyle development
  • Appraisal and assessment
  • Counseling, consulting, processes, and group dynamics
  • Human growth and development
  • Cultural and social foundations, including multicultural issues
  • Professional counseling ethics and orientation
  • Principles of treatment planning, etiology, and prevention of emotional and behavior disorders
  • Evaluation and research
  • Family therapy and counseling

Additionally for an LPCC license, the graduate program must include three semester credits each in:

  • Clinical treatment planning
  • Cultural diversity
  • Clinical practice professional ethics
  • Evaluation methodologies for intervention effectiveness

And six semester credits each in:

  • Clinical intervention methods informed by community standards of practice and research evidence
  • Diagnostic assessment for adult and child mental disorders; psychopathology, including developmental psychopathology
  • Renewing Your License

    Both the LPC and LPCC licenses expire every year. 45 days before your license is set to expire, the BBHT mails you a renewal notice. You can renew online or by filling out your renewal notice and returning it to the BBHT, along with a $250 renewal fee.

    To be eligible for renewal you need to complete continuing education and graduate-level education in counseling. The amount of education you must complete depends on how many credits your graduate degree in Counseling was.

    By the end of your first four years as an LPC or LPCC, you must have a total of 60 graduate-level semester credits. For example, if your graduate degree in Counseling was 48 credits, then you would need to earn an additional 12 credits by your fourth year as an LPC or LPCC. You must additionally complete 40 hours of continuing education by your fourth year of licensure.

    After your fourth license renewal you’ll need to attest to completing 40 hours of continuing education every two years.

    How Long Does it Take to Become a Counselor in Minnesota?

    You can expect to invest at least six years into education to fulfill the education requirements for licensure – four years in a bachelor’s program and at least two years in a master’s program in Counseling. From there it will take additional years to fulfill the experience requirement for your desired license:

    • LPC – Six years total, all of which is education
    • LPC with Independent Practice status – Seven years total
    • LPC Supervisor – 10 years total
    • LPCC – Eight years total
    • LPCC Supervisor – 10 years total


    You can apply for the LPC and LPCC licenses based on reciprocity if the state where you’re licensed has substantially similar requirements as Minnesota’s. The BBHT needs to receive official verification of your license from your out-of-state Board of Counseling, and your official academic transcripts from your school. You also must pass a fingerprint criminal background check.

    There’s usually a minimum amount of time you must have been licensed in your home state as an LPC or LPCC, such four years. You can find detailed information about this and whether your home state qualifies for reciprocity with Minnesota by consulting this directory. When you apply you’ll need to complete this reciprocity application.

    Practicums and Internships

    The degree you earn to fulfill the education requirement must include a supervised field experience that’s at least 700 hours which are counseling in nature. This can be in the form of a practicum, internship, or residency. Make sure the number of hours is reflected on your academic transcripts. Programs that are CACREP-accredited automatically include a qualifying field experience.

    Required Exams

    To qualify for LPC or LPCC licensure you must pass an exam sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).

    The NBCC’s National Counselor Examination (NCE) will qualify you for the LPC license, and its National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) will qualify you for both the LPC and LPCC licenses. If you plan on progressing to the LPCC license it would be strategic to take the NCMHCE as a one-time exam.

    Both exams are computer-based. The NCE is more basic and multiple-choice. The NCMHCE presents you with test questions based on clinical simulations. You can find more information about these exams through the NCE and NCMHCE handbooks.

    Both exams are administered by the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE). The CCE manages the online ProCounselor portal you use to register for either exam.

    Salary Information

    The US Department of Labor reports the following average annual salary statistics for different counseling careers, specifically for Minnesota:

    • Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors – $59,100
    • Marriage and Family Therapists – $61,240
    • Rehabilitation Counselors – $40,860
    • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor – $51,260
    • Counselors, all others – $44,770
    • Occupational Therapists – $76,220
    • Therapists, all other – $69,140

    Types of Counseling Careers

    Within the counseling careers examined above, the US Department of Labor reports there’s a total of 20,900 professionals working throughout Minnesota. By ratio this works out to:

    • 37% are Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
    • 22% are Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors
    • 17% are Rehabilitation Counselors
    • 14% are Occupational Therapists
    • 7% are Marriage and Family Therapists
    • 2% are Counselors, all others
    • 1% are Therapists, all others


    Minnesota Counseling Association (MnCA) – This organization has been advocating for counselors throughout the state since 1970. It offers networking events like an annual conference, and is proud to be part of its larger parent organization. Among its successes are getting counselors recognized as master-level providers who are thereby able to bill Medicaid with a provider number from DHS.

    Minnesota School Counselor Association (MSCA) – With the ultimate aim of maximizing the academic, career, and personal growth achievements of every student, the MCSA focuses on advancing the profession of school counseling. It does this by hosting annual networking events, serving as a hub for helpful resources, sponsoring scholarships, and much more.

    Minnesota Association of Counselors of Color (MnACC) – Founded in 1991, this organization strives to improve access to higher education for students of color from throughout the state. It provides a range of services including the hosting of a job board, sponsoring scholarships, and providing databases to schools and students to help further their goals.

    Minnesota Addiction Professionals (MnAP) – This organization is dedicated to the professional development and growth of addiction professionals. It offers members resources on topics like liability insurance, relevant publications, and opportunities for continuing education. As part of its larger national parent organization, members enjoy access to an annual national conference.

    Minnesota Association for College Admission Counseling (MACAC) – This organization serves as a hub linking students and institutions of higher education. It hosts several committees that exemplify the areas of focus MACAC emphasizes. These include committees for government relations, member relations, professional development, education fairs, and inclusion, access, and success.

    Career Opportunities

    Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) – Playing a pivotal role for many of the state’s most vulnerable residents, the DHS works with local partners and sponsors its own programs that address issues including living with disabilities, mental and behavioral health, children’s services, drug and alcohol addiction, and providing assistance for the elderly.

    Rogers Behavioral Health – With locations in Woodbury and Eden Prairie, this company provides mental and behavioral health treatment for issues like eating disorders, depression, PTSD, trauma, and addiction recovery. Clients can choose their type of program, which include intensive outpatient, residential, and partial hospitalization.

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    Minnesota Mental Health Clinics – With seven locations throughout the greater St. Paul-Minneapolis area, this agency accepts a range of insurance policies as one of the leading providers of mental health services in the area. It treats differing issues that clients face, and offers flexible treatment options like home visits, drop-in services, transportation, individual and group therapy, and outreach.

    Fraser – The state’s most experienced and largest provider of early childhood and autism mental health services, this non-profit organization is present in seven different cities. Specific ages of focus include early childhood, elementary, adolescents, young adults, and adults. Parents and care providers are also included in the treatment process, which includes workshops.

    Allina Health – With hundreds of affiliated treatment centers throughout Minnesota and the region including 12 hospitals and more than 90 clinics, this not-for-profit healthcare provider has a major impact on the well-being and medical treatment options available for residents throughout the state. 55 locations provide mental health and addiction services, including those tailored to clients with both addictive and mental disorders, opioid treatment programs, a mindfulness adult day-treatment program, and more.