A part of the Missouri Division of Professional Registration, the Committee for Professional Counselors (CPC) issues the licenses you’ll need if you want to practice counseling throughout the state. The main credential you need is the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Before you can become fully licensed as an LPC you need to gain experience working in counseling under supervision as a Provisionally Licensed Professional Counselor (PLPC).
Once you’ve gained enough experience as a PLPC you can apply to become fully licensed as an LPC. As an LPC you can also opt to become qualified as a PLPC supervisor with additional experience and education.
Steps Towards Counseling Licensure in Missouri
To become fully licensed as an LPC you’ll need to go through these steps:
- Earn a qualifying graduate degree in Counseling that includes a practicum
- Pass the National Counselor Examination (NCE) sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
- Pass an FBI background check each time you apply for a license
- Become a licensed PLPC
- Fulfill the LPC supervised experience requirement and pass a jurisprudence exam
- Become a licensed LPC
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Provisionally Licensed Professional Counselor (PLPC)
- Fulfill the education requirement with a graduate degree in Counseling. This must include a practicum that’s at least six semester credits. Have your school send your official transcripts to the CPC.
- Fulfill the national exam requirement by registering with the NBCC for its NCE exam. This is a 200-question multiple-choice test that you’ll take on a computer at a local testing center. Designate the CPC as being the approved recipient for your exam scores.
- Locate a supervisor and a work site where you can accrue hours to fulfill the LPC’s supervised work experience requirement. Fill out an Agreement to Provide Supervised Counseling Experience with your supervisor and submit this to the CPC along with your application for PLPC licensure.
- Submit an application for PLPC licensure to the CPC, and include a $75 fee. Once the CPC approves your application you can start accruing hours to fulfill the LPC supervised work experience requirement. You do not need to complete continuing education to renew your PLPC license, and you must fulfill the LPC supervised experience requirement within five years.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
- Fulfill the supervised work experience requirement. This is 3,000 hours completed over at least 24 months and in not more than five years as a PLPC. It must include 1,200 hours of direct client care. During this period you must be engaged in counseling duties at least 15 hours per week. Once you’ve fulfilled this requirement your supervisor will submit a Verification of Post Degree Supervised Counseling Experience form to the CPC.
- Pass an open-book internet-based Missouri Jurisprudence Exam. Include the printable certificate of completion you receive after taking this with your application for LPC licensure.
- Submit an application for LPC licensure with the CPC. Include a $100 application fee. Once the CPC approves your application it will issue your LPC license.
Becoming a supervisor:
As a licensed LPC you can choose to gain additional education and become qualified to supervise PLPCs. To qualify you need to have at least two years of experience as an LPC, and complete a supervisor training course, such as one offered through the Missouri Mental Health Counselors Association (MMHCA). Once you’ve met these requirements you can submit an application to become an LPC supervisor to the CPC.
Renewing Your LPC License
The LPC license expires every two years biannually. Before your license is set to expire the CPC mails you a renewal form. To be eligible to renew you must attest to completing 40 hours of continuing education. 20 of these hours must be formal education obtained from venues like workshops and seminars, and the remaining 20 can be obtained from self study.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Counselor in Missouri?
In total you can expect to invest eight years into becoming fully licensed as an LPC. It takes at least six years to complete your education –four years for a bachelor’s degree and two additional years for a master’s degree in Counseling– and become a PLPC. Beyond that it takes at least two more years to fulfill the LPC supervised experience requirement.
If you completed qualifying education, supervision, and an examination out-of-state, you can apply for licensure as a PLPC or LPC in Missouri.
You can be exempt from the national exam requirement and be licensed via reciprocity if you hold a license that’s current and in good standing in another state that’s equivalent to the PLPC or LPC. To be eligible for this you must meet one of the following:
Before you can become licensed as an LPC you still must pass the Missouri Jurisprudence Examination.
To apply as an out-of-state candidate follow the step-by-step process detailed above for your licensure level. Request your state’s Board of Counseling to send the CPC official verification of your out-of-state license, and if applicable have the NBCC forward your exam scores to the CPC.
Practicums and Internships
The degree program you use to fulfill the PLPC and LPC education requirement must include a practicum that’s at least six semester credits. If you’re lacking this requirement you can arrange to take approved coursework to make up for it with the CPC.
To become licensed as a PLPC and subsequently as an LPC you must pass the National Counselor Examination (NCE) that’s sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).
This is a multiple-choice 200-question exam taken on a computer, for which you’ll have three hours and forty-five minutes to complete. It covers eight domain subject areas, which coincide with the educational content you learn in your graduate degree program in Counseling. You can learn more about this exam in the NCE Handbook.
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You can register for the NCE exam as soon as you’ve earned your graduate degree. You register with the NBCC’s partner organization, the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE), through its online ProCounselor portal.
Missouri Jurisprudence Exam
The Missouri Legal and Ethical Responsibilities Examination is an open-book exam taken online. It covers the laws and statutes that are related to professional counseling, and can be taken any time when you’re fulfilling the supervised work experience requirement. Once you pass this you can print off a certificate of completion that you’ll include with your application for LPC licensure.
Required Education and Degrees
To fulfill the education requirement for both PLPC and LPC licensure you must earn a master’s, specialist, or doctoral degree in Counseling or a closely related field. This must be at least 48 semester credits and include courses that are at least three credits covering each of the following subjects:
- Counseling theory
- Helping relationship
- Human growth and development
- Cultural and social diversity
- Research methods
- Group counseling
- Professional orientation
- Career development
Your degree program must also include a qualifying practicum.
If you want to fulfill the education requirement with online coursework or coursework that does not allow you to interact verbally and visually, then that coursework must be from a degree program that is accredited by the Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
Right now there are seven schools in Missouri offering 14 graduate programs that are CACREP-accredited. These include:
- Seven Master of Science (MS) programs
- Four Master of Arts (MA) programs
- Two Master of Education (M. Ed) programs
- One PhD program
Fields considered to be closely related to Counseling are:
- Counseling and Guidance
- Counseling Psychology
- Clinical Psychology
- School Psychology
If you’re lacking required education you can arrange to take supplemental coursework with the CPC.
The US Department of Labor reported the following average annual salaries for different counseling careers, specifically for Missouri:
- Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors – $50,180
- Marriage and Family Therapists – $52,020
- Rehabilitation Counselors – $37,190
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor – $38,790
- Counselors, all others – $39,160
- Occupational Therapists – $79,570
- Therapists, all other – $62,430
Types of Counseling Careers
Of the careers listed above, the US Department of Labor reports a total of 16,730 professionals employed throughout Missouri. Of those:
- 40% are Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors
- 32% are Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
- 13% are Occupational Therapists
- 12% are Rehabilitation Counselors
- 2% are Marriage and Family Therapists
- 1% are Counselors, all others
- 1% are Therapists, all others
Missouri Mental Health Counselors Association (MMHCA) – Providing a members directory and hosting an annual conference are two of the ways the MMHCA connects the counseling community throughout the state. This organization also provides trainings you can take to become a qualified supervisor as an LPC.
American Counseling Association of Missouri (ACAM) – Hosting an annual conference that fulfills up to half of an LPC’s continuing education requirements, membership in this organization ensures you’re up-to-date with the latest legislative developments and best practices in this field.
Missouri School Counseling Association (MSCA) – Committed to personal and professional growth, this organization is more than 1,600 members strong. It offers awards, a multitude of professional resources, and annual events.
Missouri Addiction Counselors Association (MACA) – With its beginnings stretching back to 1971 when it was founded as the Missouri Association of Alcohol Counselors, today MACA has expanded its focus to addictive behaviors and substance abuse, an increase in scope that’s reflected in its name.
Missouri Association for College Admission Counseling (MOACAC) – Helping students get the education they need to inform their lives and land their ideal career is important, and that’s where professionals in this field come in. The MOACAC is dedicated to supporting these counselors through professional development, networking opportunities, and more.
Missouri Department of Mental Health – This is one of the most important state-level agencies for those dealing with issues stemming from substance abuse, developmental disabilities, mental illnesses, and behavioral disorders. It’s also one of the most familiar agencies for PLPCs and LPCs.
Missouri Coalition for Community Behavioral Healthcare – Part professional organization hosting events and advocating for specific legislative actions, this organization also connects clients with services like counseling, residential programs, case management, outpatient services, respite care, and substance abuse rehabilitation.
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Mark Twain Behavioral Health – Serving Northeast Missouri from locations in three different cities, this not-for-profit community clinic strives to promote wellness as clients work towards their individual goals. Services are tailored to youths, families, adults, and couples.
SSM Health – With 11,000 providers, 290 physician offices, 23 hospitals, and nearly 40,000 employees, this not-for-profit healthcare system is one of the most important medical providers in the Midwest. This includes SSM Health Behavioral Health in Jefferson City offering a range of outpatient programs geared towards adults.
Sparlin Mental Health – This St. Louis-based team of LPCs and clinical social workers specializes in providing therapy for families and individuals. Issues it addresses include anxiety, emotional intensity and bi-polar disorder, trauma, relationship difficulties, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.