Before you can become fully licensed as an LPC you’ll need to complete a period of supervised work experience as a Registered Intern (RI). This takes at least three years, during which time you can engage in professional counseling under supervision.
To become an RI and subsequently licensed as an LPC you’ll need to complete this basic process:
You’ll need to renew your RI every year. Every six months you and your supervisor will complete a Registered Intern Six-Month Supervised Evaluation & Hours Report that must be submitted to the OBLPCT. To be eligible to renew your RI status you must have a current six-month evaluation and a current Professional Disclosure Statement on file. You can renew through the online licensee portal and the fee is $120.
You must fulfill the LPC supervised experience requirement and become licensed as such within five years of becoming an RI; after five years your RI status cannot be renewed.
As an LPC you can opt to become an OBLPCT-approved supervisor for RIs and have your name added to the supervisor registry. To become an approved supervisor you must:
- Be an actively-licensed LPC for at least three years or earn a supervisor credential from the NBCC
- Complete 30 clock hours of post-master’s degree training in supervision
- Pass the Supervisor’s Law and Rules Exam
- Complete a period of supervised work experience as a supervisor that’s documented on this form: 12 hours of supervised experience and 100 hours of supervision experience over a period of at least two years but not more than five
Once you meet these qualifications you can apply to become a supervisor through the OBLPCT’s online licensee portal.
Renewing your LPC license:
The LPC license expires every year on the last day of your birth month. You can renew through the online licensee portal and the renewal fee is $165. To be eligible for renewal you must complete 40 hours of continuing education every two years; the reporting period for hours of continuing education is on a bi-annual cycle.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Counselor in Oregon?
You’ll need to complete at least six years of education –it takes four years to earn a bachelor’s degree, and around two years to earn a master’s degree in Counseling– to qualify to become an RI. Once you become an RI it will take take you at least three years to complete the necessary supervised experience to become an LPC. That brings your total time investment to nine years. As an LPC, becoming an RI supervisor will take three additional years.
If you’re currently licensed as an LPC in another state, and the education, experience, and examination requirements for your license were equivalent to Oregon’s standards, then you can apply for an Oregon LPC license via reciprocity. If you’ve been a licensed LPC for at least five years in another state, this can be substituted for meeting some of Oregon’s education and experience requirements. You can apply through the step-by-step process listed above. You’ll additionally need to have your out-of-state Board of Counseling official verify your LPC license with the OBLPCT using this form.
Practicums and Internships
To fulfill the education requirement for RI and subsequent LPC licensure, your degree program must include a supervised clinical practicum or internship that’s at least 700 hours, including 280 hours of direct client contact.
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You can gain credit towards fulfilling the LPC’s supervised experience requirement with a practicum or internship that’s part of your degree, of up to one year and additionally 400 hours of supervised direct client contact. To apply for credit use this form and include it with your LPC license application.
You’ll need to pass an OBLPCT-approved competency exam and an Oregon Law and Rules Examination to become a licensed LPC.
The OBLPCT recognizes three exams as fulfilling the competency exam requirement. These are sponsored by national organizations. You’ll need to pass one of the following:
- National Counselor Examination (NCE), sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
- National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE), sponsored by the NBCC
- Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) Examination, sponsored by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC)
All tests are taken on a computer. The NCE exam and CRC Examination are multiple-choice, whereas the NCMHCE gives you 10 clinical simulations and evaluates your responses to questions about these. You’re allocated at least three hours to complete your chosen exam.
You can find detailed information about each exam through the following guides:
Oregon Law and Rules Examination
Once you pass one of the national competency exams the OBLPCT will email you instructions on how to register for this exam. The Oregon Law and Rules Examination asks you questions based on relevant Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS), Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR), and the American Counseling Association (ACA) Code of Ethics. You can find information about those here.
The exam is pass/fail and comprised of true/false, fill-in-the-blank, and multiple-choice questions.
Required Education and Degrees
There are two main routes to fulfilling the education requirement to become an RI and earn subsequent licensure as an LPC. The first and most direct is to earn a counseling program graduate degree from a school that’s accredited by the Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). This must include a course in the diagnosis of mental disorders that’s at least two semester credits.
Right now in Oregon there are nine schools offering 16 programs that are CACREP-accredited. Of these:
- 15 are master’s-level programs
- One is a doctoral-level program
- Two are online programs, including one master’s and one doctoral program
The other route to fulfilling the education requirement is to earn a graduate degree from a program that’s accredited by a regional body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). If you qualify via this route you must ensure your education program is at least 60 semester credits and devotes at least two semester credits to each of the following subjects:
- Counseling theory
- Human growth and lifespan development
- Cultural and social foundations
- Helping relationship
- Group dynamics
- Lifestyle and career development
- Appraisal and diagnosis of individuals
- Evaluation and research
- Professional orientation
Your education program must also include qualifying practicums and/or internships. If your program is CACREP-accredited it’s understood to automatically include these. If you have any coursework deficiencies you can make these up with qualifying graduate study.
Of all states in America, Oregon offers some of the highest average annual salaries for professionals involved in the counseling field. It ranks third nationally for offering the highest average salary for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors. That’s according to a 2020 report from the US Department of Labor, which details the following average annual salaries for these Oregon counseling professions:
- Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors – $63,000
- Marriage and Family Therapists – $60,160
- Rehabilitation Counselors – $44,600
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor – $60,960
- Counselors, all others – $55,240
- Occupational Therapists – $92,730
- Therapists, all other – $51,740
Types of Counseling Careers
The US Department of Labor reports a total of 12,170 counselors employed in the professions detailed above. Of those:
- 46% are Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
- 24% are Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors
- 13% are Rehabilitation Counselors
- 11% are Occupational Therapists
- 3% are Marriage and Family Therapists
- 2% are Counselors, all others
- 2% are Therapists, all others
Oregon Counseling Association (ORCA) – With roots stretching back to what was the Oregon Professional Guidance Association in 1967, the current inception of ORCA dates to 2013 when what was then the state’s counseling association joined forces with the Oregon Mental Health Counselors Association. ORCA puts on an annual conference, maintains career resources and a list of supervisors, hosts events, and engages in advocacy.
Coalition of Oregon Professional Associations for Counseling and Therapy (COPACT) – In recognition of important overlapping issues, this unique organization is dedicated to the betterment of students and professionals practicing as LPCs and marriage and family therapists (LMFTs). COPACT played an important role in upholding the 2010 Practice Act which renewed the right of LPCs and LMFTs to receive insurance reimbursement as core mental health service providers.
Oregon School Counselor Association (OSCA) – With a legacy going back to 1967, today the OSCA is an independent non-profit organization. It provides resources for national events and anti-racism. Members enjoy benefits like a voice at the table for legislative advocacy, a bi-monthly newsletter, and professional development opportunities. OSCA also offers scholarship opportunities.
Pacific Northwest Association for College Admission Counseling – As the state affiliate of its national parent organization, this association seeks to unite addiction professionals from throughout the area with the goal of improving professional standards and promoting advancement. Networking, reduced subscription fees to national publications, advocacy, and free continuing education opportunities are just some of the benefits members enjoy.
Oregon Health Authority (OHA) – As a state-level agency this organization is responsible for the health and well-being of all people across Oregon. Professional counselors are particularly aware of the OHA’s Health Systems Division, which manages programs for behavioral health services, child and family behavioral health, addiction services, and much more.
Portland Mental Health and Wellness – This supportive environment connects a range of different mental health practitioners under one roof. Its team of 38 professionals includes a diverse mix of LPCs, LCSWs, psychologists, and more. Services are offered from three Portland-area locations with an approach that honors the innate wisdom of each client.
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Providence Health and Services – This network of healthcare providers includes hospitals, primary care clinics, and specialty care clinics to name just a few. It is also the largest and most comprehensive provider of behavioral health services in Oregon, offering a primary care clinic, a psychiatry clinic, and outpatient and inpatient options.
Valley Mental Health – Serving clients from infants to the elderly, this Salem-based company is proud to have grown from six employees in 1994 to its current 25 employees and 30 contractors. Its team includes LPCs, alcohol and drug counselors, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, psychiatrists, and more.
Portland Therapy Center – A collective of metro Portland mental health professionals, this is one of the largest organizations of its kind in the state. With 78 areas of specializations, the counselors that are part of this group cover a lot of ground, addressing issues like historical trauma, racial identity, and cultural and systemic oppression, in addition to more traditional topics like anxiety, depression, learning disorders, and PTSD.