The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) issues the license you need to practice professional counseling throughout the state: the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Before you can become fully licensed you’ll need to apply for an LPC Training License that will allow you to gain the necessary supervised work experience to become an LPC.
Once you become fully licensed as an LPC you can opt to add a psychometric testing endorsement to your scope of practice. This will allow you to use a test instrument for diagnostic and assessment purposes, and involves completing addition education and supervised work experience.
Steps Towards Counseling Licensure Wisconsin
Becoming fully licensed as an LPC is a process that involves these basic steps:
- Earn a qualifying graduate degree in Counseling or a related field that includes a qualifying practicum and internship
- Complete a period of supervised work experience on an LPC Training License
- Pass an approved national examination in counseling
- Apply for an LPC license
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Training License
- Fulfill the education requirement with a qualifying graduate degree in Counseling or a related field. This needs to include a qualifying practicum and internship. Have your school verify your education using this form, which should be returned directly to the DSPS. Also have your school send your official transcripts to the DSPS.
- Find a supervisor and employment site. The purpose of having an LPC Training License is so you can fulfill the supervised experience requirement for becoming an LPC. Once you’ve found a supervisor, have them fill out this form and include it with your LPC Training License application.
- Submit an application for an LPC Training License to the DSPS along with a $62 fee.
- Once you’ve received your license you can start accruing hours to fulfill the LPC supervised experience requirement. In the meantime, remember that the LPC Training License is valid for 48 months. You can renew it by submitting this form to the DSPS along with a $62 renewal fee.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
- Fulfill the supervised experience requirement with your LPC Training License. The amount of supervised experience you must acquire depends on your level of education. Once you’ve completed this your supervisor will submit a copy of this form directly to the DSPS, and you’ll need to submit it with your LPC license application. The supervised experience requirement is:
If you fulfilled the education requirement with a master’s degree: 3,000 hours of post-master’s-degree supervised professional counseling practice, including at least 1,000 hours of face-to-face client contact.
If you fulfilled the education requirement with a doctoral degree: 1,000 hours of supervised professional counseling practice completed during or after earning your doctoral degree.
- Pass an approved national counseling examination. You’ll need to arrange testing through the sponsor of the exam you choose; the DSPS is not involved in this process. Have your exam results forwarded to the DSPS. Passing any one of the following exams with a score of at least 85% will fulfill the exam requirement:
National Counselor Examination (NCE), sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE), sponsored by the NBCC
Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Exam (CRCE), sponsored by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counseling Certification (CRCC)
- You can apply for a temporary LPC license if you’ve met all requirements except having passed a national examination. This allows you to practice as an LPC while you’re waiting to take the national exam. A temporary license expires after nine months or if you fail the national exam. To apply, indicate you’d like a temporary license on the application for LPC licensure.
- Submit an application for LPC licensure to the DSPS, along with a $77 fee. Once the DSPS approves your application it will issue your LPC license.
Adding a psychometric testing endorsement to your LPC license:
As an LPC you can opt to add this qualification onto your scope of practice. To qualify you need to obtain graduate-level education in the following topics, and verify this by submitting this form to the DSPS:
- Descriptive statistics
- Testing of individuals with disabilities
- Reliability and measurement errors
- Demographic variables, including ethnic, racial, gender, cultural, age, and linguistic
- Validity and the meaning of test scores
- Test administrative procedures
- Normative interpretation of test results
- Selection of appropriate tests
You must also complete a period of supervised experience under a licensed psychologist, which is verified with the DSPS by submitting this form.
Renewing Your License
The LPC license expires on February 28th of odd-numbered years. 30 days before this the DSPS will send you a renewal notice that you can use to renew your license. To be eligible for renewal you must attest to completing 30 hours of continuing education during each two-year credential period. At least four of those hours must be in the subject of professional ethics and boundaries.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Counselor in Wisconsin?
You can expect to invest at least 7.5 years into becoming a fully licensed LPC. Fulfilling the education requirement takes at least six years: four years to earn a bachelor’s degree and another two years to complete a qualifying master’s degree. Then you’ll need to complete a period of 3,000 hours of supervised experience, and this takes at least 1.5 years.
You can qualify for an LPC license in Wisconsin if you have an equivalent active license that’s in good standing in another state. The requirements for your out-of-state license must have been substantially equivalent to Wisconsin’s. Indicate that you’re applying for an LPC license via reciprocity on the application you submit to the DSPS. Have your out-of-state Board of Counseling send the Wisconsin DSPS official verification of your license.
As an applicant for licensure via reciprocity, you’re required to take a Wisconsin Jurisprudence Exam that covers the laws and statutes of professional counseling. You’ll receive instructions on how to take this from the DSPS once you submit an application for licensure. The exam is taken through the ParTest Online portal and costs $75.
Practicums and Internships
The degree program you complete to fulfill the education requirement for the LPC Training License and subsequent full LPC licensure must include a qualifying practicum and internship.
The practicum needs to be at least three semester credits. It needs to provide counseling experience, including at least 100 hours of supervised experience and 40 hours of face-to-face client contact.
The counseling internship needs to be at least six semester credits. It must provide 600 hours of supervised experience including at least 240 hours of face-to-face client contact.
During your practicum and internship your supervision will work out to approximately one hour per week of individual supervision and 1.5 hours per week of group supervision.
The DSPS recognizes passing any one of the following three exams with a score of 85% or better as fulfilling the national exam requirement:
- National Counselor Examination (NCE), sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
- National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE), sponsored by the NBCC
- Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Exam (CRCE), sponsored by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counseling Certification (CRCC)
All exams are computer based, and you can register for any exam through its sponsoring organization. You can find more information on each exam by consulting its associated overview guide:
- NCE – 200 multiple-choice questions; three hours and 45 minutes allowed for testing
- NCMHCE – multiple-choice questions where one or many answers may be selected; three hours allowed for testing
- CRCE – 175 multiple-choice questions; 3.5 hours allowed for testing
Required Education and Degrees
To fulfill the education requirement for the LPC Training License and subsequently full licensure as an LPC, you must earn a graduate degree in Professional Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling, or an equivalent field. The DSPS maintains a list of pre-approved qualifying programs. The school where you complete your education must be accredited by a regional body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Your education program must also include a qualifying practicum and internship.
Programs considered to be equivalent to Professional Counseling or Rehabilitation Counseling must be at least 60 semester credits in total, and include classes that are at least three credits covering each of the following topics:
- Human growth and development
- Social and cultural foundations
- Family, partnership, and couples counseling
- Addictions counseling
- Abnormal behavioral and psychology
- Crisis and trauma counseling
- Professional counseling orientation
- Research and evaluation
- Assessment and testing
- Lifestyle and career development
- Group dynamics processing and counseling
- Helping relationship
- Counseling theory or counseling approaches
If you fulfill the education requirement with an equivalent license then you need to fill out this form and include it with your application for the LPC Training License.
The US Department of Labor reported the following average annual salary information for a range of counseling careers, specifically for Wisconsin:
- Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors – $55,610
- Marriage and Family Therapists – $54,390
- Rehabilitation Counselors – $31,840
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor – $44,170
- Counselors, all others – $47,730
- Occupational Therapists – $76,270
- Therapists, all other – $43,510
Types of Counseling Careers
According to the US Department of Labor there are a total of 18,200 professionals throughout Wisconsin employed in the counseling career categories listed above. Of those:
- 34% are Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
- 20% are Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors
- 20% are Occupational Therapists
- 18% are Rehabilitation Counselors
- 4% are Therapists, all others
- 3% are Marriage and Family Therapists
- 2% are Counselors, all others
Wisconsin Counseling Association (WCA) – Offering a directory of vacant job listings, legislative advocacy opportunities, and networking venues like an annual conference and events are just some of the aspects that make the WCA the state’s hub for professional counselors.
Wisconsin School Counselor Association (WSCA) – The WSCA provides a wealth of resources for professionals in this field, including those relating to ethics, online learning, mental health, racial equality, and much more. It hosts annual conferences and events, as well as its own awards and even a scholarship program.
Wisconsin Association for College Admission Counseling (WACAC) – The local affiliate of its national parent organization, the WACAC is comprised of members hailing from professions like community based organizations and secondary schools, in addition to college and university admissions counselors. It hosts annual events, works with legislators, and maintains a job center, all with the ultimate goal of ensuring students achieve their maximum educational, occupational, and personal potentials.
Recovery and Addiction Professionals of Wisconsin (RAP-WI) – This state affiliate, in conjunction with its national parent organization, offers its own certification program with the goal of promoting excellence. It also strives to present a united voice for professionals in this field.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Wisconsin – As a local affiliate based in Madison, this branch shares the same ultimate goal of its national parent: to promote recovery and improve the quality of life for those affected by mental illnesses.
Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) – This state government agency provides services for populations who need them most. It helps people address issues like substance abuse, mental health problems, behavior disorders, housing crises, food insecurity, and more.
West Central Wisconsin Behavioral Health Clinic – Based in Whitehall, this organization offers psychological assessments, consultations, and inpatient services. It also provides alcohol and drug treatment and accepts insurance from over a dozen providers.
Rogers Behavioral Health – With locations in seven different cities throughout Wisconsin, this organization provides services tailored to children, adolescents, and adults. It also hosts clients for residential programs. Originally founded in Wisconsin and now serving eight other states, this not-for-profit organization’s roots stretch back to 1907.
Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan – With 10 office locations throughout the state, this service provider maintains a network of vital healthcare resources. The services it offers include counseling that addresses mental health and school-based issues. It also provides resources for people living with disabilities.
Roots Recovery – Offering sober living, day treatment programs, intensive outpatient programs, and inpatient programs, this Milwaukee-based organization seeks to help its clients take back their lives from addictions. It offers individualized and group programs. Its team of professionals is comprised mainly of LPCs and substance abuse counselors.