Human Services Guide

Counseling Licensure in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has requirements that are strict and yet fairly straightforward when compared to many states in that they feature only one level of licensure for counselors. Pennsylvania law provides for one title for the licensed counselor which is known as the Licensed Professional Counselor. Curiously, this title is held by other Mental Health professionals; however this is not particularly relevant to those seeking Counseling licensure.

You will need to complete the following steps to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Pennsylvania:


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  1. Meet the educational requirement of a Master’s in Counseling from an accredited program.
  2. Complete a practicum as well as an internship during your graduate studies.
  3. Pass a criminal background check.
  4. Complete the supervised experience element.
  5. Apply to take your National Counselor Examination (NCE) as administered by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC).
  6. Apply for your Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) title.

Educational Requirements

Pennsylvania requires that you complete the following to meet their educational requirements:

  • Earn your Bachelor’s degree in a behavioral science such as Counseling, Psychology, Social Work, Human Services or Marriage and Family Therapy.
  • Complete a master’s or doctorate degree in professional counseling or a field closely related to professional counseling offered at an accredited institution. (The college or university must hold regional accreditation from an accrediting body recognized by CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation)

Practicum and Internship

You are required to complete a practicum and internship as follows:

  • Two of your semesters must include a practicum that has 100 hours of supervised clinical work.
  • You will then need to complete a 600 hour internship that will require client contact and clinical experience.

Pass a National Certification Examination Recognized by the State Board

The Pennsylvania State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors recognizes the following exams administered by these national certifying agencies as meeting the requirements for state licensure as a professional counselor:

  • NBCC - The National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) OR The Examination for Master Addictions Counselors (EMAC)
  • CRCC - The Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) Examination
  • ATCB - The Art Therapy Credentials Board Certification Examination
  • CBMT - The Board Certification Examination
  • NAMP - The practice examination of psychological knowledge
  • IC&RC - The Advanced Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse Counselor Examination (AAODA)

Supervised Experience

Once you have finished your practicum and internship and have been granted your Graduate degree in Counseling you will be able to start your supervised experience element.

  • You must accumulate 3000 hours of documented experience.
  • Half of the required hours must be completed under the supervision of a qualified supervisor. Your supervisor must be a licensed LPC with at least 5 years of field experience in the preceding 10 years OR hold a similar license (ex: MFT, CSW) along with a master’s degree at minimum and 5 years experience in the preceding 10 years practicing within the field they are licensed.
  • You will need to earn between 600 and 1800 hours per year.
  • Your supervisor should be a currently licensed with Pennsylvania, Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).
  • If you have your Ph.D. you can count 1200 hours of experience as coming from your doctoral degree, and up to an additional 1200 from additional studies you did in post-graduate studies. You will need to discuss with the board the conversion of credit hours to supervised experience hours.

Apply for Your License

All you need to do now is apply for your license.

  • Apply for your title Licensed Professional Counselor title.
  • You can find the form here:

Continuing Education and License Renewal

You must renew your license every two years according to Pennsylvania law. You must be able to show that you have earned Continuing Education credits.

  • You will need to complete 30 hours of continuing education credits.
  • At least 3 CE credits must be in Ethics.

You will want to take the time to at least one per year review any changes to the licensure process and continuing education component by visiting the Pennsylvania State Board of Social Workers, Marriage & Family Therapists, and Professional Counselors website which you can find here:

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