Individuals may engage in preparatory education programs to prepare for the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification exam. Program offerings include independent study, online practice tests, Web scenario simulators, workshop videos, study manuals and audio books. These certification programs focus on career development and professional orientation to counseling.
To be eligible for the National Certified Counselor credential, individuals must hold at least a master's degree with a concentration in counseling and have two years or more of supervised practical counseling experience. They also need to pass the National Counselor Examination.
Mental Health Counselor Certification
In addition to the general NCC credential, individuals may seek certification for three counseling specialties - addiction, mental health and school counseling. NCC certification is generally voluntary and differs from required state licensing. Common coursework topics may include:
- Counseling and psychotherapy skills
- Abnormal psychotherapy and psychopathology
- Testing and appraisal
- Social and cultural foundations
Popular Career Options
Popular specialty career options for counselors are marriage and family therapist, educational counselor, substance abuse counselor, vocational counselor and a school counselor.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the job outlook for mental health counselors to grow as the demand for the service they provide increases. Jobs in the field are projected to increase by 20% from 2014-2024. The mean annual wage for mental health counselors was $45,080 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
Upon receiving the National Certified Counselor credential, individuals may pursue specialty certification for National Certified School Counselor and Master Addictions Counselor. Every five years, counselors must complete 100 credit hours of continuing education or retake and pass an exam to maintain certification. Other agencies, such as the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification, offer certification for specialty areas.
A mental health counselor certification program is designed for individuals who hold a graduate degree and wish to advance in their careers. Some courses students will complete include abnormal psychotherapy and psychopathology, research, along with testing and appraisal.