Mental Health Counselor Certification and Education Programs

Mental health counselor certification and education programs educate students on the different counseling techniques. Prior to seeking national certification, students usually have their master's or Ph.D.

Essential Information

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.

  • Program Levels in Mental Health Counseling: Certificate programs
  • Prerequisites: Individuals usually have their master's or Ph.D. before entering a certificate program
  • Online Availability: Online practice tests offered through some programs
  • Other requirements: Must have two years or more of supervised practical counseling experience

Mental Health Counselor Certification

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. 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
  • Research
  • 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 29% from 2012-2022. The mean annual wage for mental health counselors was $43,990 as of May 2014 (

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.

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