Licensure and Certification

Understanding licensure and certification is important to making good decisions about working toward your own individual credentials. Licensure and certification are two different types of credentials for counselors. Basically, a license is legal permission for you to call yourself a professional counselor in a particular state and provide independent counseling services. In order to provide counseling independently, you will need to obtain a license issued by a regulatory board of your state after you graduate. Licensure is regulated at the state level, and each state’s licensure varies, including qualifications, names of the license, and tiers. You can locate your state’s requirements through the American Counseling Association website: http://

Certification, on the other hand, is recognition that you have met minimum training standards for counseling specializations as established by a national certifying board that is independent of state licensure. The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) provides certification for National Certified Counselors (NCC). It is the leading certification for counselors, demonstrating that they have met national standards for the practice of counseling. It is NOT a license to practice. Unlike a license, it follows you from state to state because it is a national certification and is helpful in the licensure process (NBCC, 2015). NBCC offers four certifications: one general certification and three specialty certifications (Box 4.5). You must hold a general NCC certification in order to have a specialty certification. Information about counselor certification and licensure will be discussed in more detail in chapter 9.

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