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Top 10 Student Counselor Certifications

This article covers the top certifications for student counselors, highlighting their benefits, requirements, and best practices.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications are important for student counselors in the job market because they demonstrate a level of professional knowledge and expertise that is highly regarded by employers. Certifications show potential employers that a student counselor has gone through an approved program and obtained the necessary credentials to provide counseling services. They also indicate that the counselor has completed additional training and/or continuing education related to their field, which can help demonstrate their commitment to staying up-to-date on best practices. By having certifications, student counselors are able to demonstrate that they have met certain standards of practice and have taken the initiative to become well-versed in the field of counseling. This can help them stand out among other applicants and make them more attractive as a potential hire.

The purpose of this article is to review and explain how certifications for Student Counselors can enhance their career prospects.

What are Student Counselor Certifications?

Student counselor certification is a professional credential that demonstrates an individual has the knowledge and skills necessary to provide counseling services to students. This type of certification typically requires the completion of an accredited program or coursework in student counseling, as well as supervised field experiences and a passing score on a licensing exam. The specific requirements vary by jurisdiction, but generally include coursework in psychology, child development, human behavior, ethics and legal issues related to counseling.

Having student counselor certification can improve one’s career prospects and demonstrate their commitment to quality service. Student counselors are often employed in grade schools, high schools, universities, and other educational settings to provide guidance for students. They help students develop strategies for success in school and beyond by providing advice on academic planning, career exploration, social-emotional development, mental health support and more. With the right credentials, these professionals can help prepare students for life after graduation while ensuring they are receiving the best possible education during their time in school.

Pro Tip: Before enrolling in a student counselor certification program, make sure to research the requirements and guidelines of any certifying board that you are interested in. This will ensure that your chosen program meets the necessary standards and can provide you with the proper credentials for working as a student counselor.

Related: What does a Student Counselor do?

Top 10 Student Counselor Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Student Counselors today.

1. National Certified Counselor (NCC)

National Certified Counselor (NCC) is a professional certification in the field of counseling. It is awarded by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) and is recognized as a mark of excellence in the counseling profession.

In order to become an NCC, one must have a master's degree or higher in counseling from an accredited institution and have completed at least 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. Additionally, applicants must pass two examinations: the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) and the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE).

The process to become an NCC can take up to two years to complete depending on how quickly you complete your supervised clinical experience and pass both exams.

To get started, you will need to submit an application with all required documentation to NBCC. The application fee is $195. After submitting your application, you will receive instructions on how to register for the NCE and CPCE exams. The cost for each exam is $185.

Once you have passed both exams, you will be eligible for certification as an NCC. You will then need to submit an additional fee of $195 in order to receive your certificate.

Overall, it costs approximately $570-$575 to become an NCC.

2. Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)

A Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) is a mental health professional who has earned a master’s degree in counseling and has met the requirements of their state to become licensed. LPCs provide counseling services to individuals, couples, families, and groups. They use evidence-based therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and other approaches to help clients learn coping strategies for dealing with mental health issues.

It typically takes two years of graduate school to earn a master's degree in counseling, followed by several months or more of supervised clinical experience before an individual can qualify for licensure. After completing the necessary coursework and fieldwork, applicants must pass a national examination administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). Once they have passed this exam, they must apply for licensure in their state or jurisdiction.

The cost of obtaining an LPC license varies from state to state but generally includes application fees, exam fees, and background check fees. In addition, some states may require continuing education credits each year in order to maintain licensure.

3. Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC)

A Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC) is a professional mental health counselor who has achieved the highest level of certification in the field. The CCMHC credential is awarded by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), which is a nationally recognized certifying body for counseling professionals.

To become a CCMHC, an individual must have a master’s degree in counseling or a related field from an accredited university, complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience, and pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). The NCMHCE is administered by the NBCC and consists of 200 multiple-choice questions that assess knowledge and skills related to clinical mental health counseling.

The process of becoming certified as a CCMHC can take anywhere from two to four years depending on an individual's prior experience and education. To get started, individuals must first apply to take the NCMHCE. Once they have passed the exam, they will need to submit their application for certification along with any required documentation such as transcripts and verification of supervised clinical experience.

The cost of becoming certified as a CCMHC varies depending on where you live and what type of program you are enrolled in. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $1,000-$2,500 for tuition and fees associated with taking the NCMHCE exam and applying for certification.

4. Master Addiction Counselor (MAC)

The Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) credential is a professional certification awarded by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). It is designed to recognize those counselors who have achieved a high level of knowledge, skill, and experience in the field of addiction counseling. The MAC credential requires that applicants meet certain educational requirements and pass a comprehensive exam.

In order to become certified as a MAC, applicants must first possess a master’s degree in counseling or psychology from an accredited college or university. They must also have at least two years of supervised clinical experience in the field of addiction counseling. In addition, they must complete 45 hours of continuing education courses related to addiction counseling within the past five years.

Once these requirements are met, applicants can apply for the MAC certification exam. The exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately four hours to complete. Applicants must receive a score of at least 70% to pass the exam and become certified as a MAC.

The cost of taking the MAC certification exam varies depending on where you take it; however, it typically costs around $400-$500 USD. After passing the exam, there is an annual fee of $100 USD for maintaining your certification status.

5. National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)

The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) is a non-profit, independent certification organization that sets the standards for professional counseling. The NBCC offers national certifications in several areas of counseling, including mental health counseling, school counseling, marriage and family therapy, and rehabilitation counseling.

To become certified by the NBCC, you must meet certain eligibility requirements and pass an exam. To be eligible to take the exam, you must have a master's degree or higher in a counseling-related field from an accredited institution and have completed at least 3,000 hours of post-master's supervised experience in direct client contact.

The exam consists of two parts: the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and the Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (CMHCE). The NCE covers topics such as human growth and development, helping relationships, group work, assessment techniques, research methods and program evaluation. The CMHCE covers topics such as diagnosis and treatment planning; clinical interventions; legal and ethical issues; professional identity; cultural diversity; crisis intervention; consultation; supervision; advocacy; prevention strategies; and research. Both exams are offered twice a year at test centers around the country.

The cost to take the NCE is $195 while the cost to take the CMHCE is $295. After passing both exams with a score of 600 or higher on each part, you will become a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). You will then need to submit proof of your supervised experience in order to receive your certificate.

Once you are certified by NBCC, you will need to renew your certification every five years by completing continuing education credits or retaking either one or both parts of the exam. The fee for recertification is $125 per year for each part passed ($250 total).

6. Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC)

A Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) is a professional counselor who specializes in helping individuals with physical, mental, developmental, and emotional disabilities. CRCs work with clients to identify their needs and develop an individualized plan for achieving their goals. They provide counseling services to help individuals gain independence and become productive members of society.

In order to become a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), one must first earn a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling or a related field from an accredited university or college. After graduating from the program, individuals must pass the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE). Once the NCE is passed, applicants can apply for certification through the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC).

The cost of becoming a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) varies depending on the individual's school and program chosen. The CRCC also charges a fee for application processing, which is currently $375 USD. Additionally, there may be other costs associated with taking the NCE exam such as registration fees and study materials.

Overall, it typically takes around two years to complete all of the requirements necessary to become a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC).

7. Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)

A Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) is a mental health professional who has been licensed by their state to provide counseling services to individuals, families, and groups. LMHCs are trained in a variety of evidence-based therapeutic techniques and interventions to help clients address mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, relationship problems, and more.

In order to become an LMHC, individuals must complete the following steps:

1. Earn a master’s degree in counseling or a related field from an accredited college or university.

2. Complete supervised clinical experience hours under the supervision of an approved supervisor.

3. Pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE).

4. Apply for licensure with your state board of mental health counselors and pay the required fees.

5. Meet any other requirements set forth by your state board of mental health counselors.

The amount of time it takes to become an LMHC depends on individual circumstances such as the type of program you choose and how quickly you complete all necessary steps for licensure. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from two to five years to become an LMHC depending on these factors.

The cost of becoming an LMHC also varies depending on individual circumstances such as tuition rates at your chosen school and any additional fees associated with licensure applications or exams like the NCMHCE. In general, it can cost anywhere from $2,000-$10,000+ USD to become an LMHC depending on these factors.

8. Certified School Counselor (CSC)

Certified School Counselor (CSC) is a professional designation given to school counselors who have met the requirements of the National Board for Certified Counselors. The CSC credential demonstrates that the counselor has attained a high level of competency in school counseling and has demonstrated an understanding of the ethical, legal, and professional standards necessary to practice in this field.

It typically takes two years to complete all of the requirements for certification. This includes completing graduate-level coursework in school counseling, passing a comprehensive exam, and completing supervised practicum or internship hours in a school setting.

To get certified as a CSC, you must first apply to take the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) exam. Once your application is approved, you will be sent an authorization letter with instructions on how to register for the exam. After passing the exam, you will then need to submit proof of completion of all required coursework and supervised practicum or internship hours.

The cost of becoming certified as a CSC varies depending on where you live and what type of program you are enrolled in. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $500-$1,000 for tuition and fees associated with taking the NBCC exam as well as completing any additional coursework or practicum/internship hours required by your state or program.

9. American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Approved Supervisor (AAMFT-AS)

The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Approved Supervisor (AAMFT-AS) is a credential awarded by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). This credential is designed to recognize marriage and family therapists who have met the highest standards of professional practice in providing clinical supervision. The AAMFT-AS credential demonstrates that a therapist has achieved a level of excellence in providing clinical supervision to marriage and family therapy trainees.

In order to become an AAMFT-AS, an individual must meet certain criteria established by the AAMFT. These criteria include: being licensed as a marriage and family therapist for at least five years; having completed at least 500 hours of direct clinical supervision; having completed at least 30 hours of continuing education related to clinical supervision; and passing an exam administered by the AAMFT.

The process of becoming an AAMFT-AS can take up to two years, depending on how quickly an individual meets the requirements. In order to begin the process, individuals must first submit an application to the AAMFT. Once their application is approved, they will be required to complete all necessary coursework and exams before receiving their credential.

The cost of becoming an AAMFT-AS varies depending on where you live and what courses you take. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $500-$2,000 for all necessary coursework and exams. Additionally, there is an annual fee associated with maintaining your credential which can range from $50-$100 per year.

10. International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium Credentialing for Addiction Professionals (IC&RC-CAP).

The International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium Credentialing for Addiction Professionals (IC&RC-CAP) is a certification program that provides professional recognition to addiction professionals who meet the standards of practice and ethical guidelines established by the IC&RC. The IC&RC-CAP credential is recognized in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and other countries around the world.

To receive the IC&RC-CAP credential, applicants must demonstrate that they have met specific educational requirements, completed supervised clinical experience hours, passed an examination, and abide by a code of ethics. Applicants must also provide documentation of their education and experience in order to be eligible for certification.

The process of obtaining the IC&RC-CAP credential typically takes 3–6 months from start to finish. Applicants must first register with their local IC&RC member board or organization before they can begin the application process. Once registered, applicants will need to submit an application packet that includes proof of education and experience as well as a copy of their exam results.

Once all required documentation has been received and reviewed by the IC&RC board or organization, applicants will be notified if they have been approved for certification or not. If approved, applicants will receive their certificate within 2–3 weeks after approval.

The cost to obtain the IC&RC-CAP credential varies depending on each individual’s circumstances; however, most applicants can expect to pay between $200-$500 in fees associated with registration, examination costs, and other administrative costs.

Do You Really Need a Student Counselor Certificate?

It depends on the type of counseling you are interested in pursuing. If you want to become a school counselor, certified or otherwise, then a student counselor certificate is likely required. Most states and employers require that school counselors hold a master's degree in counseling and have completed at least three years of supervised experience. Depending on where you live, the requirements may vary, so it is important to research the specific requirements for your state.

In addition to being required for certain positions, having a student counselor certificate can also help you stand out from other applicants when looking for jobs. It shows that you have taken the time to invest in your education and training and understand the importance of providing quality counseling services. It can also be beneficial if you are seeking promotion within an organization or moving into administrative roles within the field of counseling.

Having a student counselor certificate may also make it easier for you to find employment as many employers prefer hiring those with credentials they recognize and trust. Additionally, having certification can show potential employers that you are committed to continuing your education and professional development in order to stay up-to-date with industry standards and best practices.

Overall, whether or not you need a student counselor certificate depends on what type of counseling position you would like to pursue in the future. While it may not be necessary for all positions, having this certification can often be beneficial as it demonstrates commitment to professional growth as well as providing potential employers with assurance that you are qualified for the job.

Related: Student Counselor Resume Examples

FAQs About Student Counselor Certifications

Q1. What is a student counselor certification?

A1. A student counselor certification is a professional credential that certifies an individual as qualified to provide counseling services to students. The certification typically involves completing coursework, passing an exam, and demonstrating experience in the field of student counseling.

Q2. How do I become certified as a student counselor?

A2. To become certified as a student counselor, you must complete the necessary coursework, pass an exam, and demonstrate experience in the field of student counseling. Additionally, each state has its own requirements for certification so it’s important to research your state’s requirements before applying for certification.

Q3. What types of courses are required for certification?

A3. The courses required for certification vary depending on the type of certificate or degree you are pursuing, but typically will include topics such as psychology, social work, human development and family studies, education, and counseling theory and practice.

Q4. How long does it take to get certified?

A4. The amount of time needed to obtain certification depends on factors such as the type of certificate or degree you are pursuing and how much experience you have in the field of student counseling before beginning your program of study; however, most programs can be completed within two years or less if taken full-time.

Q5. Is there continuing education required after becoming certified?

A5 Many states require counselors to complete continuing education units (CEUs) annually in order to maintain their license or certification status; however, the specific requirements vary by state so it’s important to check with your state’s licensing board for more information regarding CEUs and other renewal requirements prior to applying for renewal of your license or certificate.