California Counselor Licensure Requirements

California passed its counselor licensure statute in 2009 and implementation started in 2011. California was the last state in the country to pass a counselor licensure law. An individual licensed under this law will be designated Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. There will be a grandparenting period extending through 2011 and perhaps beyond. This will be for counselors who have already finished their graduate degrees. Information about the law and licensure requirements can be found at managed by CALPCC. This is the California Association for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors and is an excellent, user-friendly resource for information and suggestions about California licensure. The official state government site for licensure is:

For grandparenting purposes, degrees issued prior to January 1, 1996 must consist of a minimum of 30 graduate semester hours and have covered 6 of the 9 core academic areas. Degrees issued after January 1, 1996 must be at least 48 semester hours in length and have covered 7 of the 9 core areas. In addition to the graduate degree, instruction in a number of areas is required before licensure. A survey course in psychopharmacology is required as well as contact hours of instruction in such areas as alcoholism and substance abuse, human sexuality, spousal or partner abuse, child abuse, assessment, and several other areas. Two years of full-time supervised counseling experience post-degree is necessary.

Individuals hoping to grandparent to licensure must achieve passing scores on the National Counselor Exam or Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Exam, and the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam as well as the California jurisprudence and ethics exam.

Individuals who begin graduate study before August 1, 2012 must graduate with a 48 credit hour program which includes a supervised practicum and coursework in 7 of the 9 core areas. An additional 12 credit hours must be earned in such areas as specific treatment issues, special populations, assessment, clinical interventions, and other areas. A minimum of 3,000 hours of post-degree supervised counseling experience is necessary. At least 1,700 hours must be in direct contact with individuals or groups in a clinical setting and 150 hours must be in a hospital or community mental health setting. Exam requirements are the same as for those grandparenting.

A 60 hour graduate program is necessary for those who begin graduate studies after August 1, 2012.

Some universities in California allow for the completion of the National Counselor Exam by their graduate students. For those academic programs that are nationally accredited by Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), students who successfully complete the NCE will become National Certified Counselors through NBCC at graduation if they apply for that credential. Following graduation, they can use the NCE results for licensure. Many universities also use the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) as an exit exam. Because both exams are based on the eight core CACREP areas, preparing for one facilitates preparation for the other. The following universities have an agreement with NBCC to administer the NCE to their students:

California State University Fresno
California State University Sacramento
San Francisco State University
University of San Diego