How to Become a Counselor in Arkansas

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If you’re interested in starting a career as a counselor in Arkansas, you can take steps to earn your Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) license. This license is only available if you already have a LAC license. The Arkansas Board of Examiners maintains licensing requirements in the state, which means that they are also tasked with setting the counseling therapy education, examination, and supervision requirements. In this guide, you’ll learn how to become a counselor in Arkansas.

Types of Counselor Licenses in Arkansas

There are two types of licenses you can earn as a counselor in Arkansas, which include Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC) licenses. You’ll need to complete a few years of counseling experience with a LAC license before you qualify for an LPC license.

This counseling experience is overseen by a professional with an LPC license. The main difference between these types of licenses is that you’ll be able to add the supervisor designation directly to your LPC license. Additional therapist licenses can be obtained if you meet extra exam, educational, and supervision requirements.

One type of counseling license that Arkansas residents are able to earn is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). These professionals evaluate, treat, and change behaviors among individuals or families with individual and group counseling as well as interpersonal theories. Obtaining this license requires a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling. The steps needed to become an LMFT include:

  • Sent in an application for the Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (LAMFT) license
  • Pass an examination that’s administered by the AMFTRB
  • Submit supporting documentation, which extends to letters of recommendation, a statement of intent, a background check, and the necessary transcripts
  • Send in a supervision agreement
  • Finish around 3,000 hours of LAMFT work experience

Another example of a counselor license you can obtain in Arkansas is a school counselor license. With this license in hand, you can provide counseling services to students in K-12 grades. The subject matter can involve emotional, social, or academic issues. If you want to become a school counselor, you will need a master’s degree in mental health counseling. The steps you should follow to obtain this license include:

  • Go through a background check
  • Pass the school counselor exam and a Principles of Teaching and Learning exam
  • Apply for your school counselor license

Instruction Required for Counselor Licensure in Arkansas

In Arkansas, becoming a licensed counselor requires completing a master’s degree program with a therapy or counseling curriculum. This program must be accredited if you want to qualify for an LPC license. Your curriculum will involve everything from group work to professional orientation. Most programs offer a considerable amount of clinical instruction that includes gaining experience as an intern.

If you want to qualify for the LPC license in Arkansas, your graduate degree program will need to be comprised of at least 60 semester hours and grades of “B” or higher. Three semester credits must also be obtained in such content areas as:

  • Career development
  • Human growth and development
  • Professional identity
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Internship
  • Family and relationships
  • Helping relations
  • Cultural and social diversity
  • Professional identity

Arkansas-specific Requirements

In Arkansas, anyone who wants to earn an LPC license will need to go through a practicum and internship. In regards to the practicum, you’ll need to complete 100 hours of specialized education, which includes 40 hours of service with clients. The internship experience you earn will take around 600 hours and will start immediately following the completion of the practicum. The 600 hours of internship experience includes:

  • Gaining experience in group counseling or individual therapy
  • Performing at least one hour of work each week that’s supervised by a supervisor or program faculty member
  • Around 1.5 hours of group supervision every week
  • A final performance evaluation that assesses how much you’ve progressed and what skills you’ve learned

Obtaining an LPC license means providing a plan on how client records will be handled when you’re no longer a counselor, a statement that you have a professional intent to administer counseling, and at least three reference letters. You’ll also go through a intensive criminal background check to look for any past issues that must be addressed.

If you pass the written exam, an interview will be scheduled by the Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling. This interview is considered an oral exam and needs to be passed if you want to obtain a license.

Supervision Hours

When you’re looking to start a career as an LPC in Arkansas, you’ll need to complete a certain amount of supervised contact with clients while being overseen by a supervisor who is licensed in Arkansas. This individual will also need to have “supervisor” status.

A single year of supervision is viewed as 1,000 client contact hours. The supervision you receive from an LPC must include:

  • Phase I – 100 hours or more of supervision to obtain 1,000 CCH
  • Phase II – 50 hours or more of supervision to obtain 1,000 CCH
  • Phase III – 25 hours or more of supervision to obtain 1,000 CCH

Some of the supervision will occur as group supervision. However, group supervision shouldn’t be higher than 50% of the CCHs you obtain. During Phase I, indirect services can’t be higher than 200 CCH. In Phase II and III, they can’t be higher than 300 CCH. A licensed associate counselor will be given six years to finish their 3,000 CCH. If they don’t, the LAC license won’t be renewed at the end of the two years.


Once you reach Phase III of supervision, you have the option of taking the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam as long as your supervisor provides you with a recommendation. If you’re able to pass this exam, you’ll receive 500 CCH, which will then be applied to your total for Phase III.

When you take the NCMHCE, you’ll be tested on your knowledge of:

  • Consultation
  • Counseling
  • Diagnosis
  • Psychotherapy
  • Assessment
  • Supervision
  • Administration

The exam is comprised of 10 cases involving mental health counseling. You’ll be evaluated on your ability to solve clinical problems with analysis, identification, and treatment.

The National Counselor Examination (NCE) that you’re tasked with taking is a multiple-choice test that requires you to answer 200 questions. It’s given by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). This examination will test your skills and knowledge pertaining to counseling services and everything you learned during your studies.

Licensure and Fees

Gaining the LPC license in Arkansas requires paying application, examination, and renewal fees. There are also some additional licensing expenditures that you may need to pay. These costs are as follows:

  • First LAC or LPC application – $100
  • Application to move from LAC to LPC license – $100
  • Specialization license application – $50
  • Late renewal fees – $100-$200
  • LAC license renewal – $200
  • LPC license renewal – $250

You must renew your LAC or LPC license every two years. The due date is June 30th. Renewing an LPC license in Arkansas also involves paying the aforementioned fees.

Continuing Education Requirements

When you apply to renew your LAC or LPC license, you’ll need to provide proof that you’ve completed 24 or more hours of training or continuing education. The same amount of continuing education is necessary for every renewal period. You could also retake the NCMHCE or NCE exam 12 months before your license is set to expire.

Two of your continuing education hours need to be in ethics. The activities that you perform for continuing education can include attending workshops and conferences, completing a dissertation, taking a leadership role, or offering supervision.

Counselor Salary in Arkansas

The exact salary you can make by working as a counselor in Arkansas largely depends on the type of counselor you wish to be. Once you know how to become a counselor in Arkansas, you should spend some time thinking about what field you’d like to work in. Most of the counselors in Arkansas have a job as guidance, career, or educational counselors. There are a little over 2,000 people working as guidance or educational counselors. This is also the area of counseling where the average salaries are the highest.

When working as a guidance or educational counselor in Arkansas, you can earn just under $55,000. Keep in mind that the average salary for this career is recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). If you’d rather work as a mental health, substance abuse, or behavioral disorder counselor, the average salary is around $48,320. Other counseling fields typically earn less than $40,000 per year. The areas in Arkansas that offer the most employment opportunities include Little Rock, Fayetteville, and Springdale.

Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?