How to Become a Counselor in Florida

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Your decision to become a counselor starts you on a path of helping others. Your communication skills, empathy and willingness to listen can help make you an ideal therapist. With academic instruction, you can prepare for a rewarding career in mental health. The Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling in the Department of Health requires you to meet specific qualifications to become a licensed mental health counselor.

Types of Counselor Licenses in Florida

You may seek a license in various areas of specialization when you meet state requirements for education and experience. Your master’s degree provides a starting point for obtaining a counselor license in Florida.

• Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Anyone who has post-master’s degree experience or has held an independent license in another state may apply.

• Registered Clinical Social Worker Intern

The state reserves this license for applicants earning a two-year period of supervised experience after completing a master’s degree.

• Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist

Anyone who has post-master’s degree experience or has held an independent license in another state may apply.

• Registered Marriage & Family Therapist Intern

The state reserves this license for applicants earning two years of supervised experience after completing a master’s degree.

• Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Anyone who has post-master’s degree experience or has held an independent license in another state may apply.

• Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern

The state reserves this license for applicants earning two years of supervised experience after completing a master’s degree.

• Dual Licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist

Candidates currently holding an unencumbered license in Florida in specific specializations may seek a license.

• Limited Licensure

Candidates who have held an unencumbered license under certain conditions outside the state may seek a license.

• Certified Master Social Worker

This license authorizes administrative work, but it does not allow a licensee to perform clinical services.

• Qualified Supervisor

Candidates who want to supervise registered interns earning supervised post-master’s experience may apply.

• Out-of-State Telehealth Provider Registration

Candidates who serve Florida residents remotely may apply.

Instruction Required for Counselor Licensure in Florida

The state requires at least three semester hours or four quarter hours at the graduate level in each of these content areas:

1. Counseling Theories and Practice

2. Human Growth and Development

3. Diagnosis and Treatment of Psychopathology

4. Human Sexuality

5. Group Theories and Practice

6. Individual Evaluation and Assessment

7. Career and Lifestyle Assessment

8. Research and Program Evaluation

9. Social and Cultural Foundations

10. Substance Abuse

11. Legal, Ethical and Professional Standards Issues

Transcripts must clearly identify the content of coursework. The state requires all coursework to address core content in order to count toward requirements. The types of courses that do not meet the state requirement include these:

• research, thesis or dissertation work

• practicums

• internships

• fieldwork

Florida-Specific Requirements

Candidates must have earned a master’s degree in mental health counseling or a closely related field from an institutionally accredited program to qualify for licensing. Coursework must include at least 60 semester hours or 80 quarter hours in required subjects. Transcripts receive a review to verify the degree conferred date, the required courses at the graduate level and the total number of semester hours earned.

Beginning July 1, 2025, applicants must present evidence of earning a master’s degree from a program accredited by specific accrediting bodies. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) provides acceptable verification of the required hours, and the state accepts accreditation by the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) as well. In addition, it may accept the verification by an equivalent accrediting body.

Supervision Hours

Florida requires applicants for licensing as a mental health counselor to have two years of supervised experience by a Board approved qualified supervisor following completion of a master’s degree. The supervisor must document the required hours on the Verification of Clinical Experience Form to make them count toward licensure.

The hours of supervision that meet the state requirement include these:

• Applicants must complete a minimum of 100 hours of supervision in at least 100 weeks.

• Face-to-face client psychotherapy must occur for 1,500 hours.

• Each applicant must receive observation by a supervisor for one hour every two weeks.


Florida requires each applicant to pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE), an exam that the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) developed. An online scheduling tool allows applicants to schedule an exam without prior approval, preventing the need to contact the Board directly.

Online exam registration provides the fastest way to schedule an exam and find an examination site location. The NBCC sends the transcript and scores of applicants who pass to the Florida Board.

Licensure and Fees

Florida charges a fee of $100.00 to apply and an initial licensure fee of $75.00. An unlicensed activity fee of $5.00 brings the total to $180.00. The state does not refund any licensure fees. Applicants must pay $100.00 for a provisional license in addition to a licensure fee and submit it with an application.

Continuing Education Requirements

Licensees receive renewal notification from the state at least 90 days before the expiration date. The renewal process must start before midnight on the day of expiration. Failure to renew either an active or inactive license accordingly puts a license in delinquent status. In addition, the failure of a delinquent licensee to change its status to active or inactive before the current licensure cycle expires makes the license null and void automatically.

When the time comes for renewal, the Division of Medical Quality Assurance at the Department of Health reviews your continuing education records in CE Broker, its electronic tracking system. The process occurs automatically when you renew a license, but some conditions may require your attention. If you have everything you need, the system recognizes your record as complete and lets you renew your license without interruption. However, if you have not completed all the requirements, the system prompts you to enter the missing continuing education hours before you can proceed to renew your license.

The state keeps your current mailing address on file, and your renewal notification depends on it. The automatic notice from the Department of Health cannot occur without it. If you fail to renew your active or inactive license by its expiration date, the state places it in delinquent status. Any licensee who remains inactive for more than two consecutive licensure cycles that occur biennially has options to consider. The procedure to reactivate a license may require a demonstration of competency before resuming active practice. Resumption of an active practice may require the completion of additional reactivation requirements. In addition, any licensee who wants to reactivate a license from a status of inactive or retired must pay additional fees and meet continuing education requirements.

Licensed mental health counselors must obtain 25 general hours of continuing education in these categories to renew a professional license for each biennial renewal cycle. Credits that a licensee obtains from an approved provider go directly to CE Broker, a continuing education tracking system.

• Medical Errors

Licensees must take a two-hour course in medical errors from a provider approved by the Board.

• Ethics and Boundaries or Telehealth

Licensees must obtain three hours of coursework in alternating biennial periods of renewal.

• Laws and Rules

Licensees must earn three hours during every third biennium as part of the 25 general hours requirement.

• Domestic Violence

Licensees need two course hours every third biennium as part of the 25 general hours requirement.

• Qualified Supervisor Training

Licensees who have status as qualified supervisors must earn four course hours as part of the 25 general hours requirement.

The Department of Health helps you keep track of reporting requirements with CE Broker, the continuing education tracking system. You can get a free account that gives you all the information you need. The system lets you see the course name, the provider, the date you completed the course and the hours you earned. Each licensee must maintain the responsibility for ensuring the completion of specific continuing education requirements. The system lets you report any missing credits.

Counselor Salary in Florida

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median wage of $45,760 for substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselor licensees indicates that half the practitioners earn more and half earn less. The salary produces an hourly rate of $23.33.

Becoming a counselor in Florida requires a master’s degree and determination to serve others. You can find the training that helps make it possible at accredited online counseling programs. The flexible structure lets you enhance your knowledge of mental health while continuing to meet your commitments to family and work. Statistics show Florida’s population at more than 21,000,000, an increase of 15% since 2010.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control reflects the need for your services. In 2019, more than 19% of U.S. adults used medication for mental health, received mental health counseling/therapy from a professional or both. The demand for your service in Florida may inspire you to provide the help that others need.

Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?