Counseling Degrees & Licenses in California

Pursuing a counseling degree or license for work in California makes sense, both as a stable career and as a way to help people needing quality care for mental health disorders. California is the nation’s most populous state, and according to 2022 data by the California Health Care Foundation, nearly one in seven California adults experience a mental illness of some kind. One in 26 people there has an issue serious enough to affect their daily life.

California organization Resource To Recover says that less than 40 percent of adults in California with mental illness actually receive treatment. With a population of nearly 39 million people, that number represents a gap in services for a large percentage of people in need. According to 2018 data from the Healthforce Center at the University of California – San Francisco, there are a few reasons for this disparity.

While access to insurance coverage for healthcare has continued to increase, mental health providers are not dispersed evenly over the state. In 2016, California had more than 80,000 licensed behavioral health professionals, but the data shows a lack of diversity within these professionals that doesn’t correlate to the state’s population diversity.

In addition, it is estimated that many of these professionals will be retiring over the next few years. It is believed that the number of mental health professionals who can dispense medication will decrease by 34 percent between 2016 and 2028, making an already-obvious shortage of providers even more acute. Also, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2023), careers in mental health, behavioral disorders, and substance abuse are expected to grow 18 percent nationally between 2022 and 2032, more than four times faster than the average for all occupations during the same decade (3 percent).

In California, psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses are the only mental health providers able to offer both therapy and medication prescriptions. Clinical psychologists, licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs), licensed professional clinical counselors (LPCCs), and licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) provide therapy only. Psychiatric nurses and clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) provide direct care to patients.

Read on to discover how to join various counseling careers in California, including detailed information about academic programs and licensing.

Featured Counseling Programs
Abilene Christian University Online Master of Marriage and Family TherapyProgram Website
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Our Lady of the Lake University Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health CounselingProgram Website
Our Lady of the Lake University Master of Arts in Clinical Rehabilitation CounselingProgram Website
Our Lady of the Lake University Master of Arts in School CounselingProgram Website
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Accredited Counseling Degree Programs in California

University of Southern California – Rossier School of Education (Online)

Rossier offers an online master of education in school counseling, designed to prepare graduates for a career as a counselor in a K–12 school setting. Although the school is located in Los Angeles, anyone from around the country can enroll in the online counseling program. In addition to online courses, students will complete fieldwork in a K–12 school in or near their own community. This online degree program is structured around three key focus areas: trauma-informed practice; restorative justice; and college and career readiness.

Requirements for this master’s degree are a 100-hour practicum and a 700-hour internship. A full- or part-time option is available, leading to a degree in two to three years. A full-time student could achieve a master’s degree in as few as five terms. This online program allows start dates three times throughout the year (January, May, and August).

This 49-credit program includes courses such as interrogating systems of inequity in professional practice; introduction to school counseling; legal & ethical issues in counseling; theories in counseling; counseling and collaborative consultation in the school setting; cross-cultural counseling; substance abuse; and family counseling.

  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC); California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 49 units, two years, full- or part-time option
  • Estimated Tuition: $109,956 total tuition

Northcentral University (Online)

NCU offers weekly start dates for their 100 percent online master of arts in marriage and family therapy program. No GRE, GMAT, or other graduate school entrance examination is required, but a previous bachelor’s degree from an approved institution is. NCU’s program is the first fully remote program to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). It’s also accredited by the International Accreditation Commission for Systemic Therapy Education (IACSTE), ensuring that students receive the high-quality training necessary to be effective marriage and family therapists.

For students eager to begin working directly with clients, NCU students can begin practicing as soon as they’ve completed the first six fundamental courses. Most students will start seeing clients as part of their practicum experience between the sixth and ninth courses. It is also possible to complete all the content courses first and then start the practicum experience. The program has several specialization options in child and adolescent family therapy; couple therapy; general family therapy; medical family therapy; military family therapy; systemic sex therapy; systemic treatment of addictions; trauma-informed systemic therapy; and LGBTQ couple and family therapy.

The program comprises 15 to 22 courses, or 45 credits, which can be completed in 33 months. Master’s students can find a practicum experience in their local area, while also conducting online sessions via video conferencing. Courses include foundations for graduate study in marriage and family therapy; treatment planning and traditional family therapy; recovery-oriented care and postmodern family therapy; systemic evaluation and case management; family therapy with children; systemic interventions in addictions; and assessing and treating family violence.

Northcentral University also offers a fully online master of science program in clinical mental health counseling that consists of 60 credits.

  • Location: San Diego, California
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC); International Accreditation Commission for Systemic Therapy Education (IACSTE); Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: MA-MFT (45 credits, 33 Months); MS-CMHC (60 credits, 32 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: MA-MFT ($913 per credit); MS-CMHC ($635 per credit)

University of San Diego – School of Leadership and Education Science

The University of San Diego offers a traditional master of arts in two programs—clinical mental health counseling (CMHC) and school counseling (SC). Both programs are accredited by CACREP. The school also offers a COAMFTE-accredited master of arts program in marital and family therapy (MFT)—plus a certificate in international school counseling. All MA programs are for two years. Prior to 2019, the CMHC program was a three-year program. In order to complete the program within two years, students are expected to take four classes all year round.

The school counseling option offers three tracks:

  • Pupil Personnel Services (PPS), 60 units – Authorizes specializations in school counseling, school social work, school psychology, and school child welfare and attendance services.
  • School-Based Clinical Counseling, 60 units – Where students have met the requirements to receive a PPS credential and are eligible for licensure as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC).

There are some differences between the CMHC and the MFT program. The CMHC does not require a graduate school entrance exam, while the MFT program does. Both graduates are eligible for licensure following 3,000 supervised hours; the MFT graduate requires 1,000 supervised hours to be completed within the 3,000 hours of the program.

  • Location: San Diego, California
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC); CMHC is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP); MFT is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE); SC is accredited by Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 60 credits, two years
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,602 per credit

Sonoma State University

Sonoma State University is one of the smallest California public university systems, but it has two options for its master of arts in counseling students. Two 60-credit professional training options are available:

  • Option I prepares students for Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) and eventual licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) and/or as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC). Fulfilling the MA requirements for CMHC requires passing the CMHC Exit Exam, along with 600 hours of supervised field experience. Courses include clinical diagnosis & treatment planning; theory and practice of group counseling; counseling diverse couples & families; counseling orientation, law & ethics & case management practices; and relationship & sexuality counseling.
  • Option II prepares students for the School Counseling and the Pupil Personnel Services credential. This track requires careful planning to complete within two years along with the PPS credential, because PPS courses may not be available more than once yearly. Candidates must complete at least 800 clock hours in an elementary school, junior high, or high school. Courses include introduction to school counseling; pupil personnel services: concepts and organization; working with families in a school setting; counseling children and adolescents; and group counseling in the schools.

Traditional, in-person classes are available to students with either a BA or BS degree. School Counseling students should have a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than education.

  • Location: Rohnert Park, California
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC); Clinical mental health counseling (Master’s in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC)); school counseling (California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC))
  • Expected Time to Completion: CMHC (24-month, 30-month, or 36-month programs are available); SC (24 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: $2,082 to $3,588 per semester

San Francisco State University – College of Science and Engineering

The SFSU Department of Counseling offers three master’s degrees:

  • A master of science in counseling with four specializations: career, college, gerontological, and school counseling. School counseling students are eligible for the PPS credential.
  • A master of science in counseling with a concentration in marriage, family, and child counseling
  • A master of science with a concentration in clinical mental health counseling

These credentials would provide a solid foundation for working in any field related to mental health. The gerontology specialization, in particular, holds promise as the United Nations reports that the number of people around the world aged 80 years or over is projected to triple, from 143 million in 2019 to 426 million in 2050.

The clinical mental health counseling program in particular includes courses such as theories of counseling & psychotherapy; biopsychosocial aspects of health, behavioral health, aging & disability; assessment in counseling; psychopharmacology; addictions; crisis counseling; group counseling; and professional issues, clinical case management & systems of care.

  • Location: San Francisco, California
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC); Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP); California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 60 credits, two or three years
  • Estimated Tuition: Six units or less ($2,805); six units or more ($4,203); plus fees

California State University – Los Angeles

Many California State University campuses across the state offer counseling programs, but not all campuses offer the same programs. The Los Angeles campus offers a master of science in counseling, with an option to specialize in rehabilitation counseling. CACREP accredits this option. The program prepares graduates for careers that involve assisting people with disabilities to live fulfilling lives. Addressing the psychological, social, and medical aspects of disability, the program’s curriculum uses a holistic approach.

Admitting just 36 students each fall for full-time graduate study, this program currently has two full-time faculty members as well as six adjunct faculty members. Comprising 70 to 74 credits, the program includes courses such as multicultural counseling; diagnosis and treatment in counseling; case management in counseling; advanced theories and techniques in counseling; introduction to rehabilitation counseling; medical and psychosocial aspects of disability; trauma and crisis counseling; and substance use and co-occurring disorders counseling.

Other options in the master of science in counseling program include applied behavior analysis, school-based family counseling (MFT with PPS credential in school counseling), and school psychology (with PPS credential in school psychology).

  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC); National Association of School Psychologists (NASP); Commission on Teacher Credentialing Committee on Accreditation (CCTC); Association for Behavior Analysis: International (ABAI); Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 70 to 74 credits, three years, full-time
  • Estimated Tuition: Contact the university for details

California State University – San Bernardino

The CACREP-accredited master of arts program in rehabilitation counseling prepares graduates to work with individuals with disabilities in public and private rehabilitation agencies, hospitals, industry, and related fields. This three-year program trains graduates in vocational evaluation, rehabilitation counseling, and job placement of persons with disabilities. The program’s coursework prepares them to take the nationally certified rehabilitation counselor examination.

Made up of 60 credits, the program includes courses such as introduction to rehabilitation counseling; medical aspects of disability across the life span; counseling theories and psychosocial aspects in rehabilitation; addictions & co-existing disabilities; multicultural rehabilitation counseling; psychiatric rehabilitation diagnosis & psychopharmacology; theory and practice of group counseling in rehabilitation; and assessment, research & program evaluation.

Additionally, CSUSB offers a master of science in counseling, including two concentrations: one in professional counseling and one in school counseling; each is a stand-alone degree of 60 units. Students with a concentration can apply to become Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC) or achieve a PPS credential allowing them to work as a school counselor in grades K-12. Students may also choose to combine concentrations for a total of 72 credits.

  • Location: San Bernardino, California
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC); Rehabilitation counseling(Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)); Commission on Teacher Credentialing Committee on Accreditation (CCTC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 60 credits, three years
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident ($8,970 per year); non-resident ($21,532 per year)

Alliant International University

Alliant International University’s California School of Professional Psychology offers a CACREP-accredited master of arts program in clinical mental health counseling. Students in this program will develop expertise and skills in diagnosing, professional counseling, guiding, and treating groups and individuals as they work to grow, overcome disability, and embrace change. Graduates will gain hands-on experience by counseling individuals who are struggling with depression, anxiety, loss, grief, infidelity, anger management, and other similar issues. Notably, this program can be completed online or on campus.

Made up of 60 credits, the program includes courses such as counseling theories; professional counseling orientation, law, and ethics; counseling research methods and program evaluation; assessment in clinical counseling; psychopathology, diagnosis, and treatment planning; multicultural counseling and techniques; chemical dependence and addiction issues; and sexuality and sex therapy. Upon completion, graduates will receive a total of 700 hours of clinical experience in family counseling, group counseling, and individual counseling. Of these, a minimum of 280 hours will be directly supervised clinical experiences.

Notably, Alliant International University also offers a 60-credit COAMFTE-accredited marriage and family therapy master’s degree program which can be completed online or on-campus as well as an online 49-credit CCTC-accredited master of arts in education with a PPS credential in school counseling degree program.

  • Location: Fresno, CA
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC); Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP); Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE); California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Clinical mental health counseling and marriage and family therapy (60 credits); school counseling (49 credits); two years
  • Estimated Tuition: Clinical mental health counseling ($762 per credit); school counseling ($792 per credit); marriage and family therapy (online: $1,008 per credit; on-campus: $1,298 per credit)

Concordia University Irvine

Concordia University Irvine’s Townsend Institute offers a CACREP-accredited master of arts program in counseling focusing on clinical mental health. Designed to be completed online or on-campus, this program helps students acquire the knowledge and skills required for engaging with people who are struggling with issues such as anxiety, depression, addictions, or relational problems on a deeply attuned level.

The program’s 60-credit curriculum includes courses such as clinical psychopathology and diagnosis; foundations of crisis and trauma counseling; foundations of addiction counseling; foundations and contextual dimensions of mental health counseling; foundations of marriage and family therapy; foundations of play therapy; theories of counseling; and methods and practice of research and evaluation.

The university also offers a master of arts in education program in school counseling that consists of 48 credits. This program is offered online and in a blended format.

  • Location: Irvine, CA
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC); Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Clinical mental health (60 credits, 24 to 36 months); school counseling (48 credits, 26 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: Clinical mental health ($695 per credit); school counseling ($665 per credit)

Saybrook University

Saybrook University’s hybrid online master’s degree in counseling with a clinical mental health counseling specialization prepares graduates with the knowledge and skills to work competently in the clinical mental health counseling field. This low-residency program includes 700 hours of field experience and all students will be required to participate in two five-day-long required residential conferences per year.

Comprising 60 credits, the program includes courses such as basic counseling skills; counseling theories; structure & dynamics of the family; psychopathology and diagnosis; human sexuality; crisis and trauma intervention; group counseling and psychotherapy; advanced child and adolescent therapy; and substance abuse and behavioral addictions.

  • Location: Pasadena, CA
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC); Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 60 credits, three years
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,334 per credit

How Much Do Counselors Make in California?

These numbers represent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from May 2022—the latest data available as of September 2023.

Marriage and Family Therapist Salaries

United StatesCalifornia
Number employed62,08028,910
Average annual salary (mean)$63,300$65,320
10th percentile$36,840$37,380
25th percentile$44,730$44,730
50th percentile (median)$56,570$56,890
75th percentile$75,220$75,190
90th percentile$98,700$105,650

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor Salaries

United StatesCalifornia
Number employed344,97036,100
Average annual salary (mean)$56,230$64,460
10th percentile$34,580$37,860
25th percentile$39,810$45,130
50th percentile (median)$49,710$56,060
75th percentile$64,400$80,010
90th percentile$82,710$102,940

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselor and Advisor Salaries

United StatesCalifornia
Number employed308,00036,440
Average annual salary (mean)$64,200$81,100
10th percentile$38,280$47,420
25th percentile$47,380$58,330
50th percentile (median)$60,140$72,240
75th percentile$76,590$101,220
90th percentile$98,530$130,020

Rehabilitation Counselor Salaries

United StatesCalifornia
Number employed82,42010,930
Average annual salary (mean)$46,020$44,790
10th percentile$29,120$31,060
25th percentile$33,790$33,540
50th percentile (median)$39,990$37,760
75th percentile$53,470$48,650
90th percentile$71,270$70,920

All Other Counselors

United StatesCalifornia
Number employed37,27016,120
Average annual salary (mean)$49,770$44,240
10th percentile$31,930$35,610
25th percentile$36,730$36,670
50th percentile (median)$43,390$38,930
75th percentile$52,770$45,770
90th percentile$75,340$56,900

Mental Health Counseling (LMHC) Licenses in California: Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Board of Behavioral Science

Counselors in California must first earn the Associate Professional Clinical Counselor (APCC) certification. Once the supervised work experience is complete, they may apply to be a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC).

Requirements to be an APCC include:

  • Completing an approved master’s degree in counseling of at least 60 semester- or 90 quarter-credits. The program must include a practicum of at least 280 supervised hours of direct client contact.
  • Registering with the BBS as an APCC
  • Completing a Live Scan Department of Justice background check
  • Passing an additional state background check
  • Taking and passing the California Law and Ethics Exam annually
  • Pay $150 fee

Once registered as an APCC, professionals can begin accruing the necessary 3,000 hours of supervised work experience. Of those hours, 1,750 must be in direct counseling, and the remaining 1,250 in non-clinical experiences such as supervision, writing reports, or administering tests. These hours must be accrued in a minimum of two years.

Upon completion of the hours, counselors may apply for LPCC licensure. The BBS will then provide the approval to take the NCMHCE exam through the NBCC. Once candidates have passed the exam, they may request LPCC licensure from the BBS. The fee is $250.

California requires APCCs and LPCCs to renew their license every two years. Renewals are due during the counselor’s birth month.

In order to renew, counselors must:

  • Submit an online renewal
  • Complete 36 continuing education hours. Only 18 hours are required for the initial license. Six of those hours must be in law and ethics
  • Pay the $150 fee for APCCs and $200 for LPCCs

School Counseling Licenses in California

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
State of California Commission on Teacher Credentialing

The State of California Commission on Teacher Credentialing issues a Pupil Personnel Services Credential with a specialization in school counseling.

Applicants for this credential must:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Complete 48 semester hours of post-baccalaureate education in school counseling, including a supervised field experience with school-age children (CACREP accreditation meets all curriculum requirements, otherwise students must provide proof of field experience)
  • Obtain the formal recommendation of a California college or university with a Commission-approved Pupil Personnel Services program specializing in school counseling
  • Meet the Basic Skill requirement
  • Submit a completed application
  • Complete a Live Scan background check
  • Pay $100 application fee

Candidates who hold the ”National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in the area of Early Childhood to Young Adulthood – School Counseling” certification may apply directly to the board for Pupil Personnel Services Credential by supplying proof of National Board Certification, submitting an application, and paying the $100 application fee.

The Pupil Personnel Services Credential with a specialization in school counseling must be renewed every five years. There are no continuing education requirements and the fee to renew is $100.

Substance Abuse Counseling Licenses in California

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

California Association for Alcohol/Drug Educators (CAADE)

California Association of DUI Treatment Programs (CADTP)

California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP)

There are three main certifying agencies for California. They are California Association for Alcohol/Drug Educators (CAADE), California Association of DUI Treatment Programs (CADTP), and California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP).

CAADE’s Addiction Counselor Certification Board of California (ACCBC) offers six levels of Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor (CATC) certification. Initial CATC certification requires:

  • A completed substance abuse counselor certificate or degree program in alcohol and drug studies or addiction from an accredited institution (at least 30 semester credits)
  • 2,240 hours of supervised clinical work experience in substance abuse counseling
  • Passing score on the CATC Exam
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A completed application
  • $185 application fee

Increased education allows candidates to earn higher levels of certification. There is a $50 fee to upgrade a certification. Education requirements are:

  • CATC I-30 Unit Community College Alcohol and Other Drug Certificate
  • CATC II – Associate Degree
  • CATC III – Bachelor’s Degree
  • CATC IV – Master’s Degree
  • CATC V – Doctoral Degree
  • CATC N – Nursing Degree

CADTP issues a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Counselor certification. The requirements are:

  • A $75 registration fee
  • Signed code of conduct/ethics
  • Copy of a driver’s license
  • 2×2-inch photo
  • A completed nine-hour orientation course

Within five years, SUD counselors must complete:

  • 315 hours of formal SUD related education
  • 2,080 hours of related work experience, of which 160 hours of supervised practicum
  • The IC&RC ADC exam with a passing score

Increasing work experience and education can allow counselors to pursue more advanced SUD certification and even supervisor credentials.


CCAPP certifies Registered Alcohol Drug Technicians (RADT), Certified Alcohol Drug Counselors at three levels (CADT), and Licensed Advanced Alcohol Drug Counselors (LAADC).


To earn RADT certification, candidates must:

  • Complete a nine-and-a-half-hour orientation course in ethics
  • Submit a RADT application
  • Sign the California SUD Counselor Code Of Conduct
  • Sign a RADT Scope of Practice
  • Pay $50 application fee

CADT certificate applicants must meet RADT requirements, as well as:

  • Complete 315 of hours approved, AOD specific education
  • Complete 255 of hours supervised practicum work experience
  • Pass the IC&RC ADC Written Exam
  • Complete 3,000 hours of supervised work experience
  • Pay $100 portfolio processing fee and $150 exam fee

CADT-II requires 6,000 hours of work experience or a bachelor’s in behavioral science or allied mental health profession and 4,000 hours of work experience.


CADT-III requires a bachelor’s in behavioral science or allied mental health profession and 4,000 hours of work experience.

LAADC certificate candidates must meet the RADT and CADT requirements, in addition to having:

  • A master’s degree in behavioral science or allied mental health profession with 300 hours of substance use disorder specific education including six hours of ethics
  • 4,000 hours of work experience
  • A passing score on the IC&RC AADC Written Examination

CAADE requires its counselors to renew their certificates every two years. Renewals cost between $35 to $200 and must be accompanied by 40 continuing education hours. Nine hours must be in addiction-specific laws and ethics.

CADPT renewals are due annually for SUDs who are completing their education requirements. They are required to submit:

  • Registration Renewal Form Completed
  • A $25 renewal fee
  • Three hours of Ethics Training and three hours of confidentiality training
  • Signed Code of Conduct and Ethics
  • Proof of progress towards certification within the last 12 months

CADPT SUD counselors who have full certification are required to recertify bi-annually by submitting the following:

  • Certification Renewal Form
  • Uniform Code of Conduct
  • CADTP Code of Ethics
  • 40 hours of continuing education, including three hours of ethics and confidentiality
  • Renewal fee of $125 for SUDCC; $150 for SUDCC II or SUDCC III; $175 for SUDCC III-CS, SUDCC IV, or SUDCC IV-CS

CCAPP renewals are due every two years. Requirements to renew include the following:

  • Renewal application
  • 50 hours of continuing education units, including six hours in ethics and confidentiality (Not required for RADTs)
  • Signed CCAPP Code of Conduct for Credentialed Alcohol and Drug Professionals
  • Signed State of California AOD Counselor Code of Conduct
  • Signed Scope of Practice form
  • $125 fee

Rehabilitation Counseling Licenses in California

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Board of Behavioral Science

Rehabilitation counselors in California must first earn an Associate Professional Clinical Counselor (APCC) certification. Once the supervised work experience is complete, they may apply to be a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC).

Requirements to be an APCC include:

  • Completing an approved master’s degree in counseling of at least 60 semester or 90 quarter-credits. The program must include a practicum of at least 280 supervised hours of direct client contact.
  • Registering with the BBS as an APCC
  • Completing a Live Scan Department of Justice background check
  • Passing an additional state background check
  • Taking and passing the California Law and Ethics Exam annually
  • Pay $150 application fee

Once registered as an APCC, professionals can begin accruing the necessary 3,000 hours of supervised work experience. Of those hours 1,750 must be in direct counseling and the remaining 1,250 in non-clinical experiences such as supervision, writing reports, or administering tests. These hours must be accrued in a minimum of two years.

Upon completion of the hours, counselors may apply for LPCC licensure. The BBS will then provide the approval to take the NCMHCE exam through the NBCC. Once candidates have passed the exam they may request LPCC licensure from the BBS.

California requires LPCCs to renew their license every two years. Renewals are due during the counselors birth month.

In order to renew, counselors must:

  • Submit an online renewal
  • Complete 36 continuing education hours. Only 18 hours are required for the initial license. Six of those hours must be in law and ethics
  • Pay the $195 fee

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Licenses in California

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) for national certification

Currently, there are no state certification or licensing requirements for applied behavior analysts in California.

However, BCBA certification and membership with the California Association for Behavior Analysis (CalABA) can help with employment opportunities and career advancement.

Marriage and Family Therapy Licenses in California

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Board of Behavioral Science

The California Board of Behavioral Science issues Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and Associate Marriage Family Therapist (AMFT) licenses.

AMFT license requirements are:

  • Complete a master’s degree or higher in marriage and family systems; the program must meet specific coursework requirements and be a minimum of 48 semester-hours or 72 quarter-hours
  • Complete a supervised practicum, which included at least 225 hours of face-to-face experience counseling individuals, couples, families or groups
  • Submit a completed application
  • Provide a recent 2 x 2-inch photo
  • Pay $150 application fee
  • Register with the BBS as an AMFT
  • Complete a Live Scan Department of Justice background check
  • Pass an additional state background check
  • Complete a California Law and Ethics course

To earn an LMFT license, applicants must meet the AMFT requirements as well as:

  • Complete 3,000 hours and two years of supervised work experience (up to 1,300 hours may be accrued prior to completing the master’s degree)
  • Submit a complete application
  • Pay $200 application fee
  • Pass the LMFT California Clinical Exam and the LMFT California Law and Ethics Exam

California requires LMFTs to renew their license every two years and AMFTs to renew annually. Renewals are due during the counselor’s birth month.

AMFTs must submit a renewal application and complete a three-hour California Law and Ethics course. The fee to renew is $150

In order to renew, LMFTs must:

  • Submit an online renewal application
  • Complete 36 continuing education hours; only 18 hours are required for the initial license, and six of those hours must be in law and ethics
  • Pay the $220 fee

Child (Pediatric) Behavioral Therapy Licenses in California

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Board of Behavioral Science

Child therapists in California must first earn an Associate Professional Clinical Counselor (APCC) certification. Once the supervised work experience is complete, they may apply to be a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC).

Requirements to be an APCC include:

  • Completing an approved master’s degree in counseling of at least 60 semester- or 90 quarter-credits. The program must include a practicum of at least 280 supervised hours of direct client contact.
  • Registering with the BBS as an APCC
  • Completing a Live Scan Department of Justice background check
  • Passing an additional state background check
  • Taking and passing the California Law and Ethics Exam annually

Once registered as an APCC, professionals can begin accruing the necessary 3,000 hours of supervised work experience. Of those hours 1,750 must be in direct counseling and the remaining 1,250 in non-clinical experiences such as supervision, writing reports, or administering tests. These hours must be accrued in a minimum of two years.

Upon completion of the hours and passing the California Law & Ethics Exam, counselors may apply for LPCC licensure. The BBS will then provide the approval to take the NCMHCE exam through the NBCC. Once candidates have passed the exam they may request LPCC licensure from the BBS.

California requires LPCCs to renew their license every two years. Renewals are due during the counselors birth month.

To renew, counselors must:

  • Submit an online renewal
  • Complete 36 continuing education hours. Only 18 hours are required for the initial license. Six of those hours must be in law and ethics
  • Pay the $220 fee

Counseling Professional Associations & Resources in California

  • California Counseling Association (CCA)
  • Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES)
  • California Association of School Counselors (CASC)
  • California Association for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (CALPCC)
  • California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT)
Vanessa Salvia

Vanessa Salvia

Writer

Vanessa Salvia is an Oregon-based freelance writer and editor with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. As fun as rigorous studies in math and science were, Vanessa took an independent path and developed a prolific career covering lifestyle and healthcare topics for magazines and newspapers, important industries such as concrete construction and building waterproofing, and even hard science. You can get in touch at Sage Media and Marketing.

Counseling Schools & Licensure in Nearby States