Counseling Degrees & Licenses in Florida

Florida is a populous state, which makes it a good candidate for someone who wants to achieve a counseling degree and live and work there to develop a career. Florida has a unique cultural and environmental landscape, with a variety of interesting places to live and activities to enjoy. There is also a demonstrated need for people with counseling degrees and licenses in Florida.

According to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in Orlando, there is a large number of people living with some form of mental illness in Florida. Out of a current population of nearly 21.5 million people, NAMI predicts that nearly half the population will experience mild to serious mental illness at some point in their lives, with 660,000 adults and 181,000 children experiencing serious mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, severe depression, or schizophrenia.

A website called Mental Health America ranks all 50 states on various mental health-related criteria. Using 15 standards, MHA ranks states on such things as the number of adults with any mental illness, youths with substance disorders, adults with cognitive issues who reported that they could not afford to visit a doctor, children with private insurance plans that did not cover mental or emotional problems, and the availability of mental health providers. Using all of these criteria, MHA gives Florida a ranking of 32.

According to MHA’s criteria, an overall ranking of one to 13 indicates a lower prevalence of mental illness and higher rates of access to care. An overall ranking of 39 to 51 indicates a higher prevalence of mental illness and lower rates of access to care. A ranking of 32 puts this large state right in the middle, with issues related to both prevalence of mental illness and a lack of access to people with counseling degrees and licenses in Florida.

Those considering careers as a mental health provider in Florida are making a wise choice, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job openings in the field of substance abuse, behavioral disorders, and mental health will grow 22 percent nationally between 2018 to 2028—a rate of growth that is much faster than the average for all careers.

In order to be licensed as a mental health counselor in Florida, practitioners must have earned a master’s degree from a regionally accredited program in mental health counseling or a closely related field that consists of at least 60 semester hours or 80 quarter hours. Florida has different requirements for degrees earned from schools with mental health counseling programs that are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) versus those that are not CACREP-certified.

Per the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling, one of the biggest differences is that a degree from a non-CACREP accreditation program requires a letter from the school’s dean or department chair on official school letterhead verifying the course title and total number of hours completed during the supervised practicum, internship, or field experience. There is no requirement to do this for a degree from a CACREP-certified program.

Read on to discover what to expect from an accredited counseling degree program in Florida, as well as how to join a variety of counseling careers and their salaries.

Accredited Counseling Degree Programs in Florida

Florida Atlantic University

FAU’s Department of Counseling offers three master’s degree programs: clinical mental health counseling, clinical rehabilitation counseling, and school counseling. All three programs are CACREP-certified through 2023. FAU also has a program that combines the 60-credit master of education program with the specialist in education program. All three programs are master’s of education (MEd) in counselor education, with specializations within each of those fields.

Students can graduate with their master’s in clinical mental health counseling degree after 60 credits, and then have a specialization in education after an additional 12 credits. To become licensed as a clinical mental health counselor in Florida, graduates must perform supervised work for two years and take the state licensing exam.

On average, FAU students complete the clinical rehabilitation counseling program to be eligible for licensure in the state of Florida in two-and-a-half to three years. The school counseling program is a 60-credit hour master’s degree program.

  • Location: Boca Raton, Florida
  • Duration: Two to three years
  • Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $303.71 per credit, graduate resident and non-resident

University of South Florida

The University of South Florida offers a track specifically for students to become eligible for licensing as a Florida Certified School Counselor through the College of Education. The master of arts (MA) in counselor education provides a concentration in school counseling so that graduates can work as counselors in elementary, middle or high schools. The program consists of 63 credits.

The child and family studies program through the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences offers an opportunity for a degree in clinical mental health counseling and clinical rehabilitation counseling. This rehabilitation and mental health counseling (RMHC) master of arts program comprises 60 credits.

  • Location: Tampa, Florida
  • Duration: Two to three years
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: Consult the school’s Net Price Calculator for a customized assessment

University of Central Florida – College of Community Innovation and Education

UCF offers three tracks for counseling licensure. The master of arts (MA) in counselor education includes a clinical mental health counseling track that prepares graduates to work in mental health agencies, private practice, and other settings. The master of arts in school counseling and guidance prepares students to work as professional school counselors in pre-K through postsecondary school settings. The counselor education track is designed for the student planning to seek certification as a professional school counselor in K-12 school settings.

The MA is an ideal program for students who have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than education and plan to seek certification as a professional school counselor in pre-K through postsecondary school settings.

The MEd program is ideal for certified educators who want to work as professional school counselors in pre-K through postsecondary school settings. For the MEd, students must have or be eligible for the Florida Professional Teaching Certificate in Counselor Education.

  • Location: Orlando, Florida
  • Duration: Two to three years
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $369.65 (Florida resident, per credit); $1,194.06 (out-of-state resident, per credit)

Barry University (Online, On-campus)

Barry University is a private Catholic university with classes offered traditionally in person at the main campus in Miami Shores, and at locations throughout Florida for those who can not commute to the main campus. Although many programs are also offered online as well as in the Bahamas, the counseling programs are not online.

The master of counseling program allows students to choose from four specializations or multiple specializations:

  • Clinical mental health counseling
  • Marital, couple, and family counseling
  • School counseling
  • Multiple specializations

Barry University’s Counseling program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), which not only meets license requirements in Florida but gives students the chance to transfer their credits to pursue professional licensure in other states.

  • Location: Miami Shores, Florida
  • Duration: Clinical mental health counseling (63 credits); marital, couple, and family counseling (64 credits); school counseling (60 credits)
  • Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $30,600, full-time enrollment (2020-2021)

Rollins College

The master of arts (MA) in clinical mental health counseling at Rollins College has a focus on social justice, so the coursework here goes beyond core classes and practicum; in addition to a practicum and internship during the final year, Rollins expects that students participate in 100 hours of non-clinical service activities at a mental health agency and engage in 100 hours of social justice advocacy to promote social change.

Although classes are not online, Rollins caters to working adults by scheduling classes in late afternoon and evening. Rollins keeps class sizes small at only 12 to 15 students who all enter together and graduate together, so each student is supported and receives personalized attention.

Students can optionally complete the specialization to receive a certificate in family and relationship therapy by completing an additional 20 credits.

  • Location: Winter Park, Florida
  • Duration: Three to four years
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $675 per credit (2020-21)

Florida International University – College of Arts, Sciences & Education

FIU’s master of science in counseling program offers three tracks: clinical mental health counseling, rehabilitation counseling, and school counseling.

FIU, in Miami, is an anchor institution in Florida and with a student body of nearly 54,000, is among the top ten largest universities in the nation. The school counseling track requires students with an undergraduate degree in an area other than education to enroll for courses in general professional education as required by the Florida Department of Education in order to meet state certification requirements in Florida.

  • Location: Miami, Florida
  • Duration: Two to three years (60 credits)
  • Accreditation: All three counseling programs are approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The rehabilitation program is accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE).
  • Tuition: $4,101 per semester (Florida resident); $9,015 (non-resident)

University of Florida – School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education

The University of Florida prides itself on being ranked among the top ten programs nationally since 1998 when the U.S. News & World Report began ranking counseling programs. Students can choose from three tracks: mental health counseling, marriage and family counseling, and school counseling.

The program consists of a minimum of 72 credit hours, leading to the master of education and education specialist dual degrees. Students who complete a master’s thesis receive a master of arts rather than the master of education.

  • Location: Gainesville, Florida
  • Duration: 2.5 to three years
  • Accreditation: All three programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The school counseling program is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
  • Tuition: $12,740 plus fees (Florida resident)

Florida State University

Florida State University’s clinical mental health counseling program consists of five full-time semesters that include core courses, a practicum, and internship. Graduates receive both a master of science (MS) and an education specialist (EdS) degree.

FSU requires that an applicant have a bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA. Recent GRE scores are also required, although FSU is waiving the GRE as a requirement for admission to counseling master’s and education specialist degree programs for fall 2020.

  • Location: Tallahassee, Florida
  • Duration: Five full-time semesters (63 credits)
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $479.32 (Florida resident per credit, plus fees); $1,110.72 (non-resident per credit, plus fees)

Florida Gulf Coast University

Florida Gulf Coast University’s clinical mental health counseling program allows students to earn degrees in both mental health counseling licensure and school counseling through a dual major. Students take all common and specialty courses required for both programs, which will typically add a year or more to degree completion.

  • Location: Fort Meyers, Florida
  • Duration: School counseling (60 credits, 21 additional credits for dual major); clinical mental health counseling (63 credits, 16 additional credits for dual major)
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $373.38 (Florida resident per credit); $1,300.66 (non-resident per credit)

University of West Florida

The University of West Florida, UWF, awards a master of arts (MA) in psychology with a counseling specialization. Students complete 1,000 hours of practicum and internship work, which requires a year.

  • Location: Pensacola, Florida
  • Duration: 60 credits
  • Accreditation: Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC)
  • Tuition: $295.34 (Florida resident per credit); $923.57 (non-resident per credit)

How Much Do Counselors Make in Florida?

These numbers represent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from May 2019.

Marriage and Family Therapist Salaries

United StatesFlorida
Number employed59,0501,990
Average annual salary (mean)$54,590$46,330
10th percentile$32,070$28,650
50th percentile (median)$49,610$42,190
90th percentile$87,700$65,550

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor Salaries

United StatesFlorida
Number employed284,54013,980
Average annual salary (mean)$49,950$44,820
10th percentile$29,520$26,870
50th percentile (median)$46,240$39,770
90th percentile$76,080$68,930

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselor and Advisor Salaries

United StatesFlorida
Number employed296,46019,030
Average annual salary (mean)$61,000$50,200
10th percentile$34,380$29,010
50th percentile (median)$57,040$48,160
90th percentile$96,090$75,150

Rehabilitation Counselor Salaries

United StatesFlorida
Number employed109,0403,680
Average annual salary (mean)$40,160$36,640
10th percentile$23,820$22,880
50th percentile (median)$39,950$34,150
90th percentile$63,790$52,500

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

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling

In Florida, aspiring counselors can be Registered Mental Health Counselor Interns, and upon completion of qualified work experience, Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs).

Requirements to be a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern include:

  • Official transcripts showing a master’s degree from a CACREP accredited mental health program of at least 60 semester hours or 80 quarter hours. If the program isn’t CACREP accredited it must be regionally accredited and be 60 semester hours or 80 quarter hours and meet course requirements.
  • A university-sponsored practicum of at least 1,000 hours
  • A letter from a qualified supervisor noting they have agreed to provide supervision for the internship
  • Completed application
  • A $150 fee

To become a full LMHC, candidates must submit:

  • Official transcripts showing a master’s degree from a CACREP accredited mental health program of at least 60 semester hours or 80 quarter hours. If the program isn’t CACREP accredited it must be regionally accredited and be 60 semester hours or 80 quarter hours and meet course requirements.
  • A university-sponsored practicum of at least 1,000 hours
  • Proof of two years of post-master’s supervised work experience; this must include no less than 100 hours of supervision in 100 weeks, one hour of supervision a week, and at least 1,500 hours of face-to-face psychotherapy with clients
  • A passing score on the NCMHCE exam
  • Proof of completion of an eight-hour Florida laws and rules course
  • Proof of completion of a three-hour board-approved HIV course
  • Proof of completion of a two-hour board-approved domestic violence course
  • A $100 application fee and $75 licensure fee
  • A completed application

Registered mental health counselor intern licenses are valid for five years and cannot be renewed.

LMHC licenses expire on March 31st of odd-numbered years. To renew counselors must:

  • Complete the online application
  • Pay the $120 renewal fee
  • Complete 30 continuing education hours from board-approved providers.

Counselors in their first renewal cycle are exempt from the education requirements.

School Counseling Licenses in Florida

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Florida Department of Education

The Florida Department of Education requires school counselors to be certified teachers, as well as meet the requirements for a certification in school counseling. The requirements are:

  • Complete a master’s degree (or higher) in school counseling and guidance or a related discipline that meets coursework requirements
  • Pass all three portions of the Florida Teacher Certification Examination (FTCE)
  • Pay $65 application fee
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pass a background check

Florida requires school counselors to renew their teaching license every five years. The fee to renew is $75.

School counselors must complete six semester hours of continuing education. One of those hours must be in special education.

Substance Abuse Counseling Licenses in Florida

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

The Florida Certification Board (FCB)

There are three certifications issued by the Florida Certification Board (FCB). They are Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC), Certified Addiction Professional (CAP), and Master’s-level Certified Addiction Professional (MCAP).

CAC candidates must:

  • Pass the IC&RC ADC exam
  • Pass a Department of Children and Families Level 2 background check
  • Hold a high school diploma or GED
  • Complete 270 hours of education and training in nine core areas
  • Have work experience (6,000 hours for a high school diploma or GED, 5,000 hours for an associate or vocational degree or non-related bachelor’s degree or higher, 4,000 hours for a bachelor’s degree in a related field, or 2,000 hours for master’s degree or higher in a related field)
  • Complete 300 hours of on-the-job supervision for those with a high school diploma or GED, 250 hours for an associate or vocational degree or non-related bachelor’s degree or higher, 200 hours for a bachelor’s degree in a related field, or 100 hours for master’s degree or higher in a related field
  • Pay $150 application fee

To be certified as a CAP, candidates must meet CAS requirements, in addition to:

  • Holding a bachelor’s degree in a related field from an accredited institution
  • Completing 350 hours of training and education in nine core areas
  • Completing 6,000 hours and three years of addiction-specific, professional-level work experience (one year of full-time employment at 40-hours per week, equals 2,080 hours)
  • Completing 300 hours of on the job supervision at a rate of no more than three hours per week or 156 hours per year
  • Passing the Florida Certified Addiction Professional Exam
  • Paying $150 application fee

MCAP candidates must:

  • Hold a master’s degree in clinical counseling or a related field from an accredited institution
  • Complete 350 hours of training and education in nine core areas
  • Complete 4,000 hours and two years of addiction-specific, professional-level work experience (one year of full-time employment at 40-hours per week, equals 2,080 hours)
  • Provide three professional references
  • Pass the Florida Master’s Level Certified Addiction Professional Exam
  • Pass the IC&RC ADC Exam
  • Pay $150 application fee

FCB certifications expire annually on June 30th.

Renewals must include a completed application, 20 continuing education hours, and a $125 fee.

Rehabilitation Counseling Licenses in Florida

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling

In Florida, aspiring rehabilitation counselors can be Registered Mental Health Counselor Interns, or upon completion of qualified work experience, they can become Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs).

Requirements to be a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern include:

  • Official transcripts showing a master’s degree from a CACREP accredited mental health program of at least 60 semester hours or 80 quarter hours. If the program isn’t CACREP accredited it must be regionally accredited and be 60 semester hours or 80 quarter hours and meet course requirements.
  • A university-sponsored practicum of at least 1,000 hours
  • A letter from a qualified supervisor noting they have agreed to provide supervision for the internship
  • Completed application
  • A $150 fee

To become a full LMHC, candidates must submit:

  • Official transcripts showing a master’s degree from a CACREP accredited mental health program of at least 60 semester hours or 80 quarter hours. If the program isn’t CACREP accredited it must be regionally accredited and be 60 semester hours or 80 quarter hours and meet course requirements.
  • A university-sponsored practicum of at least 1,000 hours
  • Proof of two years of post-master’s supervised work experience; this must include no less than 100 hours of supervision in 100 weeks, one hour of supervision a week, and at least 1,500 hours of face-to-face psychotherapy with clients
  • A passing score on the NCMHCE exam
  • Proof of completion of an eight-hour Florida laws and rules course
  • Proof of completion of a three-hour board-approved HIV course
  • Proof of completion of a two-hour board-approved domestic violence course
  • A $100 application fee and $75 licensure fee
  • A completed application

Registered mental health counselor intern licenses are valid for five years and cannot be renewed.

LMHC licenses expire on March 31st of odd-numbered years. To renew counselors must:

  • Complete the online application
  • Pay the $120 renewal fee
  • Complete 30 continuing education hours from board-approved providers.

Counselors in their first renewal cycle are exempt from the education requirements.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Licenses in Florida

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 Florida. However, BCBA certification can help with employment opportunities and career advancement.

Applied behavior analysts in Florida can apply for the special designation of Florida Certified Behavior Analyst (FL-CBA) by meeting all the BCBA requirements and practicing in Florida.

Marriage and Family Therapy Licenses in Florida

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling

The Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling licenses Marriage and Family Therapist Interns, as well as Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists.

Requirements to become a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern are:

  • Send official transcripts showing a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, including a 180-hour practicum
  • Complete an application
  • Pay $150 application fee

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists must meet the requirements for an intern license, as well as:

  • Show proof of two years of post-master’s supervised work experience (no less than 100 hours of supervision in 100 weeks, one hour of supervision a week, and at least 1,500 hours of face-to-face psychotherapy with clients)
  • Pass the AMFTRB exam
  • Complete an eight-hour Florida laws and rules course
  • Complete a three-hour board-approved HIV course
  • Complete a two-hour board-approved domestic violence course
  • Pay the $180 application and licensure fee
  • Submit a completed application

Marriage and Family Therapist Intern licenses are valid for five years and cannot be renewed.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist licenses expire on March 31st of odd-numbered years.

To renew, counselors must:

  • Complete the online application
  • Pay the $120 renewal fee
  • Complete 30 continuing education hours from board-approved providers.

Counselors in their first renewal cycle are exempt from the continuing education requirements.

Child (Pediatric) Behavioral Therapy Licenses in Florida

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling

In Florida, aspiring child therapists can be Registered Mental Health Counselor Interns, or upon completion of qualified work experience, they can become Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs).

Requirements to be a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern include:

  • Official transcripts showing a master’s degree from a CACREP accredited mental health program of at least 60 semester hours or 80 quarter hours. If the program isn’t CACREP accredited it must be regionally accredited and be 60 semester hours or 80 quarter hours and meet course requirements.
  • A university-sponsored practicum of at least 1,000 hours
  • A letter from a qualified supervisor noting they have agreed to provide supervision for the internship
  • Completed application
  • A $150 fee

To become a full LMHC, candidates must submit:

  • Official transcripts showing a master’s degree from a CACREP accredited mental health program of at least 60 semester hours or 80 quarter hours. If the program isn’t CACREP accredited it must be regionally accredited and be 60 semester hours or 80 quarter hours and meet course requirements.
  • A university-sponsored practicum of at least 1,000 hours
  • Proof of two years of post-master’s supervised work experience; this must include no less than 100 hours of supervision in 100 weeks, one hour of supervision a week, and at least 1,500 hours of face-to-face psychotherapy with clients
  • A passing score on the NCMHCE exam
  • Proof of completion of an eight-hour Florida laws and rules course
  • Proof of completion of a three-hour board-approved HIV course
  • Proof of completion of a two-hour board-approved domestic violence course
  • A $100 application fee and $75 licensure fee
  • A completed application

Registered mental health counselor intern licenses are valid for five years and cannot be renewed.

LMHC licenses expire on March 31st of odd-numbered years. To renew counselors must:

  • Complete the online application
  • Pay the $120 renewal fee
  • Complete 30 continuing education hours from board-approved providers.

Counselors in their first renewal cycle are exempt from the education requirements.

Counseling Professional Associations & Resources in Florida

  • Florida Counseling Association
  • Florida Mental Health Counselors Association
  • Florida School Counselor Association
  • Northeast Florida Mental Health Counselors Association
  • Gulf Coast Mental Health Counselors Association
  • Suncoast Mental Health Counselors Association
  • Florida Family Therapy Association
  • South Florida Association of Christian Counselors
  • Space Coast Mental Health Counselors Association
  • Florida Psychological Association
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.