Counseling Degrees & Licenses in Hawaii

The state of Hawaii is unique among the member states of the United States of America due to its location, history, and multicultural populace. Polynesian and Asian cultures exert significant influence within the state population. Comprising a group of islands spread across a large expanse of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii’s geographical isolation and island economic model pose particular obstacles to those seeking both to receive mental health care and those seeking training to enter the counseling profession. 

The current status of Hawaii’s mental healthcare system includes both positive and negative indicators. The 2018 State of Mental Health in America report noted that the prevalence of mental illness among the population of Hawaii is very low compared to other states. 

However, this same report noted Hawaii ranked last in terms of treatment rates. Whereas the national average of adults who do not access treatment is 56 percent, the rate in Hawaii is 68 percent. Hawaii also ranks poorly in terms of outcomes specific to its youth population. While treatment access is a challenge, the state does perform well in terms of insurance coverage. A State Health Care Snapshot provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation notes that the percentage of nonelderly uninsured Hawaiians stood at 4.6 percent in 2018 compared to 10.4 percent for the entire United States population.

Given the state’s healthcare crisis, the Hawaiian market for mental health professionals is forecast to remain robust in the immediate future. Several factors contribute to the current crisis. Among those are minimal physician participation in the state’s Medicaid system and the state’s very high cost of living. The high cost of living is, in part, a typical feature of island economies. As islands are often unable to produce most needed goods locally, islands often must import products to meet their needs. Such dependency often proves much more expensive. 

Meanwhile, the state’s high housing costs are very much a product of extremely high demand colliding with a scarcity of existing housing stock and affordable space to pursue new housing construction.

Hawaii offers relatively limited options for individuals interested in pursuing formalized training in the counseling profession. Schools offering training to enter the counseling profession are the University of Hawaii (Hilo and Manoa campuses) and Chaminade University of Honolulu.

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

Accredited Counseling Degree Programs in Hawaii

University of Hawaii, Hilo (Online Options) 

The University of Hawaii, Hilo Department of Psychology offers a 60-credit master’s degree program in counseling psychology with a specialization in clinical mental health counseling. This program employs distance education technology. Therefore, students are not required to live in Hilo. The academic program also includes a practicum requirement; successful students complete a minimum of 600 hours at a field placement site during the second year of the two-year program.

Graduates can become licensed as Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHC) within Hawaii. Candidates seeking licensure must also earn a passing score on the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and accrue at least 3,000 hours of post-graduate experience in mental health counseling.

  • Location: Hilo, HI (distance learning is available, but students are required to attend in-person sessions in Hilo several times a year)
  • Duration: 60 semester-credits, two years
  • Accreditation: Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC)
  • Tuition: $489 per unit for residents, $1,107 per unit for non-residents

University of Hawaii at Mãnoa (Online Options)

The University of Hawaii at Mãnoa College of Education offers the Rehabilitation Counselor Education Program (RCEP), a 48-credit, online master of science degree in kinesiology and rehabilitation science. In addition to academic classwork, students complete three field experiences, consisting of one practicum and two internships, over three semesters. 

Students seeking licensure in mental health counseling must complete an additional 12 credits and additional fieldwork under the supervision of a licensed mental health professional.

Graduates of this program may elect to work in various settings, including public sector vocational rehabilitation agencies, veterans’ agencies, private-sector non-profit and for-profit rehabilitation and employment support agencies, substance abuse agencies, and correctional facilities. The program is designed for professionals currently working in vocational rehabilitation and those interested in working in this field and/or with populations of people with disabilities.

  • Location: Mãnoa, HI
  • Duration: 48 semester-credits, three years
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $650 per credit (plus $5 fee per credit) irrespective of state residence status

Chaminade University of Honolulu (Online Options)

The Chaminade University of Honolulu School of Education offers a 60-creditmaster of science degree in counseling psychology (MSCP). Students pursuing this degree may elect to pursue one of three concentrations. All three concentrations require students to complete a set of foundation and core courses and additional courses specific to their chosen concentration. The three tracks are marriage and family counseling, mental health counseling, and school counseling.

Those seeking to later become licensed outside of Hawaii should inquire with their intended licensing agency about whether or not this program qualifies.

  • Location: Honolulu, HI
  • Duration: 60 credits, 30 months
  • Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
  • Tuition: $1,030 per credit 

Hawai’i Pacific University

Hawai’i Pacific University offers an on-campus doctoral program (PsyD) in clinical psychology. This degree features instruction in areas such as the cognitive and affective bases of behavior, the social bases of behavior, clinical interviewing, the developmental aspects of behavior, individual and cultural diversity, and a history of the systems of psychology, among other topics.

The first four years of this program are taken on campus and the final year comprises an off-site internship. To qualify for admission, candidates must submit proof of a bachelor’s degree in psychology (with specific coursework), a personal statement, official transcripts with at least a 3.0 GPA, GRE scores, and three letters of recommendation.

  • Location: Honolulu, HI
  • Duration: Five years or more
  • Accreditation: American Psychological Association (in progress)
  • Tuition: $1,200 per credit 

How Much Do Counselors Earn in Hawaii?

These numbers represent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from May 2021—the latest data available as of April 2022.

Clinical and Counseling Psychologist Salaries

United StatesHawaii
Number employed58,100380
Average annual salary (mean)$99,640$113,040
10th percentile$47,010$62,310
50th percentile (median)$82,510$101,310
90th percentile$167,460Greater than or equal to $208,000

Marriage and Family Therapist Salaries

United StatesHawaii
Number employed54,80070
Average annual salary (mean)$59,660$62,440
10th percentile$37,050$48,090
50th percentile (median)$49,880$49,650
90th percentile$96,520$102,540

Rehabilitation Counselor Salaries

United StatesHawaii
Number employed90,310Estimate not released
Average annual salary (mean)$44,740$36,450
10th percentile$28,890$30,540
50th percentile (median)$38,560$38,720
90th percentile$65,880$38,720

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselor and Advisor Salaries

United StatesHawaii
Number employed57,1102,160
Average annual salary (mean)$82,770$68,560
10th percentile$49,260$48,520
50th percentile (median)$78,780$62,250
90th percentile$124,950$97,040

Counseling Professional Associations & Resources in Hawaii

  • Hawaii Psychological Association
  • Hawaii Counselors Association
  • Hawaii School Counselor Association
  • Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Professional and Vocational Licensing Division 
  • Hawaii Department of Health, Adult Mental Health Division
  • Hawaii Department of Education
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness – Hawaii

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

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA)

Hawaii issues Mental Health Counselor licenses.

Requirements for licensure include:

  • A completed application
  • A social security number
  • Transcripts of a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling from an accredited institution. The program must be a minimum of 48 semester hours or 72 quarter hours.
  • A practicum as part of the master’s or doctoral degree that is a minimum of 300 hours of supervised client contact
  • 3,000 hours of post-graduate supervised work experience as a mental health counselor in no less than two but no more than four years
  • A passing NCE score
  • A $60 application fee
  • An initial licensing fee of $256 to $444 depending on when the application is submitted.

Hawaii requires Mental Health Counselors to renew their licenses every three years. The fee is $282 and there is no continuing education requirement.

School Counseling Licenses in Hawaii

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Hawaii Teacher Standards Board

All teachers and school counselors in Hawaii are required to be licensed through the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board. Provisional teaching license candidates must:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution
  • Complete a state-approved teacher or school counselor program including any required exams or hold a current provisional or equivalent teaching license from another state
  • Meet basic skills and knowledge requirements
  • Pass the professional fitness test

Once a teacher has completed three years of work experience, they may apply for a renewable standard permit.

Currently, there are no published guidelines for school counselor requirements on the Hawaii Department of Education or the Hawaʻi Teacher Standards Board websites.

However, the American School Counselor Association lists the following requirements for school counselors in Hawaii:

  • Hold a master’s degree or higher in school counseling from a regionally accredited institution which meets National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) or state standards (the program must include a practicum or internship in a K-12 school)
  • Pass the following exams by the fourth year of employment: Praxis (Reading with a score of 172, Writing with a score of 171, Mathematics with a score of 173); Praxis II Principles of Learning & Teaching (K-6 with a score of 163, or 7-12 with a score of 157); and Praxis II School Counseling and Guidance with a score of 580

Provisional teaching licenses issued in Hawaii may not be renewed.

Standard licenses must be renewed every five years. To renew, teachers must submit an application and must earn 60 continuing education points. These points can be earned through testing, education, certification, curriculum development, or participation on committees.

Substance Abuse Counseling Licenses in Hawaii

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

State of Hawaii, Department of Health Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division

Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (CSAC) certifications are issued by the State of Hawaii, Department of Health Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division.

Eligibility requirements for CSACs include:

  • Three years (6,000 hours) of supervised experience providing direct alcohol and drug treatment services,
  • 400 hours of supervised experience hours in 12 core areas function areas
  • 300 hours of substance abuse specific education
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Passing score on the IC&RC ADC exam
  • A completed application
  • $25 application fee and $125 testing fee

CSAC certifications in Hawaii expire every two years and cost $25.

Renewal requirements include completing the two-page application, providing proof of 40 hours of continuing education, of which at least 20 were face-to-face and six were in ethics.

Rehabilitation Counseling Licenses in Hawaii

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA)

Hawaii issues Mental Health Counselor licenses to aspiring rehabilitation counselors.

Requirements for licensure include:

  • A completed application
  • A social security number
  • Transcripts of a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling from an accredited institution. The program must be a minimum of 48 semester hours or 72 quarter hours.
  • A practicum as part of the master’s or doctoral degree that is a minimum of 300 hours of supervised client contact
  • 3,000 hours of post-graduate supervised work experience as a mental health counselor in no less than two but no more than four years
  • A passing NCE score
  • A $60 application fee
  • An initial licensing fee of $256 to $444 depending on when the application is submitted.

Hawaii requires Mental Health Counselors to renew their licenses every three years. The fee is $282 and there is no continuing education requirement.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Licenses in Hawaii

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Professional & Vocational Licensing Division

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Professional & Vocational Licensing Division licenses behavior analysts in Hawaii. The requirements for licensure are:

  • Submit a completed application
  • Have an active BCBA certification
  • Pay a $200 to $310 application fee
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Provide a social security number with the application

Behavior analyst licenses in Hawaii expire on December 31st of odd-numbered years.

Renewals cost $220 and there are no continuing education requirements.

Marriage and Family Therapy Licenses in Hawaii

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA)

The Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) licenses Marriage and Family Therapists.

Candidates must:

  • Send a completed application (with a social security number)
  • Provide transcripts of a master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy from an accredited institution
  • Complete a practicum as part of the master’s or doctoral degree that is a minimum of 300 hours of supervised client contact
  • Finish 1,000 hours of post-graduate supervised work experience as a marriage and family therapist in no less than two years; this must include 200 hours of clinical supervision
  • Pass the AMFTRB exam
  • Pay a $50 application fee and an initial licensing fee of $126 to $396, depending on when the application is submitted

Hawaii requires marriage and family therapists to renew their licenses every three years. The fee is $405.

MFTs are required to complete 45 hours of continuing education per renewal period. Six of those hours must be in ethics.

Child (Pediatric) Behavioral Therapy Licenses in Hawaii

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA)

Hawaii issues Mental Health Counselor licenses to aspiring child therapists.

Requirements for licensure include:

  • A completed application
  • A social security number
  • Transcripts of a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling from an accredited institution. The program must be a minimum of 48 semester hours or 72 quarter hours.
  • A practicum as part of the master’s or doctoral degree that is a minimum of 300 hours of supervised client contact
  • 3,000 hours of post-graduate supervised work experience as a mental health counselor in no less than two but no more than four years
  • A passing NCE score
  • A $60 application fee
  • An initial licensing fee of $256 to $444 depending on when the application is submitted.

Hawaii requires Mental Health Counselors to renew their licenses every three years. The fee is $282 and there is no continuing education requirement.

Bernd Geels

Bernd Geels

Writer

Bernd Geels is a Berlin, Germany-based freelance writer and artist. He holds an undergraduate degree in atmospheric science and two graduate degrees. He completed his most recent graduate degree in international environmental studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in 2011. He is interested in healthcare, climate change, marine conservation, indigenous science and refugee issues. You can reach him directly at berndgeels@gmail.com.

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