Counseling Degrees & Licenses in Montana

The Montana Board of Behavioral Health manages the requirements for counseling degrees and issues licenses for counseling careers in Montana. This board regulates Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), Licensed Master’s (non-clinical) Social Workers (LMSW), Licensed Master’s (non-clinical) Social Worker Candidates (SWLM), Licensed Baccalaureate Social Workers (LBSW), Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker Candidates (SWLB), Licensed Addiction Counselors (LAC), LAC Candidates, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors (LCPC), LCPC Candidates, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT), LMFT Candidates, and Certified Behavioral Health Peer Support Specialists (CBPHSS). 

Non-clinical social workers are able to advocate for policies and manage services that affect communities, but they do not offer clinical therapy services. Each license type has its own licensing requirements. Those who are licensed as a candidate in Montana must complete all required supervised work experience before applying for full licensure. 

Those who are licensed in another state or jurisdiction cannot transfer their license. Montana does not have reciprocity agreements with any other states. Those who are interested in applying for a Montana license will need to apply. Applications from those with active licenses in another state are considered under Montana’s out-of-state licensing rules for that particular license type.

Montana license requirements to become a Licensed Addiction Counselor include completing an associate of arts degree in alcohol and drug studies, addiction, or substance abuse or a related degree from an accredited institution or completing a baccalaureate or advanced degree in alcohol and drug studies, psychology, sociology, social work, or counseling from an accredited institution. The candidate must have a minimum of 330 hours of addiction courses and must provide proof of completion of 1,000 hours of supervised addiction counseling experience in a qualified treatment program. 

To become a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in Montana, the candidate must graduate with a degree with a minimum of 60 semester-hours from an accredited college with a program of study that is primarily counseling in nature and that includes six credits of a practicum. Another option is to complete a graduate degree with a minimum of 45 credits from an accredited college that also includes a practicum and with a program that includes Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Program (CACREP) core courses. 

If the degree program is at least 45 credits but less than 60 credits, the candidate will have five years after being granted their LCPC license to obtain the additional credits to equal 60. Applicants must also pass either the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE), both of which are administered by the National Board of Counselor Certification.

Requirements to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Montana are similar. Those who have not yet completed 3,000 hours of supervised work must apply as a candidate. Those who have completed 3,000 hours of supervised work experience must have a minimum of a master’s degree from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). Alternatively, the candidate can obtain a minimum of a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling from a program accredited by CACREP or COAMFTE. The degree must be a minimum of 60 semester-hours (or 90 quarter-hours) and include a minimum of 48 semester-hours (or 72 quarter-hours) of core courses. The candidate must also pass the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) examination in marriage and family therapy or other exam approved by the board. 

School counseling is regulated by the Montana Board of Education. To become a school counselor in Montana, the candidate must complete a school counseling program that is approved or accredited by CACREP, or another state-approved program. And, they must complete a 600-hour internship in a school setting. Keep reading for accredited counseling degree programs in Montana.

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Accredited Counseling Degree Programs in Montana

Montana State University

Montana State University is the state’s largest university. It was founded in 1893. The school offers an addictions counseling graduate certificate which enables students to become licensed addictions counselors. MSU also offers a master of science in mental health counseling, an MS in marriage, couples, and family counseling, and an MEd in school counseling. Each student in the mental health counseling program must complete 700 hours of supervised experience. 

  • Location: Bozeman, Montana
  • Duration: School counseling is 48 credits; all others are 60 credits
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: A Montana resident will pay $10,738 for 12 credits; a non-resident will pay $37,440

Montana State University – Billings 

Montana State University’s Billings campus is the state’s third-largest university. Its campus is located on 110 acres in downtown Billings. This location offers a rehabilitation counseling degree. According to MSU’s statistics, the average time to complete the program is three years. 

The curriculum meets the academic preparation requirements for licensure as an LCPC in Montana and Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) nationally. These classes are entirely online except for two classes that require students to be on campus. These two classes are offered in the summer semester as a hybrid, with three on-campus days and the rest online. 

Practicum and internship experiences can be arranged in local communities. Students are also required to attend a new student orientation prior to or during their first enrolled semester.

  • Location: Billings, Montana
  • Duration: 66 credits, three years
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: The estimated cost for tuition and fees based on nine credits per semester is approximately $2,700 for Montana residents and $7,500 for non-residents

University of Montana – Phyllis J. Washington College of Education

The University of Montana is a public research university and is the state’s second-largest campus. The Phyllis J. Washington College of Education’s Department of Counseling offers a counselor education program that provides a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. The program meets the requirements for students to become licensed professional counselors in the state of Montana. 

The master’s degree in school counseling meets Montana’s licensure requirements for this career path. Currently, throughout the state of Montana, professional school counselors are in high demand. The counseling programs all require that students complete at least 700 hours of supervised counseling experience. 

  • Location: Missoula, Montana
  • Duration: All counseling programs are 60 credits
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: For a full-time load (12 credits), a Montana resident will pay approximately $8,716 plus fees; $31,572 for a non-resident

University of Providence

The University of Providence was previously known as the University of Great Falls. It is a private Roman Catholic university. The counseling programs are motivated by the mission of the Sisters of Providence, which is to provide healing, education, and service, especially to those who are poor and vulnerable. 

The University of Providence’s addiction counseling program is offered as an associate of arts degree, and as an undergraduate or graduate certificate for individuals who have already earned a bachelor’s degree. Programs are delivered online with no travel necessary. The AA degree and the undergraduate certificate can be completed in two years. The graduate certificate can be completed in three years. 

The University of Providence’s master’s in clinical mental health counseling degree program offers two concentrations (addictions counseling and clinical rehabilitation counseling) in order to become an LPC. Either program prepares students to take the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE). Upon completion of the program, students are eligible to sit for the National Certification Exam (NCE). 

  • Location: Great Falls, Montana
  • Duration: All programs are 60 credits
  • Accreditation: CACREP
  • Tuition: $901 per credit, plus fees

How Much Do Counselors Make in Montana?

These numbers represent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from May 2020—the latest data available as of November 2021.

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors

United StatesMontana
Number employed292,230590
Average annual salary (mean)$61,000$50,250
10th percentile$34,380$26,120
50th percentile (median)$57,040$47,470
90th percentile$96,090$78,680

Marriage and Family Therapists

United StatesMontana
Number employed60,850No number given
Average annual salary (mean)$54,590$49,420
10th percentile$32,070$41,020
50th percentile (median)$49,610$46,870
90th percentile$87,700$59,740

Rehabilitation Counselors

United StatesMontana
Number employed100,260320
Average annual salary (mean)$40,160$38,500
10th percentile$23,820$31,310
50th percentile (median)$39,950$35,200
90th percentile$63,790$58,310

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

United StatesMontana
Number employed293,6201,700
Average annual salary (mean)$49,950$40,860
10th percentile$29,520$24,010
50th percentile (median)$46,240$39,360
90th percentile$76,080$61,170

Counseling Professional Associations & Resources in Montana

  • American Counseling Association – Western Region 
  • Montana School Counselor Association
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Montana Chapter
  • Montana Association of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Counselors
  • Montana Occupational Therapy Association
  • Parenting Montana
  • Montana – Brain Injury Association of America
  • The Pacific Northwest Association for College Admission Counseling (PNACAC)
  • Women’s Foundation of Montana
  • Behavioral Health Alliance of Montana
  • Montana Speech – Language Hearing Association
  • American Physical Therapy Association Montana Chapter
  • Family Assistance Center – Montana 
  • National Council on Problem Gambling – Montana

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

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Montana Department of Labor & Industry Board of Behavioral Health

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor Candidate (LCPC Candidate) are the mental health counselor licenses issued by the state of Montana.

In order to earn an LCPC Candidate credential, applicants must:

  • Complete a master’s program in counseling of at least 60 semester hours with CACREP core courses. Candidates may apply for licensure with only 45 semester credits. However, the remaining 15 credits must be completed within five years of licensure.
  • Submit a completed application and additional forms
  • Pay a $200 application fee
  • Complete a background check with fingerprints

To transition to a full LCPC, candidates must:

  • Complete 3,000 hours of supervised work experience, at least half of which must be postgraduate.
  • Pass the NCE or NCMHCE exam
  • Submit a completed application and related forms
  • Pay $200 application fee

Counseling licenses in Montana are renewed annually. They cost $175.

Counselors are required to submit an online application, as well as 20 hours of continuing education hours. LPC Candidates are not required to complete continuing education hours.

School Counseling Licenses in Montana

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Office of Public Instruction

The Montana Office of Public Instruction issues a Class 6 School Counselor Specialist License.

The requirements for this license are:

  • Complete a CACREP-accredited school counselor program or a master’s in school counseling from a regionally accredited institution, including a 600-hour internship in a school setting
  • Pass the Praxis School Guidance and Counseling exam
  • Complete the free, online course “An Introduction to Indian Education for All in Montana”
  • Submit a completed University Recommendation form
  • Pass a background check
  • Submit a notarized Montana Educator Licensure Notary Page
  • Pay $36 license fee

Applicants who hold a bachelor’s degree (and are within four courses of graduating from a master’s program) may apply for a Class 5 license.

The Class 6 School Counselor Specialist License issued in Montana is valid for five years. Renewals cost $30. School counselors must complete 60 renewal units per renewal cycle.

Class 5 licenses either expire or are upgraded. They do not renew.

Substance Abuse Counseling Licenses in Montana

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Montana Board of Behavioral Health

The Montana Board of Behavioral Health credentials Licensed Addiction Counselors (LAC) and Licensed Addiction Counselor Candidates (LAC Candidate).

Requirements for an LAC Candidate license include:

  • A minimum of an associate degree from an accredited institution in alcohol and drug studies, addiction, or substance abuse or an associate in a related field with at least six semester credit hours in human behavior, sociology, psychology, or a similar emphasis, three semester credit hours in psychopathology, and nine semester hours in counseling
  • 330 hours of education and training in addiction courses
  • A completed application
  • A background check, including fingerprinting
  • A Training and Supervision Plan form
  • $250 application fee

LAC applicants must meet the requirements for a LAC candidate license, as well as:

  • Pass either the NAADAC NCAC Level 1 or Level 2 exam, the Northwest Certified II exam, the Southwest Certification II exam, the NAADAC MAC exam, or the IC&RC ADC or AADC exam
  • Complete 1,000 hours of supervised work experience

Renewals for LAC and LAC candidate licenses are due every year. LAC licenses cost $128 to renew and LAC candidates cost $85.

Complete applications must be submitted along with 20 hours of continuing education. New license holders are not required to submit hours for their first renewal.

Rehabilitation Counseling Licenses in Montana

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

Montana Department of Labor & Industry Board of Behavioral Health

Rehabilitation counselors in Montana must hold either a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor Candidate (LCPC Candidate) license.

In order to earn an LCPC Candidate credential, applicants must:

  • Complete a master’s program in counseling of at least 60 semester hours with CACREP core courses. Candidates may apply for licensure with only 45 semester credits. However, the remaining 15 credits must be completed within five years of licensure.
  • Submit a completed application and additional forms
  • Pay a $200 application fee
  • Complete a background check with fingerprints

To transition to a full LCPC, candidates must:

  • Complete 3,000 hours of supervised work experience, at least half of which must be postgraduate.
  • Pass the NCE or NCMHCE exam
  • Submit a completed application and related forms
  • Pay $200 application fee

Counseling licenses in Montana are renewed annually. They cost $175.

Counselors are required to submit an online application, as well as 20 hours of continuing education hours. LPC Candidates are not required to complete continuing education hours.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Licenses in Montana

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Montana Board of Psychologists

The Montana Board of Psychologists licenses Behavior Analysts and Assistant Behavior Analysts.

Requirements for licensure are:

  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $600 application fee (behavior analyst) or $250 (assistant)
  • Hold a BCBA (behavior analyst) or BCaBA (assistant)
  • Complete a Montana-approved criminal background check, including fingerprinting
  • Agree to abide by the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts
  • Complete 100 hours of supervised clinical work experience in addition to hours required by the BACB (behavior analysts only)
  • Submit a supervision form (assistants only)

Behavior analyst licenses issued in Montana expire annually on December 31st.

To renew, applicants must:

  • Submit a completed application,
  • Complete 10 continuing education hours per year; one of those hours must be in ethics
  • Pay $600 renewal fee (behavior analyst) or $250 (assistant)

Marriage and Family Therapy Licenses in Montana

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Montana Department of Labor & Industry Board of Behavioral Health

The Montana Department of Labor & Industry Board of Behavioral Health credentials Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Candidates (LMFT Candidate).

Requirements for an LMFT Candidate license are:

  • Complete a master’s program in marriage and family therapy from a CACREP- or COAMFTE-accredited program (or an approved equivalent)
  • Submit a completed application
  • Submit a completed training and supervision plan for supervised work experience
  • Pay a $200 application fee
  • Complete a background check with fingerprints

LMFT license applicants must meet candidate license requirements, as well as:

  • Complete 3,000 hours of supervised work experience in marriage and family therapy
  • Pay $200 application fee
  • Pass the AMFTRB exam

Marriage and family therapy licenses in Montana must be renewed annually.

They cost $175 and therapists are required to submit an online application, as well as 20 hours of continuing education hours.

LPC Candidates are not required to complete continuing education hours.

Child (Pediatric) Behavioral Therapy Licenses in Montana

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
Montana Department of Labor & Industry Board of Behavioral Health

Child therapists in Montana must hold either a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor Candidate (LCPC Candidate) license.

In order to earn an LCPC Candidate credential, applicants must:

  • Complete a master’s program in counseling of at least 60 semester hours with CACREP core courses. Candidates may apply for licensure with only 45 semester credits. However, the remaining 15 credits must be completed within five years of licensure.
  • Submit a completed application and additional forms
  • Pay a $200 application fee
  • Complete a background check with fingerprints

To transition to a full LCPC, candidates must:

  • Complete 3,000 hours of supervised work experience, at least half of which must be postgraduate.
  • Pass the NCE or NCMHCE exam
  • Submit a completed application and related forms
  • Pay $200 application fee

Counseling licenses in Montana are renewed annually. They cost $175.

Counselors are required to submit an online application, as well as 20 hours of continuing education hours. LPC Candidates are not required to complete continuing education hours.

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.

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