Counseling Degrees & Licenses in West Virginia

West Virginia, a small state in Appalachia featuring a population of nearly two million people, experiences several challenges within its mental healthcare system and thus offers ample opportunity for recent graduates seeking to contribute their skills to the effective functioning of the state healthcare system. 

Specific issues that challenge the state’s healthcare system include a high rate of poverty, a relatively low rate of digital connectivity and a shortage of professionals specializing in substance abuse treatment. A high poverty rate also makes it challenging to generate the funds to maintain existing infrastructure and invest in new infrastructure. 

Shortages in the availability of both primary care practitioners and behavioral health specialists contribute to long waiting times to access treatment. Additional factors contributing to poor health outcomes include aggressive marketing efforts by the tobacco industry, a prevailing perception of limited economic opportunity within the state, and limited transportation infrastructure that makes it difficult to efficiently access care.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2022), most West Virginians (53.1 percent) receive no mental health treatment. The state fares especially poorly regarding youth outcomes; Mental Health America ranks the state 39th for this population based on metrics such as the prevalence of mental illness and rates of access to care. West Virginia also has one of the highest rates of deaths of despair, namely deaths attributable to suicide, drug overdoses, and alcohol-related disease.

Current efforts to enhance the state’s mental healthcare system include adopting telehealth programming and workforce retention programs designed to incentivize skilled professionals to remain in West Virginia. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021), openings for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors are forecast to increase 23 percent nationally from 2020 to 2030.

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

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Accredited Counseling Degree Programs in West Virginia

West Virginia University (Online Options)

The West Virginia University (WVU) Department of Counseling and Learning Sciences offers a 63-credit master of arts in counseling degree. The program offers two study tracks: clinical mental health counseling and school counseling. Students may subsequently select an Area of Emphasis (AOE) from one of three options: community agency, school counseling, or clinical mental health.

  • Clinical mental health counseling (CMHC) – Graduates of this program receive the training necessary to become licensed professional counselors.
  • School counseling – This program trains professional counselors to work with student populations ranging from pre-K to adults. Graduates of this program are also trained to effectively work with numerous stakeholders, including parents, teachers, school administrators, and varied members of the larger local community. The curriculum is designed based on the American School Counselor Association’s (ASCA) National Model and the West Virginia Comprehensive Developmental School Counseling Program Model.

WVU also offers a low-residency, 63-credit master of science degree program in clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling. This program is largely online with only two visits to campus required. Graduates of this program develop extensive skills to effectively work with various people with disabilities. 

  • Location: Morgantown, WV
  • Duration: Two years or more, depending on full-time or part-time status
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: Resident part-time, $499 per credit up to nine credits; resident full-time, $4,491 per semester; non-resident part-time, $1,407 per credit; non-resident full-time $12,663 per semester

Marshall University (Online Options)

The Marshall University College of Education and Professional Development offers a 60-credit master of arts degree in counseling. Students may choose one of two emphases: clinical mental health or school counseling. For those pursuing clinical mental health counseling, the 60-credit requirement is based upon a standard maintained by the West Virginia Board of Examiners in Counseling.

  • Clinical mental health – Graduates of this program may apply for the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credential. To become an LPC, graduates must complete post-graduate supervision and pass either the National Counselor Exam (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam (NCMHCE)
  • School counseling – Graduates of this program are eligible to apply for a license, a certification or both. The LPC-WV license is granted through the West Virginia Board of Examiners in Counseling. Prior to licensure, applicants must complete post-graduate supervision and pass the National Counselor Exam (NCE). The West Virginia Department of Education offers a Pre-K-Adult School Counseling Certification. Applicants for this certification must pass the PRAXIS II Professional School Counselor Examination (5421).

Students interested in other professional development opportunities may elect to complete a five-course program to receive a graduate certificate of advanced studies in the topics of violence, loss, and trauma counseling. This certificate equips professionals to develop skills related to trauma-informed mental health counseling.

  • Location: Huntington and South Charlestown, WV
  • Duration: Three years or more
  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: Resident students, $4,441 per semester; non-resident students, $10,717 per semester; metro residents, $7,873 per semester

How Much Do Counselors Earn in West Virginia?

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

Clinical and Counseling Psychologist Salaries

United StatesWest Virginia
Number employed58,100390
Average annual salary (mean)$99,640$63,410
10th percentile$47,010$35,250
50th percentile (median)$82,510$50,350
90th percentile$167,460$101,780

Marriage and Family Therapist Salaries

United StatesWest Virginia
Number employed54,80050
Average annual salary (mean)$59,660$43,550
10th percentile$37,050$36,040
50th percentile (median)$49,880$38,830
90th percentile$96,520$61,140

Rehabilitation Counselor Salaries

United StatesWest Virginia
Number employed90,310490
Average annual salary (mean)$44,740$42,480
10th percentile$28,890$24,290
50th percentile (median)$38,560$37,200
90th percentile$65,880$75,360

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselor and Advisor Salaries

United StatesWest Virginia
Number employed57,1101,100
Average annual salary (mean)$82,770$51,110
10th percentile$49,260$30,320
50th percentile (median)$78,780$49,360
90th percentile$124,950$63,480

Counseling Professional Associations & Resources in W. Virginia

  • West Virginia Counseling Association
  • West Virginia Board of Examiners in Counseling
  • West Virginia Licensed Professional Counselors Association
  • West Virginia Bureau for Behavioral Health
  • American Association for Marriage And Family Therapy, West Virginia
  • Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification

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

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
West Virginia Board of Examiners in Counseling

West Virginia licenses Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) and Provisional Licensed Professional Counselors (Provisional LPC).

The requirements for a Provisional LPC license are:

  • A completed application
  • A $250 application fee
  • Two professional recommendations from professionals in the field of counseling who hold at least a master’s
  • Three personal recommendations
  • A master’s degree from a CACREP or comparable accredited institution. Programs must be 60 semester credits of 90 quarter credits in length and have coursework in 12 core areas and include both a practicum and internship.
  • Pass the NCE, NCMHCE, or CRC

To receive a full LPC license, candidates must meet the requirements for a provisional license, as well as complete 3,000 hours and two years of supervised work experience. At least 50 percent of the hours must be direct contact with clients. There must be one hour of supervision for every 20 hours of practice. Up to 600 hours may be credited for a practicum or internship completed during a master’s degree.

Doctorate holders need to only complete 1,500 hours and one year. Supervision must be continuous with no more than a six-week break.

Both full LPC and provisional licenses in West Virginia must be renewed annually by June 30th. The fee for renewal is $145.

Every two years, counselors must complete 35 continuing education hours. Three of those hours must be in ethics, and two must be related to veterans.

School Counseling Licenses in West Virginia

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
West Virginia Department of Education

The West Virginia Department of Education issues a student support certificate to school counselors.

The requirements for an initial certificate are:

  • Have a master’s degree in counseling from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Complete an approved program for school counselors
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $100 application fee
To advance from an initial to a professional license, school counselors must:
  • Complete two years of full-time work experience, with one of those years being in a West Virginia school district
  • Complete a beginning educator internship program
  • Complete six semester credit hours of relevant coursework or have a master’s and a +30 advanced salary classification or be at least 60 years old
  • Have a recommendation from the superintendent

The initial school counselor certificate issued in West Virginia is valid for three years.

To renew, applicants must:

  • Complete six semester credit hours of relevant coursework or have a master’s and a +30 advanced salary classification or be at least 60 years old
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay $35 application fee

A renewal license is valid for five years. School counselors may apply for a permanent license after two five-year certificates, turning 60 years old, or earning a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification.

Substance Abuse Counseling Licenses in West Virginia

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

West Virginia Certification Board for Addiction and Prevention Professionals (WVCBAPP)

The West Virginia Certification Board for Addiction and Prevention Professionals (WVCBAPP) certifies Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) and Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC).

ADC certificate candidates must:

  • Submit a signed and notarized application
  • Pass the ADC exam from IC&RC
  • Pay $75 application fee
  • Have a total of six years of education and work experience (a minimum of three years of chemical and behavioral dependency related work experience; general work experience in counseling can count for up to three years of experience, or an associate’s counts for 1,000 hours, a bachelor’s for 2,000 hours, and a master’s for 4,000 hours)
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Complete 300 hours of education, of which 70 hours must be addiction specific and six hours must be in ethics
  • Complete supervised work experience (ten hours in each of the 12 core functions and hours are based on education: high school graduates need 300 hours, those with associate degrees need 250 hours, those with bachelor’s degrees need 200 hours, and those with master’s degrees need only 100)
  • Sign the counselor code of conduct

AADC license candidates must:

  • Submit a signed and notarized application
  • Pass the AADC exam from IC&RC
  • Pay $75 application fee
  • Complete 6,000 hours of work experience, of which at least 2,000 hours must be post-graduate
  • Have a master’s degree
  • Complete 300 hours of education, of which 70 hours must be addiction-specific and six hours must be in ethics
  • Complete 100 hours of supervised work experience (10 hours in each of the 12 core functions)
  • Sign the counselor code of conduct

Recertification for ADC and AADCs in Virginia is required every two years. Both recertifications cost $175.

Counselors are required to complete 40 hours of continuing education per renewal cycle, including six hours of ethics

Rehabilitation Counseling Licenses in West Virginia

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

West Virginia Board of Examiners in Counseling

West Virginia rehabilitation counselors are either Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) or Provisional Licensed Professional Counselors (Provisional LPC).

The requirements for a Provisional LPC license are:

  • A completed application
  • A $250 application fee
  • Two professional recommendations from professionals in the field of counseling who hold at least a master’s
  • Three personal recommendations
  • A master’s degree from a CACREP or comparable accredited institution. Programs must be 60 semester credits of 90 quarter credits in length and have coursework in 12 core areas and include both a practicum and internship.
  • Pass the NCE, NCMHCE, or CRC

To receive a full LPC license, candidates must meet the requirements for a provisional license, as well as complete 3,000 hours and two years of supervised work experience. At least 50 percent of the hours must be direct contact with clients. There must be one hour of supervision for every 20 hours of practice. Up to 600 hours may be credited for a practicum or internship completed during a master’s degree.

Doctorate holders need to only complete 1,500 hours and one year. Supervision must be continuous with no more than a six-week break.

Both full LPC and provisional licenses in West Virginia must be renewed annually by June 30th. The fee for renewal is $145.

Every two years, counselors must complete 35 continuing education hours. Three of those hours must be in ethics, and two must be related to veterans.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Licenses in West Virginia

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 West Virginia.

However, the 2018 Applied Behavioral Analysis law stipulates that in order for ABA therapy to be reimbursable by insurance it must be provided by a BCBA certified provider.

Those providing ABA therapy in West Virginia who want to bill insurance will need to maintain a BCBA certification and meet those continuing education standards.

Marriage and Family Therapy Licenses in West Virginia

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements
West Virginia Board of Examiners in Counseling

West Virginia credentials Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) and Provisional Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (Provisional LMFT).

The requirements for a Provisional LMFT license are:

  • A completed application
  • A $250 application fee
  • Two professional recommendations from professionals in the field of counseling who hold at least a master’s
  • Three personal recommendations
  • A Verification of Supervision form
  • A master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from a COAMFTE or comparable accredited institution, including a 300-hour practicum
  • Passing score on the AMFTRB exam
To receive a full LMFT license, candidates must meet the requirements for a provisional license, as well as:
  • Complete 3,000 hours and two years of supervised work experience

At least 50 percent of the hours must be direct contact with clients. There must be one hour of supervision for every 20 hours of practice. Up to 600 hours may be credited for a practicum or internship completed during a master’s degree. Doctorate holders need to only complete 1,500 hours and one year. Supervision must be continuous with no more than a six-week break.

Both full LMFT and provisional licenses in West Virginia must be renewed annually by June 30th. The fee for renewal is $145.

Every two years, counselors must complete 35 continuing education hours. Three of those hours must be in ethics, and two must be related to veterans.

Child (Pediatric) Behavioral Therapy Licenses in West Virginia

Licensing AuthorityEligibility & DetailsRenewal Requirements

West Virginia Board of Examiners in Counseling

West Virginia child therapists are either Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) or Provisional Licensed Professional Counselors (Provisional LPC).

The requirements for a Provisional LPC license are:

  • A completed application
  • A $250 application fee
  • Two professional recommendations from professionals in the field of counseling who hold at least a master’s
  • Three personal recommendations
  • A master’s degree from a CACREP or comparable accredited institution. Programs must be 60 semester-credits of 90 quarter-credits in length and have coursework in 12 core areas and include both a practicum and internship.
  • Pass the NCE, NCMHCE, or CRC
  • Supervisor’s Verification and Assessment Form

To receive a full LPC license, candidates must meet the requirements for a provisional license, as well as complete 3,000 hours and two years of supervised work experience. At least 50 percent of the hours must be direct contact with clients. There must be one hour of supervision for every 20 hours of practice. Up to 600 hours may be credited for a practicum or internship completed during a master’s degree.

Doctorate holders need to only complete 1,500 hours and one year. Supervision must be continuous with no more than a six-week break.

Both full LPC and provisional licenses in West Virginia must be renewed annually by June 30th. The fee for renewal is $145.

Every two years, counselors must complete 35 continuing education hours. Three of those hours must be in ethics, and two must be related to veterans.

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.