Licensure and Certification

Counseling Licensure

A counseling license allows a counseling professional with the proper education, experience, and supervision to offer counseling services to children, adolescents and adults in Illinois. A counseling license is required to work in a community agency setting and K-12 schools. Licensure is not always required, but is highly recommended, for individuals working higher education settings. There are two types of general counseling license in Illinois. The first level license is called The Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). The second level license is called the Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC). Illinois School Counselors are Licensed with a Professional Educators Licence (PEL) through the Illinois Board of Education.

Application Materials

An LPC is a protected title license. As a LPC, you can work as a counselor offering professional counseling services to children, adolescents, and adults. You may work in a community agency, school or higher education setting. You must work under the supervision of a licensed clinical counselor, clinical social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist. However, as a LPC, you cannot work in independent practice. This means that you must always receive counseling supervision when you work with clients.

How to Become a LPC

In order to obtain an LPC license, you must:

  • Have a master's degree in counseling or its equivalent. This means a 48-hour program with at least one course in each 13 counseling areas. Each course must be three credits. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredited programs automatically meet this education requirement.
  • Apply to the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) for a license. Complete the Application in Black ink
    • When you complete the top portion of the IDFPR LPC/LCPC application ED form, you will need to drop off or mail the physical form with original signature to the NIU Registration and Records office to complete and affix the university seal.
    • When completing the Academic Criteria-Professional Counselor (AC-PC) form of the LPC/LCPC application, include "CACREP" in the comments column for all courses completed within the NIU Counseling program or another CACREP accredited institution accredited when the courses were completed.
    • The CT form is not applicable for MSEd Counseling graduates as it is required only if you ever held or hold a permanent license in any state or country
  • Pass the National Counselors Examination (NCE). There are two ways to apply to take the NCE examination. You can apply for this examination during your last semester in NIU's counseling program as a part of your National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential application. A faculty member will contact you the semester prior to inquire and confirm your eligibility to be added to the respective spring or fall NBCC NCE roster if you wish to take the exam before graduation. Or you can wait until after you graduate and register to take the NCE when you apply for your LPC license.
  • Whether you take the NCE as part of NBCC or wait until after you graduate to take the NCE, you must apply to IDFPR for your LPC license. If you take the NCE as part of your NBCC NCC credential application, you will need to request for NBCC to send your official exam scores to the IDFPR after your application has been mailed.
  • Include a copy of your official transcripts (post-degree conferment) with your physical application packet.

To work as a school counselor in a school setting, students must be licensed with an Educator License through the Illinois State Board of Education. The licensure program provided by Northern Illinois University is certified by the Illinois State Board of Education and is designed to assure candidates meet all state laws and regulations.

Upon completion of the 60-semester hour program in school counseling, students are eligible to apply for Educator Licensure. An Educator License allows students to work as a K-12 counselor in a school setting.

How to Obtain a School Counselor Educator License

Licensure with a Teaching License/Certificate
Licensure without a Teaching License/Certificate
  • Students must complete nine additional credit hours in graduate or undergraduate level courses in order to qualify for Educator Licensure. The following classes listed below are approved to fulfill this requirement.
    • TLCI 500 - Curriculum, Instruction, and the Community
    • EPS 550 - Classroom Management (elementary/grade school) or EPS 552 Classroom Management (middle/high school)
    • SESE 557 - Systems for Integrating the Exceptional Student in the Regular Classroom
      • Note: Additional courses may be substituted for the classes above. Advisor approval must occur before registration.

A LCPC is a clinical-level independent practitioner license with both title and service protections. As a LCPC, you can work as a clinical counselor offering professional clinical counseling services to children, adolescents and adults, in individual, paired, or group formats you have been trained. You may work in a community agency, school, higher education, or in a private practice setting; billing for services to insurance providers when applicable.

How to Become a LCPC

In order to obtain an LCPC license, you must:

  • Have a Master's degree in counseling or its equivalent. This means a 48 hour program with at least 1 course in 13 counseling areas. Each course must be 3 credits. **CACREP accredited programs automatically meet this education requirement.
  • Pass the National Counselors Examination. Many applicants for the LCPC license already have their LPC license, so they have previously taken and passed the NCE. If you have not taken and passed this examination, you must pass it in order to obtain your LCPC license.
  • Have 3360 hours of supervised professional counseling work experience and one hour per week of supervision with a qualified supervisor. You must work under the supervision of a licensed clinical counselor, clinical social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist. This is the equivalent of two years full-time counseling work.
  • Pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMCHE). When you complete your work experience and apply to IDFPR for your license, IDFPR will register you for the NCMCHE.
  • Apply to the Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR) for a license.

Visit the National Board of Certified Counselors for current and complete information regarding national certification.

Visit the Center for Credentialing and Education for current and complete information regarding Approved Clinical Supervisor certification.

Contact Us

Department of Counseling and Higher Education
Gabel Hall 200
815-753-1448
cahe@niu.edu

Counseling Admissions
Graham Hall 416
815-753-5749
cahc_admissions@niu.edu

Higher Education and Student Affairs Admissions
Gabel Hall 201 B
815-753-1306
dmiesbauer@niu.edu