How to become a licensed counselor through an online program

By Saybrook

The path to becoming a licensed counselor doesn’t have to take place inside of a classroom. It can happen online in any setting that works best for you.

Life can be complicated and busy. Sometimes it’s difficult to pursue dreams that require rigorous education or training. Luckily, online programs are available to those who aren’t able to attend or find it challenging to learn through a traditional classroom setting. For those who wish to become a counselor, online education can be a viable option.

What’s the path to becoming a licensed professional counselor?

Becoming a practicing, licensed counselor begins with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. While psychology is the most common major among those aspiring to be a counselor, other options may exist for those who wish to specialize in a specific area.

Following the completion of an undergraduate degree, would-be counselors go on to pursue a master’s degree and then possibly a doctoral degree. States have differing requirements. Make sure your education is in compliance with the state in which you hope to practice.

Once education is completed, aspiring counselors will go on to seek their counseling licensure and certification in the state in which they will practice.

How does this change for online programs?

Largely, the ins and outs of completing a degree online are the same as a traditional classroom setting. The obvious difference is the location from which you’ll be completing your degree. But online education doesn’t change the rigor and focus of your studies. Rather, it allows space for you to pursue your education in whatever setting makes becoming a counselor possible.

What’s the same?

Following the completion of your online degree, you’ll seek licensure just as those who obtain a degree in a traditional setting do. This process includes completing supervised clinical hours, a background check, counselor examinations, and any other certifications necessary depending on your specialization. This process may be slightly different depending on each state, so you’ll want to make sure you seek out an exact path depending on where you’ll be practicing.

Why choose online versus a traditional classroom setting?

The benefits of choosing an online program stretch far and wide. Often with flexibility in pacing, some students find they thrive best seeking a degree online.

If you’re interested in obtaining your degree online, you may want to speak with a counselor from your desired program. He or she can help you talk through your unique situation and give you more information about the requirements for the program you’re interested in.

All in all, a nontraditional path toward your career as a counselor does not have to stop you from achieving licensure. In fact, pursuing your career online could be an empowering process that lets you work in a way that’s more tailored to your needs. Depending on the program you choose, you can become a licensed counselor from wherever works best for you.

Explore our M.A. Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling Specialization and Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision degrees.

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