Pennsylvania Counselor License Exam

To get licensed in Pennsylvania, Professional Counselors are required to take an exam covering such subjects as human growth and development, psychopathology, group therapy and professional ethics. Whether you live in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Scranton, or another city or county, the resources below will help you get started on the path to receive your Professional Counselor’s license.

Need of a License:  A license is needed to work as a counselor in Pennsylvania. Licenses are granted by the State Board of Social Workers, Marriage, and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors

To qualify to become a licensed professional counselor in Pennsylvania, the following must be met:
  • Obtain a graduate degree in counseling from an accredited school meeting credit limits.
  • Meet supervised clinical experience requirements, 50% of which must be in:
    • Assessment.
    • Counseling.
    • Therapy.
    • Psychotherapy.
    • Other therapeutic interventions.
    • Consultation.
    • Family therapy.
    • Group therapy
  • Pass the NCE (National Counselor Exam)
How to Apply for Licensure

An application for licensure must be submitted on forms provided by the PA Board. of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors. The application licensure fee must be submitted by check or money order, payable to the ‘‘Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.’’   Two certificates of recommendation on forms furnished by the Board are needed, and an affirmation signed by the applicant verifying the information on the application. is true and correct.  The application for licensure can be obtained by contacting the Board as follows:

State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors, Post Office Box 2649
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17105-2649

(717) 783-1389,
socialwo@pados.dos.state.pa.us.

Test Content of the NCE

The NCE measures the applicants’ knowledge of the following eight content areas:
  1. The psychology of Human growth and development
  2. Socio-cultural diversity
  3. Establishing Helping relationships
  4. Group dynamics and group therapy
  5. Career goals and development
  6. Assessment  of psychopathology and treatment needs
  7. Research methods and program evaluation
  8. Professional orientation and ethical practice.
The applicant’s knowledge of the following five work areas are also measured by the NCE:
  1. Fundamental issues in counseling
  2. The process of counseling
  3. Diagnostic and assessment services
  4. Professional practice issues
  5. Ongoing professional development and the need for clinical supervision and consultation.
The exam consists of 200 questions, 40 of which are not scored, but are included for purpose of research.  The actual score is based on 160 questions.  The number of questions the applicant must get correct to pass varies between test versions. Four hours is given to complete the exam.
 
For more information, see the NCE Candidate Handbook.

How to Apply to Take the Exam

A PDF of the NCE application is available online, along with test dates.

License or Certification Renewal and Continuing Education Requirements

To renew a license, regulations require 30 clock hours of continuing education in acceptable courses and programs offered by approved Continuing Education providers must be completed, including at least three hours on professional ethics. Up to 20 hours may be acquired from home study e.g., on- line webinars, reading and testing. Hours over 30 may not be carried over into the next licensure renewal period.

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For more information on licensing and exam prep, go to Tests.com's NCE Guide.

And take Tests.com's free NCE Practice Test.

For counseling exam preparation products and services, such as study guides, practice tests, flashcards and courses, go to Tests.com's 
NCE listings.

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