How to Become a Counselor in Idaho

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What is Counseling?


Counselors can choose to work with specific populations such as children, teens, adults, or the elderly. This may concentrate their skills even further. Depending on the area of expertise, employment opportunities may be available in numerous settings, from rehabilitation facilities to private practices. All counselors are generally capable of providing assistance in one-on-one and group sessions. Some may even offer counseling over the phone.

Regardless of specialties, counselors are all dedicated to helping people live healthier, happier lives. They have the knowledge and skills necessary to assist others with a variety of social, emotional, and mental health problems. Many professionals also help their patients manage the physical and psychological difficulties that can accompany various conditions, as well as serve as advocates. It’s also worth noting that counselors cannot prescribe medications of any kind; that requires a different type of preparation and licensure.

Job specifics and requirements differ widely from position to position, making it essential to review posted details prior to applying. Some of the most common responsibilities shared by many counselors include evaluating clients and assessing readiness for treatment, developing and reviewing treatment plans and goals, and assisting in skills and behaviors development. Many professionals also provide education and assistance in developing various coping strategies when applicable. Coordination with other medical and mental health experts may also be necessary when developing and managing patient treatment plans.

Working conditions for counselors will depend on the type of work performed. Most work full-time and many are employed by family services offices, care centers, hospitals, community / vocational rehabilitation facilities, outpatient mental health, substance abuse centers, service centers, hospitals, residential substance abuse facilities, or schools. Licensed counselors may own and manage their own practices.

Keep in mind that the work performed by counselors can be stressful. While highly rewarding, the job is often demanding, consisting of large workloads and long hours. It’s not uncommon for these professionals to work or be on call during evenings, nights, and/or weekends.


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Counseling Education in Idaho


Are you considering enrolling in a counseling degree program in Idaho? This is the ideal major and profession for individuals who want to assist others in overcoming challenging situations, as well as encouraging people and helping them create positive changes in their lives. Counseling students learn how to provide appropriate social, emotional, and mental support using a wide variety of techniques. They also gain the knowledge and skills needed to work with different demographics such as children, couples, and the elderly. Working as a counselor can be emotionally taxing but the profession does offer several benefits, including opportunities to make a meaningful impact in the lives of others and decent job security.

According to data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for many counseling occupations is expected to increase nationwide from 2020 to 2030. The professions that will see the greatest growth include genetic, substance abuse, behavioral disorder, mental health counselors, and marriage and family therapists. Projections also indicate a rise in employment for school and career counselors and advisors. These professions can expect increases of between 11 and 26%, which is significantly more than the average of other occupations. This will account for about 84,800 new counseling jobs added to the market per year.

Most of this projected growth is expected to occur due to an increase in people seeking addiction and mental health counseling services. Providers are beginning to coordinate with other specialists more, encouraging a trend towards treating multiple problems simultaneously. Many court systems are also beginning to sentence drug offenders to treatment rather than jail time. Additionally, continued demand for qualified professionals will result from the need to replace workers transferring to different occupations or exiting the labor field.

The educational services, healthcare, and social assistance industry is the fourth largest of all industries in Idaho. It accounts for $7 billion in revenue each year. However, it’s also worth noting that the state is ranked second in the country for healthcare growth. Not only has the revenue in this industry risen 46% in the last ten years, but it is expected to rise another 36% in the coming years.

While counseling programs are available throughout the nation, with distance learning options readily available, those who intend to pursue counseling positions in Idaho should strongly consider enrolling at a local college or university. Licensing requirements for counselors vary by state and, as a result, local institutions will be most familiar with and capable of preparing graduates for the certification process. Schools in Idaho institutions also tend to offer the most geographically relevant coursework and may already have connections with employers in nearby communities.

A degree in counseling will allow you to pursue several different career paths within the field. Most colleges and universities give students the option to select a concentration that focuses their studies on a particular topic. This selection will greatly impact the type of work performed.

Some of the most common areas of specialization include:

  • Addiction
  • Eating Disorders
  • Bereavement
  • Mental Health
  • Family
  • Trauma
  • Military

Are you considering enrolling in a counseling degree program in Idaho? This is the ideal major and profession for individuals who want to assist others in overcoming challenging situations, as well as encouraging people and helping them create positive changes in their lives. Counseling students learn how to provide appropriate social, emotional, and mental support using a wide variety of techniques. They also gain the knowledge and skills needed to work with different demographics such as children, couples, and the elderly. Working as a counselor can be emotionally taxing but the profession does offer several benefits, including opportunities to make a meaningful impact in the lives of others and decent job security.

According to data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for many counseling occupations is expected to increase nationwide from 2020 to 2030. The professions that will see the greatest growth include genetic, substance abuse, behavioral disorder, mental health counselors, and marriage and family therapists. Projections also indicate a rise in employment for school and career counselors and advisors. These professions can expect increases of between 11 and 26%, which is significantly more than the average of other occupations. This will account for about 84,800 new counseling jobs added to the market per year.

Most of this projected growth is expected to occur due to an increase in people seeking addiction and mental health counseling services. Providers are beginning to coordinate with other specialists more, encouraging a trend towards treating multiple problems simultaneously. Many court systems are also beginning to sentence drug offenders to treatment rather than jail time. Additionally, continued demand for qualified professionals will result from the need to replace workers transferring to different occupations or exiting the labor field.

The educational services, healthcare, and social assistance industry is the fourth largest of all industries in Idaho. It accounts for $7 billion in revenue each year. However, it’s also worth noting that the state is ranked second in the country for healthcare growth. Not only has the revenue in this industry risen 46% in the last ten years, but it is expected to rise another 36% in the coming years.

While counseling programs are available throughout the nation, with distance learning options readily available, those who intend to pursue counseling positions in Idaho should strongly consider enrolling at a local college or university. Licensing requirements for counselors vary by state and, as a result, local institutions will be most familiar with and capable of preparing graduates for the certification process. Schools in Idaho institutions also tend to offer the most geographically relevant coursework and may already have connections with employers in nearby communities.

A degree in counseling will allow you to pursue several different career paths within the field. Most colleges and universities give students the option to select a concentration that focuses their studies on a particular topic. This selection will greatly impact the type of work performed.

Some of the most common areas of specialization include:

  • Addiction
  • Eating Disorders
  • Bereavement
  • Mental Health
  • Family
  • Trauma
  • Military

In order to gain employment in counseling or a counseling-related job, you will need some form of advanced education. While some positions in the field may be attainable with only a high school diploma, the best prospects will be available to those with degrees. Counseling programs are available at every level – associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral. Keep your ultimate career goals in mind as you consider which degree type is most appropriate.

Associate Degree in Counseling (AS)

It’s important to realize that most counseling jobs in Idaho are reserved for candidates who possess graduate degrees. While associate programs in counseling are available, only master’s graduates will meet licensing requirements for full licensure. This level of education can still be valuable, however, as some entry-level employment opportunities are available such as counseling assistants, human service assistants, and caseworkers.

Many graduates at this level opt to pursue further education. An associate degree can serve as an introduction to the field and may be less expensive to acquire from community institutions. The credits earned can then be transferred to a traditional, four-year college or university later.

Associate degrees in counseling generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework. For full-time students, graduation requirements can generally be met within two years. These programs provide an overview of the foundational knowledge necessary to be successful in future study. Courses are likely to cover introductions to various psychological theories and models used in practice.

Bachelor's Degree in Counseling (BS)

The majority of people interested in counseling careers start by earning bachelor’s degrees. This is because most master’s programs require candidates to have bachelor’s degrees in counseling or a related topic such as psychology, sociology, or clinical social work. Again, this level of education is not enough to qualify graduates for counseling licensures, but it will provide the foundational knowledge needed to pursue further education and/or can lead to some other employment opportunities in the field.

Bachelor’s degrees consist of 120 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately four years to complete. Students enrolled part-time may need an additional two to four years to graduate. Most of these programs are designed to prepare students for study at the graduate level. Courses focus on important counseling theories and concepts, as well as critical thinking and communication skills development.

Master's Degree in Counseling (MS or MC)

Licensing requirements vary depending on the type of counseling offered, but most licensing boards expect candidates to have master’s degrees. This is particularly relevant for those interested in becoming mental health and school counselors. Completing this level of education and obtaining the appropriate credential will give graduates the ability to find professional employment and begin assisting clients.

Most master’s degrees consist of 60 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately two years to complete. Programs vary, but they provide instruction in advanced counseling practices and theories, and most also strive to help students develop critical thinking and decision-making skills. Courses are generally comprised of a combination of classroom learning, research, and practical applications. Many also incorporate supervised practicum and clinical internships to help prepare students for licensure requirements.

PhD Degree in Counseling (PhD)

Doctoral degrees in counseling may be required to practice in certain specialty areas. They are also optimal for professionals interested in pursuing leadership positions in the field, or those interested in academia. Deciding to earn a degree at this level can be very beneficial and will lead to some of the most prestigious career opportunities available in research and/or education at the postsecondary level.

Most doctoral degrees consist of between 90 and 120 credit hours and take full-time students five to seven years to complete. Programs are designed to provide a comprehensive assessment of the field, as well as enhance the skills necessary to perform research. Every institution is different, and curriculum will depend on your specific area of study.

Become a Counselor in Idaho


If you want to work in the counseling field in Idaho, the first step is identifying your ultimate career goals. What type of services do you want to provide and what demographic are you most interested in serving? With so many different options available, it’s important to identify your specific goals as clearly as possible. Knowing your ultimate objectives will make it easier to select an applicable program and degree type.

Requirements are different for school counselors, substance abuse counselors, and mental health counselors. Most types of counseling positions necessitate completing a 60-hour graduate degree program, although prospective substance abuse counselors can earn certification with only 21 credit hours. The school counselor licensure process is overseen by the Idaho State Department of Education, while substance abuse counselors are licensed through the Idaho Board of Alcohol and Drug Counselor Certification.

To become a general mental health counselor in Idaho, students will need to enroll in a graduate program that covers several important content areas including human growth and development, group theory and practice, lifestyle and career development, and professional orientation. Students must also complete a supervised internship, during which time they are considered Registered Counselor Interns (RCIs).

After graduation, mental health counselors can attain status as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) or Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors (LCPCs). LPCs must complete 1,000 supervised hours of post-graduate counseling, while LCPCs need 2,000 supervised hours. Applicants for licensure will also need to pass examinations. LPCs require passing scores on the National Counselors Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE), administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). LCPCs, on the other hand, must pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam (NCMHCE), also administered by NBCC.

In Idaho, licensing requirements for mental health counselors are overseen by the Idaho Board of Professional Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists, a branch of the Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses. You should also note that LPC and LCPC licenses expire annually. Renewal necessitates paying a fee and completing all continuing education (CE) requirements. Both professional types must complete 20 hours of CE over a 12 month period, including at least three hours of face-to-face ethics instruction.

Additionally, counselors of all kinds working in Idaho should strongly consider joining the Idaho Counseling Association. This professional organization strives to bring counseling and human development professionals in education, healthcare, residential treatment, private practice, community agencies, governments, and business settings together. Memberships are available to current counselors, persons working in the mental health field, students, and retired professionals. Benefits of joining include access to conferences, events, community education, leadership development, and networking opportunities.

Careers for Counseling Graduates


As previously mentioned, choosing to earn a counseling degree in Idaho can lead to a number of great career options. While salaries and daily duties will vary, some of the most common professions available to graduates include:

  • Private Practice Counselor
  • Community Health Worker
  • Clinical Therapist
  • Social Worker
  • Organizational Counselor
  • Psychologist
  • Sports Psychologist
  • Health Psychologist
  • Genetic Counselor
  • Child Counselor
  • College Counselor
  • Military Counselor
  • Group Counselor or Therapist
  • Family Therapist
  • Marriage and Family Counselor
  • Behavioral Therapist
  • Educational Counselor
  • School Counselor
    School counselors are primarily responsible for helping students achieve their personal, academic, social, and development goals. These professionals may achieve this by providing assistance with adjusting to a new school and/or preparing to enter college. They may also consult parents, intervene during challenging situations, refer to support services, and aid students in overcoming various obstacles. According to PayScale, school counselors make an average base salary of $51,355 per year.
  • Clinical Social Worker
    Clinical social workers are primarily responsible for assisting individuals who require mental or emotional support within a community. These professionals achieve this by coordinating patient care interactions, negotiating with their party groups, communicating with patients, and conducting psychosocial evaluations. They may work in hospitals, mental health clinics, residential nursing facilities, home healthcare companies, or substance abuse treatment centers. According to PayScale, clinical social workers make an average base salary of $57,620 per year.
  • Substance Abuse/Addiction Counselor
    Substance abuse and addiction counselors are primarily responsible for the treatment of patients struggling with or recovering from substance use and abuse. These professionals achieve this by providing counseling in individual and group settings, creating treatment plans, implementing therapeutic treatments, and evaluate patient progress. They may also maintain updated histories and notes regarding observations made. According to PayScale, substance abuse and addiction counselors make an average base salary of $39,931 per year.
  • Residential Counselor
    Residential counselors are primarily responsible for serving live-in patient facilities. To achieve this, these professionals oversee treatment planning and execution for residents in various types of facilities housing individuals struggling with addictions, disabilities, or mental health issues. They are specially trained to handle crises events and resolve conflicts within the residence through individual and group counseling sessions. According to PayScale, residential counselors make an average base hourly rate of $14.46, or approximately $39,684 per year.
  • Career Counselor
    Career counselors are primarily responsible for assisting their clients in pursuing and achieving their ultimate job goals. These professional achieve this by first identifying the most optimal career paths, providing advice regarding education requirements for possible professions, and utilizing various assessment tests to gauge personality, interests, and aptitude. They may also conduct mock interviews and background evaluations, as well as assist with career changes. According to PayScale, career counselors make an average base salary of $46,474 per year.
  • Grief Counselor
    Grief counselors, or bereavement counselors, are primarily responsible for guiding patients through the various stages of grief after loved ones have passed away. They may also work with those dealing with divorce or other types of loss. These professionals achieve this by utilizing exceptional listening skills and striving to understand the underlying feelings and emotions involved with each loss. Their ultimate goal is to help people work through issues related to death and loss in healthier ways. According to PayScale, grief counselors make an average base salary of $46,864 per year.
  • Mental Health Counselor
    Mental health counselors are primarily responsible for diagnosing and treating mental health problems and illnesses in patients. These professionals achieve this through one-on-one and group counseling sessions designed to help patients work through and/or resolve existing issues. They may also specialize in particular types of care, from young adult therapy to addiction. According to PayScale, mental health counselors make an average base salary of $44,242 per year.
  • Psychiatrist
    Psychiatrists are primarily responsible for determining whether or not their patients have mental disorders. These professionals achieve this by evaluating past and present symptoms, behaviors, and past medical histories. They may also help their patients manage, ease, or heal disorders with various treatments and/or medications. According to PayScale, psychiatrists make an average base salary of $215,587 per year.

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