How to Become a Counselor in Ohio

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What is Counseling?


If you are looking into colleges and degree programs to prepare for a career in counseling in Ohio, it’s also a good idea to look into the need for counselors in the state. There are over 70,000 professional counselors of various types in the state of Ohio. Those with a counseling degree in Ohio earn around $50,000 yearly, but this figure varies based upon the type of counselor.

Ohio is still one of the top three manufacturing states in the country. Automotive and automotive parts factories still dominate the northwestern area of Ohio. Also, 14% of the state’s jobs are in the food production industry. Unfortunately, these manufacturing sectors of the Ohio economy have suffered many setbacks over the past few decades, and many Ohioans have lost their jobs. This may fuel the need for many different types of professional counselors in the state including career counselors, substance abuse and chemical dependency counselors, social workers, and family therapists. In fact, the educational services, healthcare, and social services sector is the 8th largest industry in the state.

A counselor helps individuals, groups, and family members who are struggling in their home lives, careers, or communities to find solutions to the problems they are facing that keep them from thriving. The goals of such psychological counseling include mental health, emotional wellness, and possibly the achievement of career goals. The means of achieving these goals includes education, learning coping strategies, and finding means of improving one’s self esteem.

There are other very specific types of counselors. Chemical dependency counselors work with people coping with substance addictions. Career counselors help people who need to make a career change. School counselors help students overcome issues they are having with their peers that keep them from thriving academically. Gerontological counseling helps people who are not successfully dealing with issues related to aging.


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Online Counseling Education in Ohio


Kent State University is one of the best counseling colleges in Ohio in terms of specializations offered. It has an amazing array of specifically targeted degree programs to meet the needs for counselors in specific roles.

The University of Akron also has some targeted specialization programs, such as a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in mental health/counseling. They also have a doctorate in counseling psychology.

Tiffin University has a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in addiction counseling. The degree program prepares students to sit for the examination for the second-highest level of chemical dependency counselor licensure in the state.

Ohio State and the University of Toledo have master’s degrees in clinical mental health counseling and school counseling that also lead to state licensure.

Ohio University also has master’s degrees in counseling. One is for clinical mental health counseling, another is for clinical rehabilitation counseling and the third is for school counseling. All lead to state licensure provided you meet all other criteria.

Online Associate Degree in Counseling (AS)

Remarkably, you can break into the field of chemical dependency recovery as a chemical dependency counselor assistant even before you have an associate degree. The state of Ohio has a Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant (CDCA PRE) Preliminary Certification. This requires 40 hours of education that can be completed through CEU units or in a college program. Either way, the education provider’s program must be approved by the state. After 10 months, you can provide proof of passing another 30 hours of instruction through the same approved providers and can achieve the full CDA certification. This certification can be renewed every two years.

With an associate of science in behavioral science or nursing, along with 180 hours of specific coursework and an internship or compensated work in the field of chemical dependency rehabilitation, you can achieve a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor II (LCDC II) certification in Ohio.

There is also a Social Work Assistant certification that you can earn to begin working in the field of social work under other professionals with a minimum of an associate degree in social work technology. There is some very specific coursework required for the certification.

No matter which direction you choose, it should only take around two years to complete an associate degree. These degrees usually require around 60 credit hours to complete and they can immediately give you access to entry-level positions in the field.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Counseling (BS)

If you do not have an associate degree in behavioral science or nursing, a bachelor’s degree in any field from an accredited university along with the requisite hours of work in the field of chemical dependency, passing an examination and completion of the state-required coursework will also allow you to achieve the LCDC II certification in Ohio.

The next step up, a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor III (LCDC III) certification, requires a bachelor’s degree that must be either in a behavioral science or nursing. As with the other chemical dependency certifications, there are hours of work in the profession, an examination that must be passed as well as the completion of coursework.

A candidate can become a licensed social worker in the state of Ohio if they have received their bachelor’s in social work and have passed the examination specific for bachelor-level candidates.

A bachelor’s degree in counseling requires around 120 credit hours for completion. It usually also takes around four years to complete if students are able to attend full-time, though it will likely take longer if you can only attend part-time, either because of family or work commitments. One positive is that, if you have already earned an associate degree and are working in the field, you may be able to transfer some of your earned credits into your bachelor’s program. This can allow you to begin your bachelor’s as a junior in your third year, rather than a freshman in your first year.

Online Master's Degree in Counseling (MS)

The Ohio LCDC III certification for chemical dependency counselor accepts a master’s degree in behavioral science or nursing as well as hours of work experience, an examination, and required coursework. The same requirements exist for the Ohio Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor (LICDC) certification.

Counselors and marriage and family therapists all require a minimum of a master’s degree as well as successful passage of a licensing examination and hours of internship in the field. They typically set up their internship hours within the guidance of their master’s program.

Social workers with a master’s in social work will take a different examination to receive state licensure in Ohio than those who receive state licensure who have a bachelor’s degree only.

Those who wish to complete a master’s degree in order to improve their credentials should be able to complete a program in around two years. Even if you cannot attend on-campus, online programs are available and master’s programs are often created for busy, working professionals. That way, those who are working with their license earned after completing a bachelor’s degree can gain higher-level licensure while they work toward completing their experience requirements.

PhD Degree in Counseling (PhD)

A doctorate in psychology is the minimum level of education required for a school psychologist or other psychologist. The college must be accredited by a national or regional, nationally recognized accreditation agency. This requirement applies to both psychologists who work with patients or students using the techniques of psychotherapy, as well as research psychologists who may work in academia or industrial settings. They are also required to complete a supervised practicum for two years and pass both a computerized examination called the EPPP and an oral examination. All of the supervised work in the field must be performed concurrently with their doctoral program.

Doctoral programs can take a very long time to complete – anywhere from three to seven years – depending on your focus and the program you choose. However, while you complete your program, you will have unprecedented access to qualified faculty and the opportunity to work with research, be involved in publications, and gain teaching experience if you choose to work in academia after you graduate. Not only will this increase your skills and knowledge, but it will also provide you with a great deal of credibility in the field, allowing you to work at the highest level or increase your income significantly after you graduate.

Become a Counselor in Ohio


The first point to realize if you want to become a counselor in Ohio is that any college, university, or any other type of school where you take courses to achieve licensure must be approved by the state, or you will have even more hoops to jump through. In the case of chemical dependency counselors, the lower tiers require coursework. To receive your certification as a counselor, you must take courses that the state has approved. You won’t be able to take coursework from other providers for those certifications.

For those Ohio counseling certifications and licensures of most all types that require a bachelor’s and above, you must attend a CACREP-accredited institution, the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. If you have not attended a CACREP-accredited institution of higher learning, you will apply for your licensure through another portal of the state’s licensure agency. They will be looking to see if the college is an accredited institution that has been accredited by an agency recognized by the federal Department of Education through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). They will also be looking more closely at your coursework to ensure that it meets requirements.

The other thing to realize is that almost all of these licensures and certifications require background checks and, often, FBI fingerprinting.

The following are the specific requirements for the types of counselors that require certification or licensure in the state of Ohio:

  • Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant (CDCA PRE) Preliminary Certification
    • 40 hours of coursework
  • Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant (CDCA) Certification
    • 30 hours of additional instruction over the CDCA PRE
  • Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor II (LCDC II) Certification
    • Associate degree in behavioral science or nursing or bachelor’s degree in any field from accredited university
    • 180 hours of specific coursework
    • 2,000 hours of chemical dependency counseling, paid or internship
    • 220 hours performing work in the 12 core functions of a chemical dependency counselor
    • Passage of the state ADC examination
  • Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor III (LCDC III) Certification
    • Bachelor’s degree in a behavioral science or in nursing
    • 2,000 hours of practicum in the field
    • 220 hours performing the 12 core functions in the field
    • 180 hours of coursework
    • Passage of the ADC examination
  • Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor (LICDC) Certification
    • Master’s degree in a behavioral science or nursing in a state-approved program. 40 semester hours of the program must be in 10 special content areas.
    • 2,000 hours of chemical dependency counseling work
    • 220 hours of work in the 12 core functions of chemical dependency counseling
    • 180 hours of specific coursework
    • Passage of ADC examination
  • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
    • Master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling, clinical rehabilitation counseling or addiction counseling
    • 3,000 hours of supervised, clinical experience over two years
    • Passage of NCE examination
  • Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC)
    • LPC licensure
    • 3,000 additional, supervised clinical hours over two years
    • Passage of NCMHCE examination
  • Social Work Assistant (SWA)
    • Completion of a minimum of an associate degree in social work technology.
  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
    • Bachelor’s degree or higher in social work
    • Successful passage of examination appropriate for degree level
  • Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW)
    • Master’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program
    • 3,000 hours of supervised experience over two years
    • Passage of your choice of the Clinical or Advanced Generalist examination
  • Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)
    • Completion of a master’s or doctoral program in marriage and family therapy
    • Completion of all of the college program’s internship requirements
    • Passage of AMFTRB examination
  • Psychologist and School Psychologist
    • Doctoral degree in psychology or school psychology from an institution of higher learning that has accreditation from one of the six regional accreditation agencies under the American Council on Education
    • Passage of EPPP computerized examination
    • Passage of oral examination
    • 3,600 hours of supervised practicum
  • Certified Ohio Behavior Analyst
    • Master’s or doctoral degree in behavior analysis, natural science, education, psychology, counseling, social work, human services from a nationally or regionally-accredited US university. There are some very specific coursework requirements within the degree.
    • Passage of a written, accredited examination on behavioral analysis
    • 1500 hours of supervised experience in the field

Careers for Counseling Graduates


  • Career Counselor

    Career counselors help people of all employment ages find meaningful employment. They assess their client’s strengths and aptitudes as well as their experiences and background to help them find suitable careers to pursue. They can find work in schools, employment agencies, government employment development departments, or even as independent consultants.

  • Substance Abuse/Addiction Counselor

    Substance abuse and addiction counselors help clients who are struggling with dependencies on chemical substances. They may work in out-patient clinics or in residential facilities to help clients end their dependencies upon addictive substances.

  • Counselor (Private Practice), Child Counselor, Marriage and Family Counselor, Mental Health Counselor

    These counselors help individuals, families and groups of people solve psychological problems that are keeping their clients from wellness, happiness, and productivity in their lives. They often work in private practice settings but can work in in-patient facilities as well, using techniques of psychotherapy to help clients break through psychological problems.

  • Community Health Worker

    A community health worker is someone who provides a link between healthcare agencies, the public health sector, and the community in which they serve. The goal is to help under-served citizens gain access to healthcare and social services.

  • Social Worker

    Social workers, like community health workers, are liaisons between the public and local government social services offices or between the public and other agencies. They help their clients navigate life situations that are often difficult like finding food, shelter, and safety. They help clients overcome issues such as homelessness, poverty, unemployment, domestic violence, addiction issues, mental illness, health issues, disability, and trauma. Social workers can be employed at schools, rehabilitation centers, government social services offices, NGOs, or community service organizations.

  • Residential Counselor

    Residential counselors can be found in substance abuse rehabilitation centers, psychiatric facilities, halfway houses, pediatric psychiatric residential facilities, and facilities for developmentally disabled adults. They are available to help their clients cope emotionally and psychologically with their current situation as well as prepare their path for a transition to independent living or a return to family life.

  • Psychologist

    Psychologists either research or treat psychological disorders. Some psychologists are solely researchers and academics. Other psychologists actively work with clients, helping identify behavioral disorders, creating treatment programs, using methods of psychotherapy, and making referrals to appropriate providers. Psychologists who work with patients can be found in private practice, hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, prisons, and community health centers.

  • School Psychologist

    School psychologists perform academic testing, as well as cognitive and psychological testing, to determine the least restrictive placement for a student so that they can thrive in school academically and socially. These placements include RSP programs, special education classes, and even classes for behavior-challenged students.

  • Behavioral Analyst

    Behavioral analysts specialize in solving issues in specific environments related to desired and undesired behaviors. One common setting for a behavioral analyst is to examine, diagnose, and devise treatments for autistic children. Behavioral analysts also find work in the human resources field, marketing strategy, mobile app development, or social media.

    Other types of counselors include:

    • Psychiatrist
    • Clinical Therapist
    • College Counselor
    • Group Counselor
    • School Counselor
    • Educational Counselor (Teacher)

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