Florida Psychology, Social Work & Counseling Licensure Requirements
As one of the most densely populated states, Florida attracts a wide variety of professionals. And with job demand increasing specifically in the areas of psychology, therapy, counseling, and social work, you can bet many find employment in these growing fields. Home to many well-known colleges and universities, the Sunshine State also provides students with many options for earning a quality higher education.
Looking to join the ranks of these professionals? Read on to learn all about the requirements you’ll need to meet to earn a license in these fields.
Psychology Licensure in Florida
From earning your initial license to licensure renewal, the Florida Board of Psychology outlines all the requirements for getting your Florida psychology license.
As with most states, you’re required to hold a doctorate in psychology to apply for licensure in Florida. While this level of degree is necessary, you have options in terms of the exact degree type you earn. The board accepts transcripts in psychology from Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Doctor of Psychology (PsyD), and Doctor of Education (EdD) programs. Your program must be accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA), the only accrediting agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education for doctoral-level psych programs.
Psychology licensing requirements
Once you meet the education requirements, you’ll need to complete a few more steps.
Supervised practice hours
For a field that can make a significant impact on the lives of others, you can bet that practice is an important part of becoming a licensed professional. In fact, before you can earn licensure, you must complete 4,000 hours of supervised experience. While that may sound overwhelming, keep in mind that 2,000 of those hours will be completed during a doctoral internship, leaving the remaining 2,000 to be completed postdoc.
Gaining your psychology license in Florida requires you to take 2 exams. First, you must pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) offered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). This national exam is required by most state boards for licensure and covers general psychological theories and practices. A passing score is considered a minimum of 500 out of 800 points.
Florida’s Health Psychology Laws and Rules Exam is a state-specific test administered by Pearson VUE. The exam is designed to ensure that you’re able to practice ethically and legally within the state. You must get a score of 80% of higher to pass the exam.
If want to begin working before you earn your official license, consider applying for a provincial license. As long as you hold one of the previously mentioned doctoral degrees, you’re considered eligible to practice under the supervision of a licensed psychologist.
Renewal and continuing education credits
Every 2 years your license is subject to renewal. To renew your license, you’ll need to submit a request, along with a $300 fee and documentation of the proper continuing education credits (CEs). These include 40 hours covering topics such as professional ethics, domestic violence, patient safety, and Florida rules and statutes.
Rather than reciprocity, Florida offers an Endorsement of Other State License. This process is often much more lengthy than the traditional application, as it requires a strict law-to-law comparison of the psychology licensure requirements in your previous state and those of Florida. Your education, experience, and exam scores must be at least substantially equivalent to Florida’s.
Alternatively, if you’re a psychologist with a degree form an APA-accredited program and have at least 20 years of experience, there’s another endorsement options. This often shortens the reciprocity process, giving you the chance to start practicing in Florida sooner.
According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual median wage for psychologists across the nation is $77,030. However, as a practitioner in Florida, you might have the chance to earn more. The BLS lists the average annual salary for psychologists in the state as $97,210.
Many factors impact salary, such as the branch of psychology you specialize in. There are many concentrations to choose from, including clinical, counseling, developmental, forensic, geriatric, industrial, school, and much more.
Therapy & Counseling Licensure in Florida
Florida regulates 2 types of these licenses—marriage and family therapy and mental health counseling. Both are overseen by the Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling.
You must earn a master’s degree corresponding or related to the area of licensure through an accredited program. Although the marriage and family therapy guidelines don’t specify an accrediting body, the guidelines for mental health counseling do. While looking for a program, check to ensure approval by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
Post-graduation, the learning continues with 2 years of supervised practice hours. There are 3 notable requirements to these hours:
- 1,500 hours must be completed face-to-face with clients
- 1 hour must be completed every 2 weeks
- At least 100 hours must be completed within 100 weeks
Beyond that, each license has its own unique education and examination requirements.
Licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs)
LMFTs work with families and couples to address issues that could be negatively affecting relationships both in and out of the home. While in school, you’re expected to complete 36 semester hours or 48 quarter hours in courses that include:
- Dynamics of marriage and family systems
- Marriage therapy and counseling theory and techniques
- Family therapy and counseling theory and techniques
- Individual human development theories throughout the life cycle
- Personality theory or general counseling theory and techniques
- Human sexuality theory
- Psychosocial theory
- Substance abuse theory and counseling techniques
Additionally, you must complete 1 course—3 semester or 4 quarter hours—on each of the following:
- Legal, ethical, and professional standards issues
- Diagnosis, appraisal, assessment, and testing for individual or interpersonal disorders
- Behavioral research focusing on the interpretation and application of research data in a clinical setting
While in school, you must also complete supervised experience in a practicum, internship, or other type of fieldwork, with at least 180 direct contact hours with clients.
Once you’ve completed the education and practice requirements you’ll be ready to take the exam. Developed by the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards, the LMFT exam is offered nationally for a fee of $350. Your scores will be sent to your state licensing board in approximately 20 after the end of the testing period.
There are a few other professionals who can take this test as well. If you’re a clinical social worker, mental health counselor, or advanced practice registered nurse, and you’ve been actively licensed in Florida for at least 3 years, you can take the exam to earn a dual license as an LMFT.
In addition to your graduate work, you’ll need to complete an 8-hour laws and rules course, a 3-hour HIV/AIDS course, and a 2-hour domestic violence course within 6 months of licensure. Each course must be provided by a board-approved institute.
Licensed mental health counselors (LMHCs)
From bipolar disorder to ADHD, LMHCs are trained to diagnose and treat a variety of mental health concerns. To ensure that practitioners are properly trained, the Florida board requires LMHCs to earn at least 60 semester hours or 80 quarter hours in the following 12 areas:
- Counseling theories and practice
- Human growth and development
- Diagnosis and treatment of psychopathology
- Human sexuality
- Group theories and practice
- Individual evaluation and assessment
- Career and lifestyle assessment
- Research and program evaluation
- Social and cultural foundations
- Counseling in community settings
- Substance abuse
- Legal, ethical, and professional standards issues
Your program will include a 1,000-hour supervised practicum or internship. If this is not part of the curriculum, the program isn’t accredited by the CACREP and you won’t be able to earn a license.
The National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) is offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. This is made up of 10 clinical simulations to test your competency in assessment and diagnosis, counseling and psychotherapy, and administration, consultation, and supervision.
Outside of your graduate work, you must complete the same laws and rules, HIV/AIDs, and domestic violence courses that are required of LMFTs.
Renewal and continuing education requirements
Both LMFTs and LMHCs are required to renew their license every 2 years by completing 30 continuing education units. Practitioners renewing their license for the first time are exempt from this requirement. There are 6 categories that are required for renewal:
|Subject Matter||Number of Hours|
|Ethics and Boundaries||3|
|Laws and Rules||3|
|Qualified Supervisor Training||4|
The required categories vary depending on what round of renewal you’re in. For example, the laws and rules, domestic violence, and qualified supervisor training are only required every third renewal period.
As with psychologists, Florida offers therapy and counseling endorsement rather than reciprocity. To earn endorsement, your education must have been earned from a regionally accredited program. You’ll also need to hold a current out-of-state license and have been practicing for at least 3 years.
Submitting the following information to gain licensure through endorsement is required:
|Official transcripts||Official transcripts|
|License verification form||License verification form|
|Certificate of 8-hour laws and regulations course||Passing score report of the clinical NCMHCE exam|
|Certificate of 3-hour HIV/AIDS course*||Certificate of 8-hour laws and regulations course|
|Certificate 2-hour domestic violence course*||Certificate of 3-hour HIV/AIDS course|
|Certificate of 2-hour domestic violence course*|
*To be completed within 6 months of licensure
Therapist and counselor salaries
According to the BLS, LMHCs working in Florida earn an average annual salary of $44,490, while LMFTs earn an average of $51,250. Both of these figures are roughly in line with the average wages for these roles across the nation.
Social Work Licensure in Florida
The Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling also oversees the licensure of Florida social workers, of which there are 2 distinctions—Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW).
LCSW and CMSW: what’s the difference?
The primary difference between these 2 classifications is whether you’re practicing at the clinical or administrative level. If you intend to focus on the clinical aspects of social work by working 1-on-1 with clients, then the LCSW is for you. The CMSW, on the other hand, is geared towards those who are interested in an administrative focus. In fact, the board doesn’t allow those holding a CMSW to provide clinical services.
The LCSW and CMSW both require practitioners to have a master’s degree in social work earned through a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
From there the educational requirements for each license vary.
You’ll need to complete 24 semester hours or 32 quarter hours in courses specific to the theory of human behavior and practice methods in clinical service. Courses not considered to be clinically focused, such as administration, organization, and community, don’t count towards this requirement. You’ll also need to complete at least 1 course in psychopathology.
As part of your program you’ll need to complete an internship or practicum, in which you provide clinical services to clients.
To earn your license, you need to complete 3 semester hours in the following areas:
- Agency administration and supervision
- Program planning and evaluation
- Staff development
- Community organization
- Community services
- Social planning
- Human services advocacy
Social work licensing requirements
In addition to your education requirements, the board has determined a handful of other requirements you must meet to practice social work in Florida.
Supervised practice hours
LCSWs need to complete 2 years of post-master’s experience under the supervision of a licensed clinical social worker. The experience must include:
- 1,500 hours of face-to-face psychotherapy with clients
- 1 hour of supervision every 2 weeks
- At least 100 hours completed within 100 weeks
CMSWs need to complete 3 years of field experience with 2 of those years being completed at the post-master’s level. These experiences can be supervised by either another CMSW or an LCSW.
The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) offers the exams for LCSWs and CMSWs. These are the National Clinical Social Work Exam and the National Advanced Generalist Social Work Exam.
No matter which exam you take, you’ll need to have completed or be in the process of completing your post-mater’s practice. The real distinction between the exams is that the clinical test is focused more on patient care while the advanced general exam focuses on bigger picture administrative services.
LCSW applicants take additional courses outside of their graduate studies. These include the 8-hour Florida laws and rules course, the 3-hour HIV/AIDS course, and the 2-hour domestic violence course. The domestic violence class must be completed within 6 months of receiving your license, while the other 2 must be completed prior to applying.
Renewal and continuing education credits
Every 2 years, you’ll need to renew your license by completing 30 continuing education credits. These CEs must cover 25 hours of general study, 2 hours of medical error, and 3 hours of ethics and boundaries. You’ll also need to complete 3 hours of laws and rules and 2 hours of domestic violence every third renewal period. These 5 additional hours will be included in the general study CE.
Those with an out-of-state license can apply through endorsement. To do so, you must submit the following documents:
- Official master’s degree transcripts
- Practicum or internship letter
- License verification form
- ASWB official passing score report
- Certificate of 8-hour laws and rules course
- Certificate of 3-hour HIV/AIDS course
- Certificate of 2-hour domestic violence course, completed within 6 months of licensure
Social worker salary
In general, Florida social workers earn an average annual salary of $67,270. That said, the wage you make will be largely influenced by the exact type of social work you do. This may include specializations such as mental health, substance abuse, healthcare, child and family, or school social work.
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