If you’re looking to make a difference in the lives of your fellow Georgia residents, a career in psychology, counseling, or social work might be the perfect fit. But to join the ranks of these professionals, you need to have the appropriate state license. Since licensing requirements vary by position and state, it’s important to know the education and experience you need to meet the exact criteria.
Interested to learn more about license requirements for mental health professionals in Georgia? Keep reading to find out what you’ll need to begin a successful career in one of these rewarding fields.
Psychology Licensure in Georgia
Holding a license as a general or specialized clinical psychologist in Georgia authorizes you to administer testing and provide psychotherapy without supervision. To qualify for licensure, you’ll have to meet the education and experience requirements established by the Georgia State Board of Examiners of Psychologists.
A doctoral degree in applied psychology is the minimum education requirement to earn psychology licensure in Georgia. In most cases, you’ll earn a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)degree, though a few less common degrees—like a Doctor of Education—may be accepted.
No matter your program, it must be accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA), with the exception of degrees in industrial/organizational (I/O) psychology or degrees from international programs. Applicants with these degrees must meet the following criteria:
- Doctoral I/O psychology degrees must be in I/O psychology programs listed in the “Designated Doctoral Programs in Psychology” published by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) and the ASPPB National Register. Or, I/O psychology applicants must demonstrate that they meet 15 of the 25 competencies listed in the “Guidelines for Education and Training in I/O Psychology” by the APA Society for I/O Psychology.
- Doctoral degrees from international programs are subject to Board approval and must be from a program that was accredited professionally at the time they were awarded.
To meet licensing requirements, your degree must include at least 3 academic years of full-time graduate study. You must complete at least 2 of the 3 years at the program from which you received your degree, with least 1 of these years in full-time residence.
Education requirements also include the completion of an accredited internship or an internship with a member of the Association of Psychology and Internship Centers (APPIC). It must last for 1 full-time year or 2 half-time years for a total of 2,000 hours.
Psychology licensing requirements
Georgia’s psychology licensing requirements also include experience and testing criteria. The Board partners with the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) to process license applications and verify these credentials through the Psychology Licensure Universal System (PLUS). Participation in the PLUS program also allows you to apply for the Certificate of Professional Qualification in Psychology (CPQ). This designation provides you with the chance to expedite licensing in any other jurisdiction that participates in the CPQ program.
After earning your doctoral degree, you’ll submit an application to the Georgia Board, who will then work with the ASPPB to review your credentials. If your application is approved, you’ll receive authorization to begin the examination process to earn your provisional license. Holding this license allows you to work toward completing the postdoc hours that are required to receive full licensing.
To qualify for a provisional license, you’ll have to take 2 exams:
- The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP): This exam, developed by the ASPPB, consists of 225 multiple-choice questions and must be passed with a score of at least 500 out of 800.
- The Georgia Jurisprudence Examination: This Board-developed exam is a timed, multiple-choice test on laws, rules, and provisions specific to the state.
In addition to meeting the education and exam requirements, you’ll have to complete 1,500 hours of postdoctoral supervised work experience in your intended area of practice. Qualifying postdoc experiences must last between 11 and 24 months, with at least 500 hours of client/patient contact.
Within the last 2 months of your experience, you can be scheduled to take the oral exam administered during monthly Board meetings. This is the final step in the process to earn your full license.
All psychology licenses in Georgia expire on December 31 of even-numbered years. To renew your license, psychologists must complete 40 continuing education (CE) credits during each 2-year period, including 6 CEs in professional ethics at a personally attended workshop.
Georgia doesn’t offer license reciprocity for out-of-state psychologists, however, you can apply for licensure by endorsement. To be eligible, the licensing standards in your former jurisdiction must meet or exceed those of Georgia. You must have already passed the EPPP exam, but will still need to take both the Georgia Jurisprudence and oral examinations.
Psychologist salary and career advancement
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the average annual wage for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in Georgia is $90,760, while the average salary for all other psychologists is $98,360.
Nationally, the number of jobs for psychologists is expected to increase by 8% through 2030. Psychologists who specialize might find additional opportunities, especially in roles focused on the elderly and rehabilitation.
Therapy & Counseling in Georgia
Licensing for therapists and counselors in Georgia is administered by the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists. This board offers 4 types of licenses:
- Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (AMFT)
- Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)
- Associate Professional Counselor (APC)
- Professional Counselor (PC)
The minimum education requirement for any level of therapy or counseling license in Georgia is a master’s degree. Your program must be accredited by one of the following: the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE), or a regionally accredited program recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Additional education requirements apply to specific licenses:
- Associate Professional Counselor: Your master’s degree must be from a counseling program or a program of applied psychology that included at least 600 hours in a supervised practicum or internship.
- Professional Counselor: For master’s, specialist, or doctoral degrees, your education must be from a program that had counseling as its primary content.
- AMFT: Your master’s degree must be from a program in marriage and family therapy or its equivalent, or any program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).
- MFT: Your master’s degree must be in marriage and family therapy, counseling, applied psychology, social work, medicine, psychiatric nursing, applied child and family development, pastoral counseling, applied sociology, or any program accredited by COAMFTE.
You can apply a degree in psychology, sociology, divinity, theology, or child and family development if you’ve taken either of the following:
- 3 courses in clinical content areas
- 2 courses in clinical content with 500 direct practice hours in an internship or practicum for professional counseling, marriage and family therapy, or clinical social work
You also must have completed 2 courses in marriage and family therapy, 2 courses in marriage and family studies, and 1 course in marriage and family therapy ethics.
Therapy and counseling licensing requirements
Georgia’s therapy and counseling license requirements also include experience and testing criteria.
Depending on the license you seek, you must meet the following experience requirements:
- APC: No experience is required. As an APC, you can only participate in professional counseling under supervision for up to 5 years, during which time you can earn the experience needed to apply for PC licensure.
- PC: The amount of experience you need to become a licensed professional counselor depends on the level of degree you hold.
- If you have a master’s degree, you must have either 4 years of post-master’s supervised experience in professional counseling or 3 years of post-master’s supervised experience and at least 300 hours in a supervised counseling practicum or internship.
- Those with a master’s specifically in rehabilitation counseling must 3 years of postgrad supervised experience in a rehab setting or 2 years of supervised experience and 300 hours in a counseling practicum or internship.
- With a specialist degree, you’ll need either 3 years of postgrad supervised experience in professional counseling or 2 years of supervised experience and 300 hours in an internship or practicum.
- If you have a doctoral degree, you must have either a 1-year counseling internship or a 1-year postgrad supervised experience in professional counseling.
- AMFT: You’ll need to complete a 1-year practicum in marriage and family therapy before or after earning your master’s degree. The practicum must have included at least 500 hours of clinical experience and 100 hours of supervision.
- MFT: Current AMFTs must complete 2 years of full-time supervised postgrad experience with at least 2,000 hours of direct clinical practice in marriage and family therapy. Hours must be accrued over a period of at between 2 and 5 years.
If you have a master’s degree but aren’t already licensed as an AMFT, you’ll need to complete 2,500 hours of direct clinical experience. You may apply up to 1 year of an approved practicum of at least 500 hours. The total experience must last between 3 and 5 years.
If you have a doctoral degree, you’ll need to complete 2 years of full-time supervised experience in marriage and family therapy. This can be done after earning either your master’s or doctorate and must include at least 1,500 hours of direct clinical experience. You can apply 1 year from an internship program before or after your doctorate if it had at least 500 hours of direct clinical practice.
Required exams differ by the type of license you seek.
- APC: You must pass either the National Counselor Examination (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).
- PC: You must pass either the NCE or NCMHCE exam unless you hold an APC license in Georgia. APCs aren’t required to retake the exam.
- AMFT: You must pass the Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) National exam administered by the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB).
- MFT: You must pass the MFT exam unless you already have your AMFT license. Previously licensed AMFTs don’t have to retake the exam.
All licenses for therapists and counselors in Georgia expire on September 30 of even-numbered years. To qualify for license renewal, you must document 35 clock hours of continuing education during the preceding 2-year period. At least 5 hours must be in professional ethics related to either counseling or marriage and family therapy, depending on your license.
Georgia doesn’t offer license reciprocity for out-of-state therapists or counselors. However, you might qualify for endorsement if you’re a currently licensed PC or MFT and your state’s requirements are at least equal to those of Georgia. Licensure by endorsement is considered on an individual basis.
Therapist and counselor salaries and career advancement
The BLS reports the following average salaries for therapists and counselors in Georgia:
- Marriage and family therapists: $48,280
- Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors: $44,740
- Rehabilitation counselors: $51,780
- Educational, guidance, and school counselor: $60,120
The BLS predicts that jobs for all types of mental health counselors are likely to increase by 23% through 2030.
Social Work Licensure in Georgia
The same board that oversees licensing for therapists and counselors also administers all licenses for social workers in the state. Depending on your credentials, you can qualify for licensure as a Master Social Worker (LMSW) or Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).
LMSW or LCSW: what’s the difference?
Every state uses its own set of regulations to award social worker licenses. Some states license up to 5 different levels, though Georgia only licenses 2.
An LMSW is a social worker with at least a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree but no postgrad clinical experience. LMSWs can’t provide testing or therapy without supervision, though they can perform case management, consultation, and other nonclinical services.
An LCSW is a social worker with at least an MSW who has completed supervised clinical experience. LCSWs are licensed to practice independently and can run their own private practices without supervision.
Applicants for both licenses have the same education requirements.
To qualify for either an LMSW or LCSW license, you must have an MSW from a program that was accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) at the time the degree was awarded.
Social work licensing requirements
In addition to earning a degree, you’ll also have to satisfy experience and exam criteria to meet social work licensing requirements in Georgia.
There’s no experience requirement to qualify for an LMSW in Georgia. During your postgraduate period, Georgia allows you to practice social work under supervision for up to 1 year without a license while you prepare to take your exam.
Your first 2 years of practice as an LMSW must be performed under direction and supervision. After that, you can begin private practice. However, if you provide counseling or psychotherapy, you must practice under supervision until you qualify to take the LCSW exam.
To qualify for an LCSW, you’ll need 3 years of full-time, postgrad supervised experience in the practice of social work. Your experience must meet the following conditions:
- The first 2,000 hours must be in supervised clinical social work.
- You must have 120 direct supervised hours.
- The total number of hours must be at least 3,000 over a period of 3–9 years.
You may be able to substitute a doctoral degree for 1 year of LCSW-required experience. To do so, your doctoral degree must meet the following conditions:
- Your degree must be in professional counseling, social work, marriage and family therapy, medicine, psychiatric nursing, applied psychology, pastoral counseling, or applied child and family development.
- Your program must include 2,000 hours in a full-time clinical internship over the course of 2–6 years.
- Your internship must include 80 hours of qualified supervision.
Licensing requirements include passing the appropriate exam administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). For an LMSW, you must submit your application to the State Board within 1 year of earning your MSW. If you want to earn an LCSW, you’ll have to finish your required experience before applying for state approval.
Upon approval, you’ll then be required to take the first scheduled exam that relates to your level of license unless you can demonstrate good cause for postponement to the next scheduled exam. LMSW candidates take the Master’s-level exam, while LCSW candidates take the Clinical exam.
All Georgia social worker licenses expire on September 30 of even-numbered years. For either level of license, you must complete 35 clock hours of continuing education during the preceding 2-year period to qualify for renewal. A minimum of 5 hours must be in social work professional ethics.
Georgia doesn’t provide automatic license reciprocity for out-of-state social workers. Applicants must provide proof that they meet or exceed Georgia’s criteria for licensing, however, if you’ve already passed the required exam, you can apply for licensure by exam waiver.
Social worker salary and career advancement
The BLS reports the following average salaries for social workers in Georgia:
- Child, family, and school social workers: $48,200
- Mental health and substance abuse social workers: $46,720
- Healthcare social workers: $54,400
The BLS predicts that jobs for all social workers are expected to increase by 12% through 2030, with the most opportunities likely in substance abuse, healthcare, and mental health.