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Iowa State Licensing Requirements

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Whether you’re a native or transplant to the state of Iowa, you’ll find opportunities for psychologists, social workers and counselors. But what degree should you pursue, and what do you need to do to be licensed to practice in the helping professions?

If you would like to get the training and skills to help people cope with life issues, overcome mental-health problems, and just generally improve the quality of their lives, keep reading to learn about going to psychology school in Iowa.

Getting Licensed to Practice in Iowa

Licensing is an important step before you can become a practicing social worker, psychologist, therapist or counselor.

After earning your degree, you’ll need to pass a state and/or national exam and meet other licensing requirements in your particular field. Here are some of the requirements to practice in the following areas, according to the Iowa Bureau of Professional Licensure (BPL). Make sure to consult the BPL for the full requirements.


  • Doctoral degree in psychology from a university accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools or an equivalent accrediting association or entity in other regions. At the time of graduation, the program must also be accredited by one of the following entities: the American Psychological Association, the Canadian Psychological Association, or the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB)
  • Passing score on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
  • 1,500 hours of supervised professional experience

Clinical psychologist salary in Iowa

Clinical and Counseling Psychologists
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Median Hourly Wage$41

Job growth11.4%

Total Employment520

Metro area Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Ames, IA $93,590 $74,340 $136,500
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA $93,280 $59,150 $139,400
Iowa City, IA $93,210 $64,130 $166,380
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL $81,610 $47,910 $135,660
Cedar Rapids, IA $66,620 $51,220 $136,320

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022 median salary; projected job growth through 2032. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

Mental Health Counselor

  • Master’s or doctoral degree in mental-health counseling from an institution accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educations Programs (CACREP)
  • Pass the National Counselor Examination of the NBCC, or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination of the NBCC, or the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Examination of the CRCC
  • Minimum of two years of supervised clinical experience, including at least 3,000 hours of mental health counseling, with at least 1,500 hours of direct client contact and 200 hours of clinical supervision. This must include a minimum of 25% of in-person clinical supervision.

Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFP)

  • Master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (CACREP)
  • Two years of full-time, post-grad supervised professional work experience in marriage and family therapy of at least 3,000 hours, including 1,500 hours of direct client contact and 200 hours of clinical supervision. This must include at least 25% of in-person clinical supervision.
  • A passing grade on the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory (AMFTRB) exam

Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW)

To become a licensed clinical social worker, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:

  • Master’s degree or higher in social work from a CSWE-accredited program
  • Pass the clinical-level national exam administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB)
  • Supervised professional practice for LISWs: 4,000 hours of post-master’s social work degree experience performing psychosocial assessment, diagnosis and treatment over a minimum of two years (and up to six years)
  • Check the Iowa Board of Social Work for more details.

Making the Most of Your Degree

While you’re in school, you should think about joining pertinent professional associations that accept students. Membership in organizations such as the Iowa Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers offers great benefits:

  • Access to job databases and community resources
  • Information about legislation that affects your work, and what you can do in response to new laws affecting your specialty area
  • Forums for interacting with peers and experts in your field
  • Consultation with advocates in your profession regarding legal and ethical issues

So which field of psychology is right for you: counselor, therapist, social worker or psychologist? Make sure to get off on the right foot, and research your degree options and licensure requirements early to ensure that you’ll be efficient in your studies and can get into the right helping profession for you.

Source: www.idph.state.ia.us/licensure