Minnesota Psychology, Social Work & Counseling Licensure Requirements
Minnesota contains nearly 12,000 lakes, 66 state parks, and countless other areas for recreation, making the state a beautiful place to enjoy heart-healthy outdoor activities. The mental and emotional health of its 5.6 million residents is also taken care of, thanks to the nearly 4,000 psychologists and more than 55,000 social service workers in the state.
What’s more, Minnesota enjoys a low unemployment rate of just 2.8%, placing it fifth in the nation. So, if you’re looking for a place to join the ranks of psychologists, therapists, counselors, and social workers, Minnesota is a great place to pursue a career. Though every state has rules and regulations for these industries, Minnesota’s are a bit stricter when it comes to earning your license. Read on to learn all about what you can expect as you embark in these rewarding fields.
Psychology Licensure in Minnesota
To legally practice psychology in Minnesota, you need to earn a license administered by the Minnesota Board of Psychology. You’ll need to follow the board’s exact requirements for education, experience, and testing before you can practice independently.
The first step toward earning a psychology license is to get a bachelor’s degree. Many aspiring psychologists choose to major in psychology, but related subjects such as social work, human services, or sociology can be a strong foundation for the rest of your education.
Next, you’ll need to earn a master’s degree level of education. You can either purse a separate master’s program or explore doctoral programs that incorporate master’s level coursework. You’ll likely have to take the GRE no matter which option you choose, although not all schools require it. A GPA of at least 3.0 is likely required for admission, and many schools require higher.
Your doctorate program will typically either be a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree, though there are a few other less common options you can choose to pursue. While either degree will allow you to practice psychology in Minnesota, keep in mind that a PsyD degree is more focused on treating patients directly, while a PhD emphasizes research and teaching. It’s important to note that no matter which degree type you choose, your program must be accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).
PsyD degrees typically take between 4 and 6 years to complete, while PhDs, because of their extensive focus on research, often take between 5 and 8. In Minnesota, your program must meet the requirements laid out by the Office of the Revisor of Statues. These include the following coursework:
- Minimum of 6 semester credits or 9 quarter credits of research design, statistics, and psychological measurement, with at least 1 semester and 1 1/2 quarter credits in each
- Minimum of 6 semester credits or 9 quarter credits in psychological intervention or data analysis, or a combination of these areas
- Minimum of 6 semester credits or 9 quarter credits in assessment, evaluation, or data collection, or a combination of these areas
- 3 semester credits of 5 quarter credits of biological bases of behavior
- 3 semester credits of 5 quarter credits cognitive-affective bases of behavior
- 3 semester credits of 5 quarter credits of social bases of behavior
- 3 semester credits of 5 quarter credits of personality theory and human development
- 3 semester credits of 5 quarter credits of human diversity
- 3 semester credits of 5 quarter credits of professional ethics and standards of conduct
Minnesota requires that at least 24 of your semester hours, or 384 clock hours, are earned in a 12-month residency at your university. You must also complete a pre-graduation internship that meets the following requirements:
- Minimum of 1,800 hours
- Minimum of 20 hours per week of supervised experience
- Minimum of 1 hour per week under the primary supervisor on a 1-on-1 basis
- Completion within 12–30 consecutive months
Psychology licensing requirements
There are a few more steps to take before you can apply for licensure in Minnesota. You’ll need to complete postgraduate work experience under the supervision of a fully licensed psychologist. This experience needs to last for at least 1 full-time year (or the part-time equivalent) and include another 1,800 hours.
Your supervisor will send a detailed account of your work to the board. You can then apply to take your exams. Minnesota requires the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) administered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). This exam is given to aspiring psychologists nationwide and consists of 225-multiple choice questions. You must earn a score of at least 500 out of 800 in order to pass.
After the EPPP, you must pass Minnesota’s jurisprudence exam known as the Professional Responsibility Exam (PRE). The PRE tests your knowledge of the Psychology Practice Act Rules of Conduct that are the standards of the state.
Your final application to the board will be for your full license. You’ll need to include:
- Test scores
- All fees owed to the board
- Endorsements from 2 qualified individuals
A psychology license in Minnesota needs to be renewed every 2 years. You’ll be required to earn 40 continuing education credits during each 2-year cycle.
Minnesota grants reciprocity to psychologists who have earned licensure in other states as long as they have been licensed for at least 5 consecutive years directly before application. You’ll need to take the following steps:
- Submit a notarized application
- Prove your license is in good standing and there are no pending complaints filed against you
- Take and pass the PRE
Psychologist salary and career advancement
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in the state of Minnesota earn an average annual salary of $82,130, while all other psychologists earn an average wage of $86,420.
Across the country, job opportunities for psychologists are expected to increase by 14% through 2026. Psychology career advancement can mean stepping into leadership roles in a healthcare or social services organization or going into private practice.
Therapy & Counseling Licensure in Minnesota
Minnesota recognizes 4 types of counselors and therapists, each with different educational and testing requirements. Knowing what type of aid you’d like to provide your clients can help you choose the right program for your goals. Licensed therapy and counseling roles offered in Minnesota include:
- Licensed alcohol and drug counselor (LADC)
- Licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT)
- Licensed professional counselor (LPC)
- Licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC)
Educational requirements range from a bachelor’s degree to a master’s, depending on the license you are pursuing.
Licensed alcohol and drug counselor education
Drug and alcohol counselors are licensed by the Minnesota Board of Behavioral and Health Therapy (BBHT). In order to work as an LADC, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree. Your degree will need to be from an accredited program including at least 18 credits, or 270 clock hours, specific to drug and alcohol counseling. You’ll also need to complete a practicum consisting of 880 hours. The specific degree you earn will depend on your school, but these requirements might be met by programs such as psychology, social work, or human services.
Marriage and family therapist education
The Minnesota Board of Marriage and Family Therapists is responsible for licensing marriage and family therapists in the state. If you want to earn your LMFT licensure, your first step will be to earn a bachelor’s degree in a closely related field like psychology, human services, or social work.
LMFTs are required to have a master’s degree to practice in Minnesota. Your master’s degree will need to be in either marriage and family therapy specifically or contain coursework the board finds equivalent. For example, if your school doesn’t offer a master’s in marriage and family therapy, but does offer a master’s in professional counseling, you might be able to use that degree as long as there is significant coursework dedicated to couples and families.
Professional counseling education
The education level is the same for both types of counselor. Both LPCs and LPCCs are overseen by the BBHT. In order to practice professional counseling, you’ll need at least a master’s degree from a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs. Your education must include at least 48 semester hours or 72 quarter hours and 700 hours of a supervised field experience.
Therapy and counseling licensing requirements
There are several more steps you’ll need to take once you graduate in order to practice in the state, including additional supervised hours and testing.
Drug and alcohol counseling requirements
There are 2 different paths you can take to earning your LADC license. The standard method requires that you take a comprehensive exam administered by the Minnesota Certification Board or the comprehensive exam from the National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals.
Alternately, you can take a non-comprehensive exam and complete 2,000 supervised work hours. You’ll need to submit a supervision plan and get it approved by the board before you can begin your hours.
When either your testing or work hours are complete, you can submit your application to the board. You’ll need to include the fee for licensure and a fee for a complete criminal background check.
Your LADC license will need to be renewed every 2 years. You’ll be required to complete 40 continuing education hours in every 2-year cycle, and 9 of those hours must be dedicated to diversity and 3 dedicated to professional ethics.
Marriage and family therapist requirements
You’ll need to complete 4,000 hours of postgraduate work experience under the supervision of a board-approved LMFT. You’ll be required to complete a criminal background check before completing this experience. You’ll also need to file an initial application for national testing. This application must be filed no more than 6 months from the start of your experience. Hours worked more than 6 months before filing the application cannot be counted towards the 4,000.
Once your application to the board is approved, you’ll be notified of your eligibility to take the Association of Marriage and Family Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) national marriage and family exam.
Your license will need to be renewed every year. Minnesota also requires that you complete 40 hours of continuing education every 2 years. These hours must be reported to the board every odd-numbered year.
Licensed professional counselor requirements
Earning your LPC licensure requires that you complete 2,000 hours of supervised work experience. Some of these can be completed during your graduate program or as part of a previous job. For any hours earned postgraduate, you’re required to submit a supervision plan to the board. If you want to use hours you’ve already earned, you’ll need to submit them to the board for approval. Keep in mind that not all previous hours might be accepted.
You’ll also be required to take the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) National Counseling Examination (NCE). You can submit your final application to the board after taking your exam.
Your first license will be good for 4 years before you need to renew it. After that, your license must be renewed every 2 years. During each cycle, you’ll be expected to complete 40 continuing education hours. You’ll be able to carry over 10 hours each cycle.
Licensed professional clinical counselor requirements
To earn licensure as an LPCC, you’ll need to work 4,000 postgraduate supervised hours. You’ll submit a supervision plan to the board and have it approved before starting your hours. At least 1,800 of your hours must be in direct client contact. For every 40 hours worked, 2 must be supervised. It’s important that you and your supervisor keep accurate records of your hours worked and the supervision you receive.
Since this is a clinical license, your supervised hours will need to be in clinical practice. This means you’ll need to assess, diagnosis, and create treatment plans for patients.
You’ll be required to pass exams after your supervised experience is complete. The first exam will be the NBCCs National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). You’ll then need to pass the board’s ethical, situational, and oral exams. You can submit your final examination to the board after your exams are completed.
The renewal requirements for LPCC licenses are the same as for LPC.
Converting an LPC license to an LPCC license
Counselors who are already working as LPCs are eligible to convert their licenses. You’ll need to complete 2,000 hours of additional clinical supervised experience, including 900 direct client contact hours. You’ll also be asked to meet the following requirements:
- Have no outstanding complaints against your LPC license
- Have a clean criminal background
- Have completed 24 credits of graduate-level clinical coursework
- Have passed the NCMHCE exam
Reciprocity is available for all counseling and therapy professionals in Minnesota. Since all 4 licenses require national exams, applicants are able to submit their previous scores. You’ll also need to submit:
- Proof of education
- Proof your license is in good standing
- Proof of supervised experience
You might be asked to complete additional supervised hours if your previous hours do not meet the board’s requirements, or if your state required less hours.
Therapist and counselor salaries
The BLS lists the following average annual salaries for various therapy and counseling professions in Minnesota:
- Rehabilitation counselors: $40, 940
- Substance abuse, mental health, and behavioral health counselors: $48,570
- Marriage and family therapists: $52,070
- Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselor: $56,310
Therapists and counselors looking to advance their careers can earn a doctoral degree or a postgraduate certificate in the field. This might boost earning potential or allow you to teach aspiring therapists and counselors.
Social Work Licensure in Minnesota
Minnesota social work licensure is offered at 4 levels and is overseen by the Minnesota Board of Social Workers. You’ll need at least a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree to be licensed in the state.
LSW, LGSW, LISW, and LICSW: what’s the difference?
Social workers throughout the country are referred to by different titles, but in general, these titles refer to your level of education and years of experience. Most states, including Minnesota, license social workers based on these factors.
Licensed social worker (LSW)
An LSW is the entry-level license in Minnesota. You’ll need to earn a BSW degree from a program approved by either the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work (CASW). Once your education is complete, licensure requires:
- Submitting an application and fees to the board
- Submitting the fee for the criminal background check
- Sending official transcripts to the board
- Taking the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) bachelor’s-level exam
You’ll need to have 100 hours of direct supervision for every 4,000 hours worked in order to maintain your license at this level.
Licensed graduate social worker (LGSW)
Social workers who have earned a Master of Social Work (MSW) from an accredited school are eligible to apply to for the LGSW licensure. Along with the application, fees, and transcripts, you’ll need to take the master’s-level exam from ASWB to earn your license.
You’ll need to complete 100 hours of supervision for every 4,000 hours of non-clinical practice to maintain your license. If working in clinical practice, 200 hours of supervision is required.
Licensed independent social worker (LISW)
An LISW is the level above an LGSW and allows you to practice without supervision in a non-clinical setting. You can apply for this license if you’ve completed 4,000 non-clinical hours with 100 of those hours being supervised. Your supervisor will need submit a form verifying hours to the board. Again, the application, fess, and transcripts are required, along with taking and passing the ASWB’s advanced generalist exam.
Licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW)
An LICSW is the highest level of social work licensure offered in Minnesota. In order to earn this degree, you’ll need to complete 4,000 clinical hours with 1,800 of direct client contact and 200 hours of supervision. Within those 4,000 hours, it’s required that you work 360 documented clinical hours in the following areas:
- 108 hours of diagnosis and assessment, which include normal development and psychopathology in all age groups
- 36 hours of assessment-based clinical treatment planning and goal setting
- 108 hours of researched-backed clinical intervention methods
- 18 hours of evaluation methods and techniques
- 72 hours of social work values and ethics such as diversity, social policy, and cultural literacy
- 18 hours of work in culturally specific clinical assessment and intervention
When your experience is complete, you can submit an application, including official transcripts and documentation of work hours to the board. The board will notify you when you’re eligible to take the ASWB clinical level exam. Passing the exam is the last step in the licensure process.
Social work renewal requirements
You’ll need to renew your social work license every 2 years during your birth month. All license levels need to complete 40 continuing education credits in each 2-year cycle. If you’re an LSW or LSGW, you’ll also be asked to submit proof of supervision to the board during your renewal.
License reciprocity is known as licensure by endorsement in Minnesota. It’s granted to social workers licensed in other states so long as certain requirements are met.
- Your license must be in good standing
- You must have taken the appropriate ASWB exam for your license level
- You must submit proof that you have worked under an equivalent professional license for 4,000 hours if you’re applying at the LISW level
- You must submit proof that you’ve done clinical work under an equivalent professional license for 4,000 hours if you’re applying at the LICSW level
LSWs and LSGWs don’t need to submit proof of work experience. However, you’ll need to meet the standard board requirements for supervision at this level.
Social worker salary and career advancement
The BLS reports the following average salaries for various social work occupations in Minnesota:
- Social and human service assistants: $36,300
- Community and social service specialists: $48,980
- Child, family, and school social workers: $54,310
- Mental health and substance abuse social workers: $51,860
- Healthcare social workers: $58,530
Social workers looking to expand their career beyond the LICSW level might want to consider earning a doctoral degree in social work. This will allow you to gain leadership and teaching roles and may increase your earning potential.
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