New Jersey Psychology, Social Work & Counseling Licensure Requirements

New Jersey has a lot to offer those who want to work in the helping professions by studying psychology, counseling, therapy, or social work. From popular campuses like Princeton and Rutgers to institutions offering online options, there are many ways to earn the education you need to begin a rewarding career.

But what degree do you need to enter these growing fields and how do you apply for a license? Keep reading to learn about New Jersey’s requirements and the steps you must take to pursue a career.


Psychology Licensure in New Jersey

To work as a practicing psychologist in New Jersey, you’ll need to meet the requirements set by the State Board of Psychological Examiners that’s overseen by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA). Below, find a summary of how to become a licensed psychologist in the state.

Education requirements

To qualify for a psychology license, you must hold a doctoral degree, such as a PhD, PsyD, or EdD, in the field of psychology or another major that meets the credit requirements for licensing.

Your institution must be accredited by a regional agency that’s recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, while the doctoral program itself must be accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) or Canadian Psychological Association (CPA).

In addition, you must complete at least 40 credit hours in the field of psychology, with 6 credits each in the following areas:

  • Personality and human development theory
  • Learning theory and/or physiological psychology
  • Psychological measurement and psychological assessment
  • Psychopathology
  • Psychological therapy/counseling or industrial-organizational Psychology
  • Research and statistical design

You must also complete an additional 20 credits in psychology, though these don’t necessary need to be part of your doctoral program. You can earn them in a pre- or postdoctoral graduate-level program from a regionally accredited institution. At the discretion of the Board, 6 of your total credits can be applied from the completion of a psychological dissertation.

Psychology licensing requirements

Education isn’t the only requirement for licensing. You’ll also need to complete 2 years totaling 3,500 hours of full-time supervised practice, with at least 1 year completed after you’ve received your doctoral degree. The second year must include 1,000 client contact hours, 200 hours of direct supervision with a Board-approved psychologist, and 550 hours of work-related activities.

Once you’ve met these requirements, you’re eligible to sit for the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
administered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). The exam consists of 225 multiple-choice questions and must be passed with a score of at least 500 out of 800. You can then take the jurisprudence exam which covers the specific laws regarding the practice of psychology in New Jersey.

License renewal

All psychologists are required to renew their license by June 30 of every odd-numbered year. You’ll receive specific instructions for how to renew your license roughly 3 months before it expires.

In addition, renewal requires you to complete 40 continuing education credits for every 2-year cycle, including 4 credits related to domestic violence. A minimum of 20 credits must be related to the practice of psychology and be approved by the APA, ASPPB, the National Register of Health Service Psychologists, or the American Medical Association. The remaining credits can come from a variety of sources such as a graduate psychology course at an accredited school, the authorship of a textbook or peer-reviewed article, or teaching or developing psychology curriculum.

License reciprocity

New Jersey doesn’t offer immediate reciprocity to psychologists, so if you’re moving from out of state, you’ll need to apply for a license and prove you’ve met New Jersey’s current requirements. If you have, you can apply for a 1-year temporary permit that allows you to work unsupervised until you pass the oral exam. If you haven’t completed enough hours, you’ll be issued a 3-year permit so you can work toward completing these hours under the direction of a supervisor. When your hours are complete, you can take the oral exam in order to earn your license.

Psychologist salary and career advancement

The salary for licensed psychologists varies depending on the practice setting and subfield of psychology. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in Jersey earn an average annual wage of $97,790, while industrial-organizational psychologists earn $107,950.

Across the United States, the employment of psychologists is expected to rise 14% through 2026, which is double the average growth rate for total occupations.


Counseling Licensure in New Jersey

The DCA’s Professional Counselor Examiners Committee sets the requirements for becoming a licensed counselor in New Jersey. There are 3 primary types of counselor designations: licensed professional counselor (LPC), licensed associate counselor (LAC), and licensed rehabilitation counselor (LRC).

So, what’s the difference? An LPC is allowed to independently practice psychology and provide interventions, appraisals, and assessment. LACs are allowed to practice in the same manner, but they must work under the direction of a qualified supervisor.

LRCs, on the other hand, work independently to address medical, physical, or psychiatric disabilities that substantially affect their patients’ major life activities.

Education requirements

All 3 levels of licensing require a master’s degree, though coursework varies for professional/associate counselors and rehabilitation counselors.

LAC and LPC

Both LACs and LPCs must hold a master’s degree from a program approved by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. It must consist of at least 60 semester hours or the quarter equivalent in counseling, with at least 45 of these distributed among 8 of the following areas:

  • Counseling theory and practice
  • The helping relationship
  • Human growth and development and maladaptive behavior
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Group dynamics, processes, counseling, and consulting
  • Appraisal of individuals
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Research and evaluation
  • The counseling profession

LRC

LRCs must have a master’s degree from a program approved by the Council on Rehabilitation Education and take classes that include:

  • Introduction to rehab counseling
  • Counseling theory and practice
  • Personality theories
  • Psychosocial aspects of disability
  • Medical aspects of disabilities
  • Vocational aspects of disability
  • Evaluation and assessment of individuals
  • Community counseling and case management
  • Research methods and statistics
  • Social and cultural diversity
  • Career and lifestyle development

Also included in the program should be both a practicum and an internship. The practicum must be a minimum of 100 hours and the internship a minimum of 600.

Counseling licensing requirements 

The requirements for the licensing of New Jersey counselors vary by supervised experience and testing.

LAC

The LAC designation is intended for graduates of a master’s program who are working toward completing the required supervised hours to earn their full LPC. You’ll need to provide proof that you’ve met the education requirements and pass the National Counselor Examination (NCE) given by the National Board for Certified Counselors.

LPC

The LPC is designed for those who have already completed the experience requirements. There are 2 options that allow you to meet the criteria:

  • Option A: 3 years or 4,500 hours of supervised counseling experience
  • Option B: 2 years or 3,000 hours, plus an additional 30-semester credits in counseling beyond the standard 60-credit master’s degree

Up to 1,500 hours from a master’s practicum or internship can be applied to these requirements.

LRC

Rehabilitation counselors must meet the same experience requirements as laid out in options A and B for LPCs. If approved by the Board, up to 1,500 hours from a master’s program practicum or internship may be applied.

To earn a license, LRCs must take and pass the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Examination

License renewal

All licenses expire on November 30 of every even-numbered year. You’ll receive information that explains how to renew your license about 60 days prior to its expiration.

To renew, you’ll need to complete at least 40 approved continuing education units every 2-year cycle, except during the initial licensing period. These must include 5 units in ethics and 3 in social and cultural competency.

License reciprocity

If you move to New Jersey from another state, you won’t be automatically granted a license. If you’re a current LPC or LRC, you can apply for licensure if you meet New Jersey’s requirements. If you don’t, you’ll need to pursue additional education or experience before you can apply.

Counselor salaries and career advancement

Counselor salaries can vary depending on your area of expertise. In New Jersey, the average annual wage for mental health and behavioral disorder counselors is $57,200, while rehabilitation counselors earn an average of $59,520 per year.

Overall in the U.S., the demand for mental health counselors is expected to increase by 23% through 2026—a figure that’s more than 3 times that of the national average for all occupations.


Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling Licensure in New Jersey

Those who want to further tailor their careers may choose to focus on the treatment of addiction. In your role as an alcohol and drug abuse counselor, you’ll assess client needs and provide a variety of services such as case management and crisis intervention. The DCA’s Alcohol and Drug Counselor Committee sets the requirements for New Jersey.

You have the option to become either certified or licensed in drug and alcohol counseling. A certified counselor must work under supervision, while a licensed clinical counselor can conduct independent practice and supervise others. There are also limitations put on the duties of certified alcohol and drug counselors. For example, they’re allowed to make patient assessments, but only licensed counselors can make diagnoses.

Education requirements

Your level of education will determine which of the 2 licenses you’re able to pursue.

Certified alcohol and drug counselor (CADC)

You can apply for certification as a CADC with just a high school diploma, however, you need to complete 300 hours of supervised practical training in 12 core competencies of addiction counseling:

  • Screening
  • Intake
  • Orientation
  • Assessment
  • Treatment planning
  • Individual, group, and family counseling
  • Case management
  • Crisis intervention
  • Client education
  • Referral
  • Consultation
  • Recordkeeping

You also need to complete 270 hours of drug and alcohol education in order to earn this credential. These hours can be in many forms, including classroom courses, online programs, seminars, and workshops.

Licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor (LCADC)

To practice as an LCADC, you need to have a master’s degree in counseling, addictions, or another closely related field. Your coursework must include at least 18 credits distributed among the following subjects:

  • Counseling theory and practice
  • The helping relationship
  • Human growth and development and maladaptive behavior
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Group dynamics, processes, counseling, and consulting
  • Assessment of individuals
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Research and evaluation
  • The counseling profession
  • Pharmacology and physiology

As for CADCs, you also need to have 300 hours of practical counseling training and 270 hours of education specific to alcohol and drugs. In most cases, the latter requirement can be fulfilled by your master’s degree coursework.

Alcohol and drug counseling certification and licensing requirements

Both CADCs and LCADCs must meet the same experience and testing criteria. You need to complete at least 2 years of a supervised internship for a total of 3,000 hours, and this must have been completed within the immediate 5 years prior to your application. You also need to have attended 30 alcohol and drug abuse meetings, such as those offered by Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Al-Anon.

Once you’ve completed these requirements, the final step in the licensing process is to take a written and oral exam. The first is developed by the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium and covers the 12 core competencies. You must pass with a score of at least 500 out of 800.

You can schedule your oral exam once the Board receives confirmation that you’ve passed the written. For the oral exam, you’ll be asked to present a case study and answer questions related to all of the core competencies. You must earn a score of at least 76% in order to pass.

License renewal

Your certification or license is valid for 2 years. Roughly 2 months before your license expires, the Alcohol and Drug Counselor Committee will send you a notification with instructions for renewing your license. Within each 2-year cycle, both LCADCs and CADCs must complete continuing education in order to be eligible for renewal, though their requirements slightly vary.

  • LCADCs: 40 hours of continuing education, with at least 3 hours in cultural competency
  • CADCs: 60 hours of continuing education, with at least 3 hours in cultural competency

During the initial renewal period, both LCADCs and CADCs must take a 6-hour course known as the Legal Standards Related to the Practice of Alcohol and Drug Counseling in New Jersey. It’s only required to be taken once, however you can opt to take it again during any renewal cycle and apply it to your continuing education.

License reciprocity

Out-of-state drug and alcohol counselors may be granted certification or a license if the Board finds that they’ve fulfilled requirements equal to those for these counselors in New Jersey.

Alcohol and drug abuse counseling salary and career advancement

As with mental health counselors, substance abuse counselors earn an average annual wage of $57,200 in New Jersey, more than $10,000 higher than the average for these roles across the nation. Keep in mind, however, that salaries will vary depending on whether you’re licensed or certified, as well as the particular setting in which you work.


Marriage & Family Therapy Licensure in New Jersey

To work independently as a licensed marriage and family therapist, you must fulfill the requirements laid out by the DCA’s State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners.

Education requirements

To qualify for a license, you must hold at least a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, social work, or a closely related field from a regionally accredited university. Your coursework must include a minimum of:

  • 4 courses in clinical practice
  • 2 courses in theoretical foundations
  • 2 courses in individual development and family relationships
  • 1 course in professional identity and ethics
  • 1 course in research
  • 1 course in additional learning that supports an individual area of interest

Marriage and family therapy licensing requirements 

To meet the requirements for licensing, MFT applicants must complete 3 years of full-time counseling experience, with 2 years specifically in marriage and family therapy and 1 in general counseling. For this experience, you must be supervised by a licensed MFT with at least 5 full-time years of practice.

If you graduated with a master’s, your 2 years of marriage and family therapy must be completed after you’ve earned your degree. Your year of general counseling can occur either before or after. If you have a doctorate, only 1 year of marriage and family therapy needs to be completed post-degree.

Once you’ve successfully met all of the requirements for education and experience, you can sit for the national licensing exam administered by the Association of Marriage and Family Regulatory Boards.

License renewal

MFTs must renew their license once every 2 years. You’ll receive instructions from the Board on how to renew your license roughly 3 months before its expiration date. To renew, you’ll need to have completed 40 contact hours of continuing education in every 2-year period, with the exception of the initial renewal cycle. These 40 hours must include at least 5 in ethical and legal standards and 3 hours in social and cultural competence.

License reciprocity

If you’re an MFT from another state and would like to apply for a license in New Jersey, you must demonstrate to the Board that your licensing requirements meet or exceed those that qualify you to practice in the state.

Marriage and family therapist salaries and career advancement

In New Jersey, the average marriage and family therapy salary is listed as $74,130 per year, according to the BLS. In contrast, the average annual wage for MFTs across the country is $53,860.[

What’s more, you can expect a good amount of job security as the demand for MFTs is projected to increase by 23% through 2026.


Social Work Licensure in New Jersey

The DCA’s State Board of Social Work Examiners sets the standards for the certification and licensing of all social workers. There are 3 levels of credentials: certified social worker (CSW), licensed social worker (LSW), and licensed clinical social worker (LCSW).

CSW vs LSW vs LCSW: what’s the difference? 

The primary difference between New Jersey’s levels of social work is the types of responsibilities they’re legally allowed to have. Job duties include:

  • CSW: Providing social work services such as assessment, consultation, counseling, planning, community organization, and advocacy in nonclinical settings only, and supervising undergraduate social work students
  • LSW: Offering all of the same nonclinical services as a certified social worker, while also providing services in a clinical setting under the supervision of the LCSW and supervising undergrad or graduate students
  • LCSW: Providing independent clinical social work services, supervising undergrad and graduate students, and providing custody and parenting evaluations

Education requirements

Along with different responsibilities, each credential has its own requirements for university-level education:

  • CSW: At least a bachelor’s degree in social work from a program that’s accredited, or in the process of becoming accredited, by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • LSW: At least a master’s degree in social work from an accredited program
  • LCSW: At least a master’s degree in social work from an accredited program, with a minimum of 12 credits in the methods of clinical practice and another 12 in any of the following subjects:
    • Diagnosis and assessment in clinical social work practice
    • Models of psychotherapy or clinical practice
    • Clinical supervision and consultation
    • Intervention with special populations

Social work licensing requirements

There may or may not be additional experience or testing requirements depending on the level of credential you seek. Certified social workers aren’t required to complete any supervised work experience or pass any exam. You can apply for CSW certification as soon as you’ve earned your bachelor’s degree.

Licensed social workers aren’t required to complete any additional experience either, however, they do have to pass the master’s-level exam given by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).

Licensed clinical social workers have the most requirements to meet following graduation. If you’re pursuing this license, you’ll need to acquire at least 3,000 hours of supervised clinical social work experience over a period of 2–4 years. You’ll then be required to take and pass the Clinical-level exam administered by the ASWB.

License renewal

Social workers at all levels must renew their license every 2 years. Within this 2-year period, you must complete a certain number of continuing education credits depending on your certification or license:

  • CSW: 20 credits of continuing education, including 5 in ethics and 3 in social and cultural competence
  • LSW 30 credits of continuing education, including 5 in ethics and 3 in social and cultural competence
  • LCSW: 40 credits of continuing education, including a minimum of 20 in clinical practice, 5 in ethics, and 3 in social and cultural competence

License reciprocity

If you’re licensed in another state, you can apply for licensure in New Jersey, provided that you meet the state’s education and experience requirements and prove that you’ve passed any necessary exam. 

Social worker salary and career advancement

Depending on their exact role, social workers in New Jersey can earn a variety of different salaries:

  • Healthcare social workers: $64,190
  • Child, family, and school social workers: $66,610
  • Mental health and substance abuse social workers: $75,870

Your certification or license level, years of experience, and workplace setting will also affect the potential salary you could earn. Regardless of these factors, the demand for social workers is growing at a rate of 16% across the country, so you can expect to find plenty of job opportunities that fit your interests and skills.


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