It takes more than a degree and a caring disposition to succeed as a mental health provider. If you want to work as a psychology, social work, or counseling professional in the state of New York, you’ll need licensure to use your education and experience to help others.
Want to learn how to earn this professional license? Keep reading to explore New York’s requirements for psychologists, social workers, and counselors, and begin on the path toward a rewarding career.
Psychology Licensure in New York
Before earning a New York psychology license, you’ll have to complete general psychologist requirements. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) Office of the Professions (OP) administers the psychology license program.
A NYS psychology license allows you to work without supervision as a general or specialized psychologist in clinical or research psychology. Clinical psychologists treat and diagnose clients; other psychologists work in research and education.
The primary education requirement for a New York psychologist license is a doctorate in psychology. You must complete either a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in a license-qualifying program registered by the NYSED OP or a substantial equivalent. Eligible programs are listed in the Inventory of Registered Programs by the Office of Higher Education.
Registered doctoral degree programs or substantial equivalents include:
- At least 3 years of full-time study or the part-time equivalent, including 1 year of supervised practicum, internship, or applied research
- 2 hours of child abuse training
- Regional accreditation by an accrediting body approved by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) or the New York State Board of Regents
Psychology licensing requirements
In addition to earning your doctorate, you must be 21 years old and of good moral character at the time of your psychology license application. You’ll qualify after completing experience requirements, submitting an application, paying all fees, and passing the examination.
To apply for a New York psychology license, you must complete 2 years of full-time supervised experience, at a minimum of 1,750 hours per year or the part-time equivalent. One of the 2 years must occur after you finish all doctoral degree requirements, including your dissertation.
You’ll also have to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) to qualify for a NYS psychology license. This computerized exam by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) is administered by Pearson VUE.
You can qualify to take the EPPP after you:
- Receive a doctoral degree in psychology
- Complete at least 1 year, or 1,750 hours, of an NYSED-approved experience
- Apply for licensure
- Receive a notice of eligibility to take the EPPP
Your New York psychology license is valid for life. You’ll have to pay a fee for license renewal every 3 years, but NYS licensed psychologists don’t have a continuing education requirement.
There’s no license reciprocity for New York psychology licenses. If you earned your psychology license in another jurisdiction, you’ll have to file a complete licensure application for New York licensure.
You may be eligible for a 12-month limited permit if the state approves your documentation. This permit lets you practice as a psychologist while you wait to take the state exam.
Psychologist salary and career advancement
Nationally, the number of jobs for psychologists is expected to increase by 9.9% through 2031, a rate that’s on par with that of the projected increase for all occupations.
Median Hourly Wage$50
|Metro area||Median Salary||Bottom 10%||Top 10%|
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||$110,410||$62,540||N/A|
|Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY||$102,990||$61,310||$162,100|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022 median salary; projected job growth through 2031. 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.
Therapy & Counseling Licensure in New York
Therapy and counseling licensure in New York is administered by the NYSED OP. Licenses are awarded to mental health practitioners categorized as creative arts therapists, marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors, and psychoanalysts.
Education requirements for all NYS therapy and counseling licenses must be met from a program registered by the NYSED or a substantial equivalent. You can check with the New York Office of Higher Education for registered programs in each specialty.
All NYS mental health practitioners must complete at least 2 hours of child abuse coursework or training. Other requirements vary by license title.
Creative arts therapists
To use the arts in diagnosis and treatment, you’ll need a master’s degree or higher degree in creative arts therapy from a program that’s accredited by the American Art Therapy Association or another acceptable agency. Your program must include at least 48 semester credits and a supervised practicum of 500 hours.
Marriage and family therapists
To specialize in relationship issues, you’ll need to hold a master’s or doctoral degree from a registered marriage and family therapy program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Marriage and Family Education (COAMFTE). Your program must include 60 semester credits and a practicum of at least 300 client contact hours.
A master’s degree or higher in an allied mental health field with additional graduate coursework may also qualify.
Mental health counselors
Licensed mental health counselors need a master’s degree or higher in counseling from a registered program accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Counseling Related Education Programs (CACREP). Programs must include 60 semester credits along with 600 hours of a supervised mental health counseling practicum.
Psychoanalyst licensure requires a master’s degree or higher from a registered psychoanalysis program accredited by the American Board for Accreditation in Psychoanalysis (ABAP). Programs require 1,350 hours of study, with at least 300 hours of supervised clinical psychoanalysis experience.
Therapy and counseling licensing requirements
Therapy and counseling licensing requirements require that you’re at least 21 years old and of good moral character when you apply. You’ll be eligible to receive your license after you complete education and experience requirements, submit an application, pay all related fees, and pass the appropriate examination.
You must submit an application to receive NYSED OP approval to take the exam corresponding to your licensure.
Creative arts therapists
Experience: Post-degree, you’ll need 1,500 supervised contact hours, with at least 1,000 hours of direct patient contact, in creative arts therapy.
Examination: Upon approval, you must pass 1 of the following:
- A certification exam given by the Art Therapy Credentials Board
- A certification exam given by the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT)
- The New York State Case Narrative Examination given by CASTLE Worldwide, Inc.
Marriage and family therapists
Experience: You’ll need at least 1,500 supervised direct client contact hours in marriage and family therapy. Hours accrued during your education and post-degree are eligible.
Examination: You must pass the Examination in Marital and Family Therapy, written by the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) and given by the Professional Testing Corporation (PTC).
Mental health counselors
Experience: You’ll be required to complete supervised experience that includes 3,000 hours of mental health counseling post-degree, with at least 1,500 hours of direct client contact.
Examination: You must take the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE), administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).
Experience: You’ll need 1,500 contact hours of supervised experience in psychoanalysis, with at least 750 clock hours in direct client contact.
Examination: You must pass the New York State Case Narrative Examination.
If you’re a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist (LCAT), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), or Licensed Psychoanalyst (LP), you must complete 36 hours of approved continuing education courses for every 3-year registration period. Up to a third of your total hours can be self-study activities from NYSED-approved providers.
New York State doesn’t have blanket reciprocity for out-of-state licensed counselors, but there are considerations. You may qualify for licensure by endorsement if you completed 5 years of licensed practice in the 10 years prior to your application and meet NYSED license requirements.
Without meeting the experience requirement, you must apply for initial licensure. You may qualify for a 2-year limited permit to practice under supervision while fulfilling experience or exam requirements.
Therapist and counselor salaries and career advancement
Salaries for licensed counselors and therapists vary due to experience, location, employer, and specific field. Data from the 2022 BLS indicates the following median annual salaries in New York state.
- Marriage and family therapists–$56,570
- Substance abuse, behavioral disorder & mental health counselors—$49,710
- Educational, guidance, and vocational counselors—$60,140
Job opportunities for MFTs are expected to increase by 13.9% through 2031.
Social Work Licensure in New York
You can earn your NYS social work license as a licensed master social worker (LMSW) or a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). The NYSED OP administers all social work licenses.
LCSW vs. LMSW
Trying to decide between an LCSW vs. LMSW? Here’s what you need to know:
LCSWs are social workers with a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree and supervised experience. LCSWs are authorized to practice without supervision and can operate their own private practices. In other states, they may be called a licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW).
LMSWs are social workers who’ve completed an MSW and passed a state exam. LMSWs don’t have clinical experience, therefore, they require supervision by an LCSW. An LMSW might be called a licensed social worker (LSW) or associate social worker (ASW) in other jurisdictions.
The primary requirement for all NYS social work licenses is an MSW from a program registered by the state’s department of education. You can check the Inventory of Registered Programs to make sure your program qualifies.
All applicants for social work licensure must complete 2 hours of child abuse coursework or training. Additional education requirements vary based on title.
To qualify for NYS LCSW licensure, you’ll need an MSW from an approved program, including 2 years of full-time study. Your program must include at least 60 total semester credits, with at least 12 semester hours of clinical coursework and 900 clock hours in a field social work practicum.
Gaining licensure as an LMSW in New York requires a master’s or higher from a NYSED-registered social work program. At least 60 semester credits of graduate study and a 900-hour field practicum are also required.
Social work licensing requirements
In addition to having a graduate degree, all applicants for a social work license must be at least 21 years old and of good moral character. Additional requirements include submission of an application, license fees, and completion of the necessary experience. After submitting your application, you must wait to receive approval to take the appropriate social work licensure examination.
Experience: You must complete 3 years of postgraduate, full-time supervised experience in diagnosis, psychotherapy, and assessment-based treatment planning.
Examination: You must pass the Clinical examination administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) or an approved comparable examination.
Experience: There’s no requirement for postgraduate experience.
Examination: You must pass the Masters exam administered by the ASWB or a comparable NYSED-approved test.
To renew your New York social work license, you need to complete 36 hours of approved continuing education during each 3-year licensing period. No more than 12 hours of self-study activities from NYSED-approved providers can be used.
If you earned a social work license in another jurisdiction, you may qualify for NYS licensure under certain circumstances.
You may be eligible for an LCSW endorsement if you were an LCSW in another jurisdiction and practiced for at least 10 years in the 15 years prior to your NYS application. In addition, your initial license must have been based on requirements similar to those in New York.
If you don’t have the right experience, you must apply for initial LCSW licensure. You may receive a non-renewable, 1-year limited permit, allowing you to work under the supervision of an LCSW, if you’re only missing the licensure exam.
You may qualify for NYS LMSW licensure if you meet all of the state social worker requirements. If you meet all qualifications with the exception of the exam, you can apply for a 1-year, nonrenewable limited permit to work under supervision while waiting to take the test.
Social worker salary and career advancement
Social worker salaries vary depending on your specialty, location, and employer. The BLS reports the following median annual salaries for social workers in New York:
- Child, family, and school social workers—$50,820
- Mental health and substance abuse social workers—$51,240
- Healthcare social workers—$60,280
- Social workers (all other)—$61,420
Jobs in social work of all kinds are expected to grow by 9% through 2031, according to the BLS. This number is even larger for healthcare, mental health, and substance abuse social workers specifically.