Texas Psychology, Social Work & Counseling Licensure Requirements

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Texas is home to more than 28 million residents, making it the second-largest state in the country. This large population is served by the nation’s third-highest number of community and social service workers, with 116,000 people employed in the field. In addition, more than 6,000 people are employed as psychologists in the state. With its numerous big cities, small towns, multiple universities, and large number of jobs, Texas is a great place to start a career in psychology, counseling, or social work.

There are multiple requirements you’ll need to meet before you can practice in these roles in Texas, and these all lead up to earning a license. Read on to learn all about what you can expect as you pursue your license in these growing fields.

Psychology Licensure in Texas

To legally practice psychology in Texas, you’ll need to earn a license administered by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. You’ll have to meet the board’s exact requirements for education, testing, and experience.

Education requirements

The first step on your path to licensure is to earn a bachelor’s degree. Most students choose to earn their bachelor’s in psychology, but related fields like social work or human services can also be a strong foundation. Both Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees are acceptable for admission into graduate and doctoral programs.

You can then choose to pursue a separate master’s degree or a doctoral degree that includes master’s-level coursework. If you choose to pursue a separate master’s degree, it can either be a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) in psychology. You’ll most likely need to take the GRE and have a solid GPA from your undergraduate program—usually at least a 3.0, though many programs require higher—to gain admission to an advanced degree program.

Your doctorate program will typically either be a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Psychology (PsyD), though there are a few other less common options you can choose to pursue.

While either degree will allow you to practice psychology in Texas, keep in mind that a PsyD degree is more focused on treating patients directly, while a PhD emphasizes research and teaching.

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 Texas, you’ll also be required to complete a formal internship within your program of at least 1,750 hours. If you’re looking to work in school psychology specifically, you need to complete an internship of 1,200 hours, 600 of which must be in a public school.

It’s important to note that all programs and internships must be accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Psychology licensing requirements

Once you complete your education and postdoc experience, there are a few more steps you need to take to earn your license in Texas.

Take your exams

Texas requires aspiring psychologists take 2 exams. Once you apply for your license, the first exam you need to take is the 50-question Texas Jurisprudence Exam. You’re required to pass with a score of 75 or higher within 3 attempts. If you pass the exam, you’re then able 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 you need to earn a score of at least 500 out of 800 in order to pass.

School psychologists do not take the EPPP, but instead take the Praxis School Psychology Exam. They do, however, still need to take the Texas Jurisprudence test.

Complete an application to be provisionally licensed

If you’ve completed your doctoral degree and passed your exams, you can apply for a provisional license, which allows you to work under the supervision of a fully-licensed psychologist while you complete the requirements for your own full license.

Gain full licensure

Post-graduation, you’re required to complete 2 years of supervised experience to earn your full psychology license in Texas. These 2 years must amount to 1,750 hours and are in addition to the 1,750 internship hours required by your doctoral program.

Your application for licensure will ask for verification from your supervisor of hours worked. Texas makes use of the ASPPB’s Psychology Licensure Universal System (PLUS). Through PLUS, you can submit your application, pay your fee, and check on the status of your application at any time.

Maintaining your license

Texas requires that psychologists apply for license renewal every year. In order to renew, you’ll need to complete 20 continuing education credits in psychology, with at least 10 of them obtained from a board-approved provider. At least 3 of these hours must be in the area of ethics, Board Rules of Conduct, or professional responsibility, and another 3 must be in cultural diversity.

License reciprocity

You can apply for license reciprocity in Texas if you’re currently licensed in another state. You’ll be asked to take the following steps before reciprocity is granted:

  • Prove you have an active license in good standing
  • Prove that your training included supervised hours
  • Complete an application

You should note that you might need to apply for a provisional license if you haven’t completed at least 3,500 supervised hours.

Psychologist salary and career advancement

Across the country, job opportunities for psychologists are expected to increase by 9% through 2032. Psychologists can advance their careers by specializing, teaching, or going into private practice.

Clinical and Counseling Psychologists
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Median Hourly Wage$39

Job growth11.4%

Total Employment3,280

Metro area Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Austin-Round Rock, TX $94,410 $41,810 $170,620
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX $85,460 $31,000 $141,760
Killeen-Temple, TX $85,040 $37,040 $233,830
Waco, TX $82,900 $30,360 $129,730
El Paso, TX $78,450 $41,310 $121,080
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX $77,810 $29,870 $139,390
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX $73,560 $38,190 $134,370
Tyler, TX $67,050 $32,340 $116,120
Lubbock, TX $66,520 $35,790 $101,350
College Station-Bryan, TX $66,140 $37,070 $122,220

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.

Therapy & Counseling Licensure in Texas

The Texas Health and Human Services department oversee licenses for marriage and family therapists and professional counselors. The requirements for each license are similar but do have different exams and degree programs.

Education requirements

The first step to earning a license is completing a bachelor’s degree. Students pursuing therapy or counseling often earn degrees in psychology, human services, sociology, education, or human development.

You’ll need to earn a master’s degree before you can practice in Texas. The specific master’s program you choose will depend on the type of therapy or counseling you want to practice.

Licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT)

To work as an LMFT, you’ll need to earn a master’s in marriage and family counseling or a related field with a planned course of study in marriage and family therapy. Your program should be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). If it doesn’t meet this requirement, a program accredited by the Council for Higher Accreditation (CHEA) can be accepted, provided it includes a practicum of at least 9 credit hours or 12 months.

Professional counseling

You’ll need a master’s degree in counseling or a counseling-related field from an accredited university to gain professional licensure. Counseling-related fields include:

  • Human development
  • Psychotherapy
  • Psychology
  • Psychiatry
  • Social work
  • Marriage and family therapy
  • Guidance and counseling

Your program must include a counseling practicum of at least 300 hours with at least 100 hours in direct client contact. Coursework must also be completed in the following areas:

  • Normal human growth and development
  • Abnormal human behavior
  • Appraisal or assessment techniques
  • Counseling theories
  • Counseling methods or techniques (individual and group)
  • Research
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Social, cultural, and family issues
  • Professional orientation

Therapy and counseling licensing requirements

You can apply for licensure after completing your education. You’ll need to take a few more steps, including testing and supervised practice before you’re eligible to gain full licensure.

Marriage and family therapy requirements

Texas requires that all aspiring LMFTs take the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) licensure examination and the Texas Jurisprudence Exam. Once you pass these, you can apply for an associate LMFT license. Using this license, you can practice under the supervision of a fully licensed marriage and family therapist. The license is valid for a minimum of 2 years and can be renewed for up 6 years. You’ll need to renew your license on a yearly basis and renewal requires completion of 15 continuing education hours per year.

While you have your associate license, you’ll need to complete 3,000 supervised work hours to earn a full license, with at least 1,500 hours in direct clinical services and at 750 hours with couples and families. These hours are in addition to the supervised experience required by your master’s program. You’ll also need to complete 200 hours of supervision. Up to 100 of these hours can be credited from supervision gained during your master’s practicum.

A supervision experience verification form must be submitted to the board once the experience is complete. You’ll then be eligible for full licensure as an LMFT. Your license will need to be renewed every 2 years by completing 30 continuing education hours every 2-year period.

Professional counseling requirements

After graduation and before your license application, you’ll need to take and pass the National Counselor Exam and the Texas Jurisprudence Exam. With your master’s degree and passing scores, you’re eligible to receive a temporary Licensed Professional Counseling (LPC) license. With this license, you can begin the required postgraduate experience. This involves the completion of 3,000 supervised hours with at least half of those hours being in direct client contact. These hours cannot be completed in less than 18 months.

You can apply for full licensure after completion of your supervised hours. Your license will need to be renewed every 2 years, and you’ll need to complete 24 hours of continuing education in each 2-year cycle, with 4 of those hours being in ethics. You’ll also need to retake the Texas Jurisprudence Exam, which counts as 1 hour toward the 24.

License reciprocity

You can apply for reciprocity in Texas if you’re an LMFT or LPC in another state. This is known in the state as licensure by endorsement. To gain this type of license, you’ll need to take the following steps:

  • Complete an application and pay the fee
  • Provide proof of your education
  • Provide proof of your supervised hours
  • Provide proof your license is in good standing
  • Submit documentation of any disciplinary action taking against your license
  • Complete the Texas Jurisprudence Exam

Therapist and counselor salaries and career advancement

The BLS provides the following average annual salaries for several therapy and counseling professions in Texas :

  • Marriage and family therapists: $56,570
  • Rehabilitation counselors: $39,990
  • Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors: $49,710
  • Educational, guidance, and vocational counselors: $60,140

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 Texas

The Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners provides licenses for social workers. The state offers 3 different social work licenses. At each license level, there are different educational, testing, and experience requirements.

LBSW, LMSW, and LCSW: what’s the difference?

Social workers throughout the country are referred to by different titles. This might seem confusing, but generally, the titles refer to your education level and years of completed experience. Most states license at the bachelor’s level, the master’s level, and for experience beyond a master’s degree. Texas also follows this format.

Licensed baccalaureate social worker (LBSW)

An LBSW is an entry-level social worker who has completed a bachelor’s in social work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). After completion of your degree, you’ll need to complete the following steps:

At the LBSW level, you’ll be able to practice under the supervision of a licensed master social worker. You might take on jobs such as a case aid or social services assistant.

Licensed master social worker (LMSW)

LMSW licensure is awarded to social workers who have earned a master’s in social work from a university accredited by the CSWE. Upon graduation, take these steps to be granted your license:

  • Take and pass the Texas Jurisprudence Exam
  • Submit an application and fee to the board
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Take the ASWB master-level exam
  • Submit a form detailing all social work employment and experience

You can submit an application for upgrade to the board if you’ve previously earned LBSW licensure. You’ll still need to take the required exams, submit proof of your education, and detail any social work experience you have.

You also have the chance to become an advanced practice LMSW. The LMSW-AP license allows you to practice any social work that is not clinical in the state. Gaining your LMSW-AP license requires 24 months non-clinical social work experience as an LMSW, with at least 100 full-time, supervised hours. You’ll submit verification of your hours to the state and take the ASWB advanced generalist exam.

Licensed clinical social worker (LCSW)

An LCSW is able to practice social work in a clinical setting or have an independent practice. The LCSW is an upgrade to the LMSW license, so you must gain that license first following the steps above. Before you can upgrade your license, you’ll need to gain a minimum of 24 months of clinical social work experience. This must include a minimum of 100 full-time supervised work hours in clinical practice such as providing assessments, making diagnoses, and creating treatment plans.

Your supervisor will need to verify your experience to the board before you can apply for an LCSW license. In addition to your application and proof of experience, you’ll need to:

  • Take and pass the Texas Jurisprudence Exam
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Take the ASWB exam at the advanced or clinical level

Independent practice recognition (IPR)

IPR designation is for social workers who wish to open an independent practice of non-clinical social work only. Both LBSWs and LMSWs are eligible to earn IPR recognition. You’ll need to submit a supervision plan to the board and be supervised by a board-approved supervisor. This plan will outline the 24 months of non-clinical, full-time supervised experience you’ll complete, with 100 hours under direct supervision. You can apply for IPR designation after you complete your hours.

Social work license renewal

You need to renew your Texas social work license every 2 years, during or before your birth month.  You’ll need to complete 30 hours of continuing education during this period and keep the state informed of anything that may impact your license, such as conviction of a crime.

License reciprocity

There are no official social worker reciprocity rules in Texas. If you’re licensed in another state and have passed the ASWB exam required for your level, you may be able to apply for Texas licensure without retaking the exam. You’ll be required to meet all the standard criteria for the most appropriate license category, including taking the Jurisprudence Exam and passing a background check.

Social worker salary and career advancement

The 2022 BLS reports the following annual salaries for various social work occupations in Texas:

  • Social and human services assistants: $38,520
  • Community and human service managers: $74,240
  • Mental health and substance abuse social workers: $49,710
  • Child, family, and school social workers: $50,820
  • Healthcare social workers: $60,280

Social workers wishing to advance their career can earn additional licensure with more education and experience. Upgrading your licensure might increase your earning potential.