Virginia Psychology, Social Work & Counseling Licensure Requirements

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Known to many as “the birthplace of a nation,” Virginia has a lot to offer to those who are interested in pursuing a degree in psychology. From the breathtaking Blue Ridge mountains to the wealth of opportunity for those holding a psychology degree in the state’s biggest city, Richmond, there are plenty of reasons why people decide to stay in Virginia and seek licensure after completing their education.

By taking a moment to learn about the requirements for licensure in psychology, social work or counseling in the state of Virginia, you may be able to improve your chances of obtaining a license and kickstarting a career. Read on for a step-by-step explanation of how to make the right choices for these fields.

Psychology Licensure in Virginia

For those who are interested in becoming a psychologist, obtaining a license to practice is a requirement in all 50 states. While requirements for licensure are similar across states, there can be differences in both how the process is carried out and which specific requirements need to be fulfilled.

Education requirements

To become a practicing psychologist in the state of Virginia, it’s required that you complete a doctoral degree at a regionally accredited institution. Ideally, clinical and counseling psychology programs should be accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA), although other programs which meet standards set by the Virginia Board of Medicine may qualify as fulfilling the necessary requirements. Students must complete 3 semester hours each in core psychological competencies—psychological measurement, research methodology, etc.—and clinical content areas such as human development and intellectual assessment.

Candidates who enroll in doctoral programs not accredited by the APA may be required to submit additional materials when applying for a Virginia psychology license, such as course catalogs or program brochures.

Psychology licensing requirements

Once the education requirements for becoming a psychologist have been met, it’s time to focus on the next steps needed in order to obtain licensure. First, you’ll need to complete an internship that has been accredited by the APA, Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC), or National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). As the wrong internship may not count toward licensure, it’s incredibly important to confirm accreditation before moving forward with any program.

Next, you’ll be required to complete a 1,500-hour supervised residency. In most cases, residency will take place at the post-doctoral level, requiring board approval—a pre-doctoral practicum may also be an option under special circumstances. To qualify, at least 1 hour for each 8 hours of client contact must be supervised, whether in group or individual settings.

Psychologists who are licensed in the state of Virginia are required to complete at least 14 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) courses approved by the board each year in order to be eligible for renewal.

License reciprocity

As of 2018, the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) has not added Virginia to its Agreement of Reciprocity, which currently encompasses Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas, as well as Canadian provinces Manitoba and Ontario. Those who are licensed as psychologists in Virginia, then, are not allowed to extend their licensure or practice in other states with just this license.

Psychologist salary and career advancement

Employment for psychologists is also expected to grow 8% through 2030, holding steady at the average rate of growth across all occupations. After gaining experience working in the field, many psychologists choose to advance their careers by opening private practices and participating in opportunities for furthering their education.

Clinical and Counseling Psychologists

National data

Median Salary: $82,510

Projected job growth: N/A

10th Percentile: $47,010

25th Percentile: $62,040

75th Percentile: $126,590

90th Percentile: $167,460

Projected job growth: N/A

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alaska $81,600 $59,480 $133,860
Alabama $62,520 $34,060 $167,250
Arkansas $62,540 $46,910 $128,070
Arizona $77,450 $30,000 $126,110
California $126,470 $61,770 $205,460
Colorado $81,940 $39,760 $133,850
Connecticut $104,940 $60,820 N/A
District of Columbia $79,430 $38,290 $205,920
Delaware $94,570 $74,870 N/A
Florida $70,320 $38,790 $166,460
Georgia $62,460 $29,600 $149,070
Hawaii $101,310 $62,310 N/A
Iowa $88,340 $32,320 $166,980
Idaho $62,410 $39,630 $130,030
Illinois $81,500 $39,760 N/A
Indiana $65,250 $39,470 $128,570
Kansas $75,410 $29,350 N/A
Kentucky $77,190 $35,820 $161,610
Louisiana $93,750 $49,520 $203,650
Massachusetts $80,840 $50,730 $135,650
Maryland $82,710 $47,850 $147,340
Maine $75,670 $57,010 $159,120
Michigan $66,180 $47,280 $128,390
Minnesota $98,050 $47,630 $127,160
Missouri $63,580 $39,280 $100,620
Mississippi $64,430 $31,140 $158,720
Montana $81,590 $50,510 $126,040
North Carolina $81,700 $39,640 $163,980
North Dakota $101,910 $47,350 $204,240
Nebraska $81,570 $47,270 $113,790
New Hampshire $94,570 $49,440 $130,720
New Jersey $119,670 $79,430 N/A
New Mexico $98,030 $52,400 N/A
Nevada $94,480 $19,440 $164,110
New York $104,070 $48,800 N/A
Ohio $98,030 $39,620 N/A
Oklahoma $59,710 $31,240 $98,030
Oregon $119,180 $60,820 $205,440
Pennsylvania $69,930 $38,150 $111,110
Rhode Island $98,680 $74,870 $170,890
South Carolina $78,930 $34,860 $129,780
South Dakota $94,050 $52,840 $126,750
Tennessee $98,030 $47,150 N/A
Texas $78,000 $39,510 $126,870
Utah $79,510 $48,390 $133,850
Virginia $83,080 $50,810 $205,920
Vermont $62,260 $30,450 $104,580
Washington $97,140 $59,490 $131,640
Wisconsin $78,810 $48,640 $129,380
West Virginia $50,350 $35,250 $101,780
Wyoming $62,070 $23,680 $129,710

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2030. 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.

While certain jobs in the field of psychology can be obtained with just a master’s degree, a doctorate is essential for those interested in going into private practice.


Therapy and Counseling Licensure in Virginia

Therapists and counselors assist clients of all ages in overcoming life challenges and identifying strategies for coping with difficult situations. In order to practice as a mental health counselor or family therapist in the state of Virginia, candidates must focus on becoming a licensed professional counselor (LPC). Becoming an LPC in Virginia involves not only meeting education and exam requirements, but also completing a post-master’s residency program.

Education requirements

While many practicing counselors and family therapists choose to further their education past the master’s level, a master’s degree in an accredited program is typically the highest required level for obtaining licensure in Virginia. Graduate studies should focus on areas such as educational and psychological foundations, problem-solving methodology, research methodology, and other, similar courses.

Certain additional courses may be required for those interested in becoming a licensed professional counselor in Virginia and entering into niche positions, such as school counselors, marriage therapists, and substance abuse counselors.

Therapy and counseling licensing requirements

To become licensed as a professional counselor in the state of Virginia, one must first obtain a degree at the master’s level. Following degree completion, Virginia LPC requirements state that a 3,400-hour supervised clinical residency must be done. Finally, candidates seeking licensure must take the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination.

License reciprocity

As with psychology licensure, Virginia does not offer license reciprocity for therapists or counselors interested in practicing across state lines.

Therapist and counselor salaries and career advancement

Professional counselors and therapists have a number of career options available depending upon their interests and skill sets. One person might choose to pursue a career in marriage and family therapy, for example, while others may prefer to provide clinical care as substance abuse or mental health counselors.

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors

National data

Median Salary: $60,510

Projected job growth: 11.5%

10th Percentile: $37,550

25th Percentile: $47,390

75th Percentile: $77,210

90th Percentile: $98,190

Projected job growth: 11.5%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alaska $61,510 $39,000 $98,480
Alabama $59,260 $37,340 $76,300
Arkansas $49,890 $37,200 $77,430
Arizona $49,430 $38,350 $77,250
California $76,310 $47,730 $125,590
Colorado $60,510 $38,700 $78,920
Connecticut $61,730 $37,220 $99,310
District of Columbia $63,340 $38,700 $97,760
Delaware $71,980 $39,000 $97,530
Florida $49,290 $36,310 $80,420
Georgia $60,250 $36,910 $96,270
Hawaii $62,250 $48,520 $97,040
Iowa $49,290 $36,750 $77,450
Idaho $48,560 $37,340 $76,490
Illinois $49,510 $37,250 $81,610
Indiana $49,340 $36,740 $76,740
Kansas $49,590 $38,590 $80,390
Kentucky $60,040 $36,750 $77,920
Louisiana $60,510 $47,310 $76,490
Massachusetts $74,780 $47,550 $103,570
Maryland $64,280 $46,910 $102,230
Maine $50,250 $38,430 $78,360
Michigan $49,300 $36,910 $80,390
Minnesota $58,160 $39,380 $80,420
Missouri $47,500 $36,150 $76,480
Mississippi $49,590 $30,460 $74,840
Montana $47,760 $30,690 $77,510
North Carolina $49,560 $36,600 $64,240
North Dakota $60,760 $37,820 $77,250
Nebraska $61,190 $39,030 $81,610
New Hampshire $48,680 $36,340 $76,950
New Jersey $76,630 $48,820 $100,920
New Mexico $60,510 $38,430 $84,390
Nevada $63,100 $46,470 $81,510
New York $61,660 $38,430 $123,990
Ohio $61,140 $36,920 $98,250
Oklahoma $49,300 $29,390 $77,510
Oregon $61,330 $38,660 $101,540
Pennsylvania $61,860 $42,260 $98,880
Rhode Island $61,280 $38,700 $98,480
South Carolina $49,130 $33,430 $79,110
South Dakota $47,760 $36,660 $61,730
Tennessee $49,980 $30,810 $77,920
Texas $61,100 $37,340 $78,360
Utah $48,520 $31,200 $78,030
Virginia $62,540 $40,740 $103,570
Vermont $59,360 $38,860 $78,850
Washington $75,780 $48,820 $103,570
Wisconsin $49,980 $38,520 $77,680
West Virginia $49,360 $30,320 $63,480
Wyoming $60,790 $38,860 $77,920

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2030. 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.

One of the benefits of becoming a therapist or counselor in Virginia is the ability to move across disciplines throughout a career. Many school counselors, for example, have transitioned into family therapy over time, and vice versa.


Social Work Licensure in Virginia

Another avenue for those interested in starting a career in the field of psychology to consider is social work. There are a few different ways to get a social work license in Virginia , and depending upon your long-term career goals, one may be a better fit than another. By understanding more about the types of career paths open to social workers in Virginia, you can better determine which degree program is right for you.

LSWA, LSW, LCSW, and LICSW: what’s the difference?

There are a number of common acronyms discussed within the world of social work, some of which can be confusing to those who are not well-versed in industry terminology. LSWA (Licensed Social Work Associate), LSW (Licensed Social Worker), LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) and LICSW (Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker) are the 4 most prominent titles in social work.

The major difference between titles comes down to whether a social worker performs clinical or non-clinical work. LSW, LCSW, and LICSW are all titles falling under the umbrella of clinical social work, for example, while work as a LSWA tends to be entry-level and non-clinical in nature. In fact, LSWA professionals must be supervised by a LSW, LCSW, or LICSW in order to work and maintain certification.

Education requirements

Two distinct paths exist for those seeking a Virginia social work license—a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) or Master of Social Work (MSW). Both degrees involve practicums with a focus on hands-on experience, as well as course loads covering topics such as human growth and development, sociological constructs, and behavioral issues, among others.

While those who earn a BSW will typically work in an entry-level social worker position under the supervision of a licensed social worker, MSW graduates may have additional opportunities that can result in higher salaries and a deeper connection to their field.

Social work licensing requirements

Requirements to become a licensed social worker in Virginia can vary depending upon the type of degree obtained and preferred type of license. To become an LSW, candidates must complete the proper education requirements at a CSWE-accredited school, apply to the state of Virginia Board for supervision, and complete no less than 3,000 hours of supervised experience (including at least 100 hours of face-to-face supervision). Supervision must be completed within 2 to 4 years.

In addition to these requirements, LSW and LCSW candidates must take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) master’s exam, a 4-hour test consisting of 170 questions.

License reciprocity

There is no license reciprocity for social workers in the state of Virginia. However, the board does allow licensure by endorsement. In this scenario, LSWs and LCSWs can use their exam scores and certain forms of experience gained in other states to obtain a social work license in Virginia. Candidates must have an active social work license within another state to qualify for endorsement.

Social worker salary and career advancement

Social workers also have the benefit of being able to work within a wide range of different settings and environments, such as mental health clinics, schools, hospitals, and more. This allows those who are early on in their careers to gain diverse and valuable experience to further support their advancement in the field.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers

National data

Median Salary: $49,130

Projected job growth: 14.9%

10th Percentile: $31,010

25th Percentile: $38,630

75th Percentile: $69,260

90th Percentile: $97,300

Projected job growth: 14.9%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alaska $48,820 $37,220 $77,420
Alabama $36,600 $22,940 $51,270
Arkansas $37,430 $29,180 $60,300
Arizona $38,590 $36,110 $61,140
California $77,640 $39,000 $123,210
Colorado $48,330 $35,610 $77,430
Connecticut $65,230 $36,860 $103,600
District of Columbia $61,660 $48,820 $103,600
Delaware $46,910 $36,780 $62,670
Florida $38,850 $29,010 $62,670
Georgia $39,010 $29,390 $78,280
Hawaii $63,700 $48,560 $81,230
Iowa $48,560 $37,060 $79,230
Idaho $40,050 $18,550 $76,730
Illinois $46,640 $30,600 $98,370
Indiana $47,280 $31,600 $74,320
Kansas $46,910 $30,690 $62,870
Kentucky $38,530 $28,840 $63,560
Louisiana $46,520 $25,270 $62,950
Massachusetts $48,960 $31,010 $81,240
Maryland $48,090 $35,550 $77,150
Maine $59,390 $39,040 $79,800
Michigan $49,340 $37,060 $76,180
Minnesota $59,990 $38,680 $84,240
Missouri $44,200 $25,820 $59,940
Mississippi $39,140 $29,170 $62,720
Montana $38,180 $31,010 $49,790
North Carolina $49,590 $45,160 $63,460
North Dakota $52,620 $35,790 $70,390
Nebraska $34,040 $23,770 $49,340
New Hampshire $61,480 $38,700 $77,920
New Jersey $80,540 $60,710 $166,740
New Mexico $54,000 $23,890 $74,670
Nevada $59,910 $38,520 $78,950
New York $75,230 $46,910 $114,690
Ohio $46,910 $30,460 $63,360
Oklahoma $38,110 $22,520 $62,870
Oregon $49,220 $30,730 $78,450
Pennsylvania $39,380 $29,770 $62,870
Rhode Island $76,410 $47,700 $80,540
South Carolina $41,500 $35,570 $51,320
South Dakota $41,270 $30,640 $60,620
Tennessee $38,830 $23,300 $58,320
Texas $42,230 $29,350 $72,360
Utah $46,720 $29,240 $64,300
Virginia $48,350 $35,190 $77,440
Vermont $47,750 $36,780 $79,490
Washington $61,210 $33,790 $78,450
Wisconsin $48,610 $36,380 $76,620
West Virginia $38,430 $30,600 $49,170
Wyoming $49,600 $30,730 $95,960

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2030. 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.

Professional Organizations

There are two professional organizations social workers in Virginia can join:

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW)–Virginia Chapter provides timely information on conferences, policy changes, and local chapters within the state. They also have continuing education information and networking opportunities for members.

The Virginia Society for Clinical Social Work–supports the professional education standards for clinical social work practice. This organization provides advocacy, professional development opportunities, continuing education information, and networking for its members.