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Wisconsin State Licensing Requirements

greetings from wisconsin

Wisconsin is a great place for many of us. You’ll get different reasons for loving our state depending on who you ask. Some really love the feeling of helping others, and one way to do that is to become a social worker, therapist, counselor or psychologist. But what degree will you need to pursue to get into these rewarding careers, and what are the steps to get licensed to practice in the helping professions?

If you would like to get the training and skills to help people cope with life issues such as ADHD, eating disorders, and anxiety, overcome mental-health problems, and generally improve the quality of their lives, keep reading to learn about going to psychology school in Wisconsin.

Getting Licensed to Practice in Wisconsin

Licensing is an important step before you can become a legally practicing social worker, psychologist, therapist or counselor.
Once you’ve earned your degree, you’ll normally need to pass a state and/or national exam and meet other licensing requirements in your particular field of study. Here are some of the requirements to practice in the following fields, according to the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS). Make sure to consult the WI DSPS for full, up-to-date requirements.


  • Doctoral degree in psychology or related field
  • Passing score on the Examination for the Professional Practice in Psychology
  • Take the state written exam on the elements of practice essential to public health, safety or welfare
  • “Supervised psychological experience” by a psychologist who has first-hand knowledge of the applicant’s relevant experience

Clinical psychologist salary in Wisconsin

Clinical and Counseling Psychologists
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Median Hourly Wage$38

Job growth9.9%

Total Employment1,800

Metro area Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Racine, WI $87,480 $61,860 $166,550
Fond du Lac, WI $87,340 $47,630 $119,180
Oshkosh-Neenah, WI $81,700 $61,480 $159,970
Madison, WI $79,430 $48,200 $129,870
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI $79,240 $48,680 $129,980
La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN $78,080 $47,450 $149,070
Appleton, WI $77,500 $47,680 $112,260
Janesville-Beloit, WI $77,030 $47,030 $118,510
Eau Claire, WI $76,660 $46,190 $130,200
Green Bay, WI $74,490 $47,020 $124,520

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 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.

Mental Health Counselor

  • Master’s or doctorate in professional counseling or related field
  • Passing score on the NCE, NCMHCE or CRCE exam
  • Completion of supervised post-graduate practice under a professional counselor
  • Master’s level – 3,000 hours of post-degree supervised professional counseling practice including at least 1,000 hours of face-to-face client contact in not less than 2 years
  • Doctoral level – 1,000 hours of post degree supervised professional counseling practice

Marriage and Family Therapist

  • Master’s or doctorate in marriage and family therapy or equivalent behavioral science degree
  • Passing score on the Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards Exam
  • Post-graduate supervised practice: at least 3,000 hours of post-grad supervised experience, including at least 1,000 hours of face-to-face client contact over a period of not less than 24 months

Social Worker

  • There are four levels of social work licensure in Wisconsin: training certificate, advanced practice, independent and licensed clinical. To become a licensed clinical social worker, you’ll need the following requirements:
  • Master’s or doctoral degree in social work
  • At least 3,000 hours of experience, including at least 1,000 hours of face-to-face client contact and DSM diagnosis and treatment of individuals
  • Passing score on the American Association of Social Work Boards exam

Making the Most of Your Degree

As you enroll in a program to earn a psychology degree, you should start thinking about what professional associations accept students. Membership in organizations such as the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers offers great benefits:

  • Access to job databases and community resources
  • Forums for interacting with peers and experts in your field
  • Consultation with advocates in your profession regarding legal and ethical issues
  • Information about legislation that affects your work, and what you can do in response to new laws

So which career is right for you: counselor, therapist, social worker or psychologist? Make sure to get off on the right foot, and research your degree options and licensure requirements early so that you’ll be efficient in your studies and can get into the right helping profession for you.
Source: www.dsps.wi.gov/LicensesPermitsRegistrations/Credentialing-Division-Home-Page/Health-Professions