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Career Designations for Counseling Professionals

Counseling professionals work with people in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals and private practices. Counselors have different career designations based on their education level and the type of services they provide. Once completing these programs successfully, list the designation on your resume and LinkedIn profile for hiring managers and recruiters to notice your level of expertise.

To help you decide which designation is right for you, we’ve outlined some key differences between each type: 

National Certified Counselor (NCC)

National Certified Counselors (NCC) are counselors who have completed an extensive amount of education and training, meeting the requirements for membership with NBCC. The organization encourages professionals to continue their education and receive additional credentials by offering continuing education classes. If you want to become an NCC, you must be licensed or certified in your state as a professional counselor or therapist before applying for membership with the NBCC.

The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) is a non-profit organization that offers the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential. They offer two different types of certifications: Professional Level and Advanced Practice Level. In order to qualify for these designations, candidates must first meet certain criteria through academic achievement, work history and volunteer experience before taking a written exam offered by NBCC every year during April or May at more than 250 testing centers across North America which include South America as well as Europe.

Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC)

If you are interested in becoming a counselor who specializes in mental health, a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC) credential is likely for you. The National Board for Certified Counselors offers this advanced level of counseling certification to therapists who have at least two years experience and meet other requirements set by the NBCC. To qualify for this designation, applicants must pass an exam that tests their knowledge of theory, research methods and ethics related to counseling practices.

If you are hoping to become a more specialized version of your current profession, pursuing the CCMHC is an excellent way to expand your skillset while also elevating your ability to provide effective care.

Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC)

Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) certification is for professionals who work in rehab centers, hospitals, and other medical settings. CRCs work with patients who have physical disabilities, mental illnesses, and other conditions.

CRCs use their knowledge of rehabilitation to help patients recover from their injuries and illnesses by teaching them how to live independently. They can also offer advice on how to care for someone with a disability as well as help family members cope with the changes caused by an injury or illness.

CRCs often specialize in certain areas such as spinal cord injuries or mental health treatment programs that are specific to veterans returning from war zones overseas (people who have served in the military). These specialists may provide services such as psycho-social evaluations (assessments) so that clients know what type of therapy they need based on their current situation rather than just relying solely on doctor recommendations which sometimes vary depending on each case’s severity level.”

Master Addiction Counselor (MAC)

The Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) certification is a national credential that is awarded by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) to professionals who have met the NBCC’s requirements. The certification requires at least two years of post-master’s degree experience in addiction counseling, as well as extensive documentation of professional activity and a passing score on the exam.

The MAC certification can be especially helpful for those who want to move into management or consulting roles and don’t have time to go through a doctoral program.

Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)

A Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) is a professional counselor who has met the requirements of the state in which they practice. This can include completing an approved graduate-level course of study at an accredited counseling program, passing the National Counselor Exam for Licensure and Certification (NCE), applying for licensure, maintaining current licensure and adhering to state laws and regulations. LPCs are licensed to provide counseling services to individuals, families and groups. They must be able to assess clients’ needs; develop treatment plans based on their assessment findings; make appropriate referrals when needed; engage in ongoing supervision with another qualified counselor as necessary; provide ongoing progress reports/documentation related to client progress; follow ethical standards adopted by their licensing board as well as those established by professional organizations such as ACA or APA.

Registered Play Therapist (RPT).

A Registered Play Therapist (RPT) is a professional who has been trained to use play therapy techniques to help children, adolescents and adults resolve emotional problems. The RPT credential is awarded by the Association for Play Therapy (APT).

National Certified School Counselor (NCSC).

The National Certified School Counselor (NCSC) Certification is a professional credential for school counselors. To earn this certification, you must complete an approved program and pass the NCSC examination. This certification is recognized by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).

The NCSC falls under a category of counseling designations known as credentialing. The NBCC explains that “credentialing programs are designed to provide students with knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to enter practice in their chosen profession.”

National Certified Forensic Counselor (NCFC)

The National Certified Forensic Counselor (NCFC) is a specialty certification for professional counselors who work with clients who have been involved in the legal system. The NCFC credential is a voluntary certification that requires applicants to have a minimum of two years of clinical experience and education related to forensic mental health counseling. To be eligible for the NCFC, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Be currently licensed as a professional counselor by their state or jurisdiction
  • Have at least two years’ full-time experience working in an agency or office whose primary responsibility is assessment, treatment, consultation and/or supervision related to forensic mental health issues
  • Complete training coursework through one of seven accredited providers listed on the NASW website

Certified Domestic Violence Counselor (CDVC)

If you’re interested in becoming a practitioner of domestic violence counseling and want to increase your knowledge base, the Certified Domestic Violence Counselor (CDVC) credential is a good place to start. This designation is awarded by the National Domestic Violence Hotline and it requires a minimum of 1,000 supervised hours of professional counseling experience. Additionally, you’ll need at least 60 hours of training in domestic violence issues over the past two years.

Credential holders are able to provide direct services to victims of intimate partner abuse and take on leadership roles in community settings as well. Some examples include coordinating support groups or training other professionals who work with victims or perpetrators of domestic violence.

Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC)

A Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC) is a credential offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). It is awarded to counselors who have met NBCC’s requirements, which include having at least a master’s degree in counseling and two years of supervised clinical experience.

Like other professional designations, a CCMHC designation can help set you apart from other counselors as well as demonstrate your commitment to high standards and quality practice.

Certified Addiction Specialist (CAS)

The Certified Addiction Specialist (CAS) is a credential offered by the National Certification Board of Addiction Professionals. CAS is a 15-hour program that includes 3 hours of ethics and 3 hours of addiction specialist certification training, as well as 12 hours of coursework on specific addictions (e.g., gambling). The remaining hours are spent preparing for an exam that requires 75% or higher to pass and earn your designation.

Nicotine Dependence Specialist (NDS) 

You can become a Nicotine Dependence Specialist (NDS) by completing the certification process with the International Association of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (IACBT). This process includes submitting an application, taking an assessment exam and meeting certain requirements for continuing education.

The NDS credential is for counselors who have demonstrated knowledge and practice in smoking cessation and tobacco dependence treatment.

National Certified Addiction Counselor, Level I (NCAC I) 

The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) offers the National Certified Addiction Counselor (NCAC) credential, which is designed to recognize addiction counselors who have demonstrated knowledge and experience in the field of addiction counseling.

The curriculum for earning an NCAC designation includes coursework on topics such as:

  • Theories of change and behavior change
  • Alcoholism and substance use disorders treatment models and strategies
  • Legal issues related to addictions counseling

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) 

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) is a professional license that requires you to earn a master’s degree. From there, you’ll complete an internship and clinical training before earning your LCSW designation.

The most common credential for counselors who work in mental health settings, this certification is often required when working with individuals who have received Medicare or Medicaid services as part of their treatment plan.

If you are interested in becoming a counseling professional, there are many options available to you. Whether you want to work with children or adults, the best way to get started is by finding an accredited school that will prepare you for your chosen career path. The next step is choosing which certification or license best matches what type of counseling you want to do, as well as its requirements.

If you need any assistance with navigating your career, contact us for a customized approach to your needs. 

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