If you are looking for information on how to become a Counselor in Illinois, keep in mind that there are standards and requirements that must be met.
The state of Illinois licenses professional counselors and certifies school guidance counselors.
As you plan for your counseling career, make sure that you think in terms of what areas of counseling interest you most and what professional references you can utilize.
Future Counselor: For Illinois High School Student or High School Graduate
Your First Step:
When choosing a major as an undergraduate, bear in mind that something in the area of human services would be ideal. Psychology and Social Work are two viable options. Gain information about graduate admission policies.
Your Second Step:
Seek out work or volunteer experiences that showcase your commitment to working as a counselor. The types of places in which you can volunteer include places such as clinics, schools, and mental health facilities.
You will more than likely need to write a professional statement, as well as submit professional references.
Bachelor’s Degree College Graduates:
Do your research on viable programs that meet your needs and discover their individual admission requirements. You must pass the Illinois Basic Skills exam prior to being licensed as a school counselor.
Make sure that you enter a graduate program approved by the Illinois State Board of Education. The graduate counseling program must include a practicum of at least 100 hours and an internship of at least 600 hours. Candidates who are not certified as a teacher will need coursework that covers the educational system, human development, classroom management, and diversity (including state programs designed to meet diverse needs). If you are interested in becoming a professional counselor, you are able to enroll in a Master’s level program in mental health counseling, rehabilitation counseling, or something closely related.
Ideally, the program should be accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE). Other programs are acceptable if they meet state curriculum standards and are housed in schools that maintain appropriate institutional level accreditation. (CORE accredits programs in rehabilitation counseling while CACREP accredits most other counseling disciplines. Programs in related fields such as counseling psychology may have other accreditations.)
Make sure to complete all coursework and internship requirements. It’s also a good idea to become a student member of the Illinois Counseling Association.
You are able to apply for interim certification that allows you to work as a school counseling intern while you complete your degree requirements.
Make sure to apply to take the licensing exam. As an aspiring professional counselor, you must complete the National Counselor Examination, available through the National Board for Certified Counselors, or the certification exam offered by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification.
It is necessary to work under supervision for two years before being able to attain the highest level of licensing: Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor.
Illinois Counselor Licensing and Certification Agencies
We wish you the best of success in your pursuit of becoming a counselor in Illinois.