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What is an LPC and an LCPC? A guide to licensed counselors in Illinois

In Illinois, the road to LPC and LCPC licensing can be fraught with confusing requirements and (so!) many acronyms.

First, let’s clear this up. What is an LPC? LPC licensing is for those who are interested in becoming licensed professional counselors. What is an LCPC? LCPC stands for licensed clinical professional counselors.

While both licenses will allow you to provide counseling and therapy services to a variety of populations, LCPC is a higher level of license for professionals who are interested in supervisory roles, research, development, or providing training to staff.

The main difference between LPC and LCPC licensing is that the LCPC license has additional supervision and examination requirements.

Whether you’re interested in becoming an LPC or an LCPC in Illinois, we are here to help clear up any misperceptions. Here’s how to navigate the differences between the two licenses and how you can pursue a successful counseling career.

How do you BECOME AN LPC THERAPIST in Illinois?

In Illinois, LPC licensing is earned through the completion of three areas: education, an examination, and clinical supervision.


Individuals must complete a master’s or doctoral degree in an area related to counseling. Courses should cover topics ranging from counseling theory, legal responsibilities (including Illinois law), individual appraisal, substance abuse, and more.

To qualify for licensure, the master’s or doctoral program must be from a regionally accredited institution and meet specific degree and coursework requirements.

In addition to this course load, individuals must also have a practicum or internship experience.


To earn LPC licensing, Illinois also requires completion of the National Board for Certified Counselors’ National Counselor Examination (NCE). Once you’re ready to take the NCE, you must apply to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to get approval to take the exam.

Once approved, you must take the exam within a six-month window. The NCE is comprised of 200 multiple choice questions and takes approximately four hours to complete.

Clinical supervision

Clinical supervision is the final piece of the LPC license process. This is a one-time requirement of 18 hours in clinical supervision.

Career path

With the LPC license, you can become an LPC therapist. Your career path can lead to becoming a school guidance counselor, a marriage and family therapist, a mental health counselor, or a substance abuse counselor.

If you wish to take your counseling career to the next level, think about becoming an LCPC (licensed clinical professional counselor).


How do you earn LCPC licensing in Illinois?

The LCPC license is more time-intensive than the LPC license. You do not need to earn the LPC license to become an LCPC, but the LPC requirements are part of the LCPC licensing requirements.


Like the LPC, the LCPC requires the completion of a master’s or doctoral degree in psychology or a related field from an accredited program.


In addition to the NCE exam, LCPC candidates must pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Exam (NCMHCE). This exam is more rigorous than the NCE.  It includes 10 simulated clinical mental health counseling cases.

Clinical supervision

Individuals must work under supervision for two years. One year includes 960 hours of supervised, face-to-face, direct counseling experience within 48 weeks.

During this period, you must meet with your supervisor for a minimum of one hour every week.

Career path

With the LCPC license, you can be a licensed clinical professional counselor, licensed clinical social worker, licensed clinical psychologist, or a licensed clinical psychiatrist. Many LCPCs work as directors—supervising staff, developing and implementing program practices, and providing coaching and training of other clinicians.


How to renew your LPC or LCPC license

Whether you hold LPC or LCPC licensing, you’re required to renew your license every other year. Renewal is dependent upon taking 30 hours of continuing education.

In Illinois, the license renewal deadline is March 31 of odd-numbered years.


Interested in becoming an LPC or LCPC?

The first step is beginning your master’s or doctoral degree. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s Chicago Campus offers a wide variety of degrees to prepare you for your future as an LPC or LCPC.

From a Master’s Program in Counseling Psychology to our American Psychology Association-accredited Psy.D Program in Clinical Psychology, our Chicago campus provides diverse degree tracks perfect for helping you achieve your career goals. Explore all TCSPP Chicago Campus programs here.

No matter what degree you pursue, The Chicago School helps every student find relevant, engaging field experience to fulfill the Illinois internship requirement for licensing.

If you already have a degree but you need some help along your journey to LPC or LCPC licensing, we offer Continuing Education credits (CE) to current psychologists.

To request more information, fill out the form below.



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