Become a Counselor in South Dakota | The Path to Counseling

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South Dakota Counselor

Embarking on becoming a counselor in South Dakota is an enriching career path filled with opportunities to impact individuals’ lives significantly. The process is multifaceted and involves acquiring the necessary educational credentials, obtaining licensure, gaining practical experience, and maintaining professional development. In South Dakota, it becomes more beneficial when setting up a limited liability company (LLC) to protect your assets and enhance your professional reputation. This introduction provides an overview of becoming a counselor in South Dakota, offering insight into the promising prospects and the crucial steps involved.

Webinarcare Editorial Team will help you gain knowledge through thorough research and market study. Before becoming a counselor in South Dakota, all the steps in this article must guide you.

What is a Counselor?

A counselor in South Dakota is a licensed mental health professional who provides guidance, support, and therapeutic interventions to individuals, couples, families, and groups facing various emotional, psychological, and behavioral challenges. Counselors in South Dakota work in various settings, including private practice (as an LLC or Corporation in South Dakota), mental health clinics, schools, hospitals, substance abuse treatment centers, and community organizations.

To become a counselor in South Dakota, individuals must complete educational and licensure requirements, including earning a master’s degree in counseling or a related field, completing the supervised clinical experience, passing the required licensing exams, and maintaining their license through ongoing professional development and continuing education. The specific licensure requirements and regulations for counselors in South Dakota are overseen by the South Dakota Board of Examiners for Counselors and Marriage & Family Therapists.

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How to Become a Counselor in South Dakota

If you’re considering becoming a counselor in South Dakota, it’s important to understand the steps and requirements involved in obtaining your license and starting your professional journey. This step-by-step guide will walk you through becoming a counselor.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

The first step towards becoming a counselor in South Dakota is to complete a bachelor’s degree. While a degree in Psychology, Social Work, or a related field is often preferred, it is only sometimes required. Many graduate counseling programs will accept students with bachelor’s degrees in other disciplines, provided they have completed the necessary prerequisite courses.

Be sure to research the requirements of the graduate programs you are interested in to ensure that your undergraduate coursework aligns with their admission criteria.


Step 2: Pursue a Master’s Degree in Counseling

After earning a bachelor’s degree, the next step is to enroll in a master’s degree program in counseling or a closely related field. In South Dakota, aspiring counselors must complete a graduate program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or an equivalent accrediting body. These programs typically take two to three years to complete and include coursework in counseling theory, ethics, multicultural counseling, research methods, and supervised clinical experiences.

When selecting a graduate program, it is essential to consider your desired area of specialization. Some programs offer tracks in specific counseling fields, such as mental health, school counseling, or marriage and family therapy. Other programs provide a more general counseling education, allowing students to choose electives that align with their career goals. Additionally, some programs in South Dakota may offer online or hybrid learning options, providing increased flexibility for working professionals or those with family responsibilities.

Here is the list of Master’s Degree Counseling Programs in South Dakota.

  • Master of Science (MSc) in Counseling Psychology
  • Master’s in Mental Health Counseling
  • Master of Education (MEd) in School Counseling
  • Master’s in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling
  • Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Master’s in Clinical Counseling
  • Master’s in Career Counseling
  • Master’s in Addiction Counseling
  • Master’s in Art Therapy Counseling
  • Master’s in Child and Adolescent Counseling
  • Master’s in Forensic Counseling
  • Master’s in Grief Counseling
  • Master’s in Multicultural Counseling
  • Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling
  • Master’s in Pastoral Counseling
  • Master’s in Trauma and Crisis Counseling
  • Master’s in Genetic Counseling
  • Master’s in Gerontological Counseling
  • Master’s in Educational Counseling
  • Master’s in Student Affairs and College Counseling.

Step 3: Complete Supervised Clinical Experience

Before becoming a licensed counselor in South Dakota, individuals must complete several supervised clinical experience hours. The specific requirements vary depending on the type of counseling license being pursued. For example, South Dakota Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) may need to complete 3,000 hours of supervised experience, while Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs) may require 1,500 hours of direct client contact.

Supervised clinical experience typically occurs during the master’s degree program and may continue post-graduation. These experiences allow aspiring counselors to gain practical, hands-on experience working with diverse populations and addressing various mental health concerns under the guidance of a licensed professional. Tracking your clinical hours and ensuring that your supervisor provides the necessary documentation to verify your experience when applying for South Dakota licensure is essential.

Step 4: Pass The Required Licensing Exams

Once you have completed your master’s degree and supervised clinical experience, you must pass the required licensing exams for your chosen area of specialization. In South Dakota, the National Counselor Examination (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) is typically required for those seeking licensure as a professional counselor. The Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) administers the national marriage and family therapist licensure examination. Here are the costs associated with the examinations:

  • National Counselor Examination – $195 to $275
  • National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination – $275
  • National Examination for Licensure of Marriage and Family Therapist – $355

These exams assess your knowledge of counseling theories, techniques, and ethical standards and your ability to apply this knowledge in practice. Thorough preparation is essential for success on these exams, and many resources are available to help you review key concepts and practice exam questions.

Step 5: Apply For Licensure

After passing the required licensing exams, you can apply for licensure in South Dakota. This process typically involves applying to the South Dakota Board of Examiners for Counselors and Marriage & Family Therapists, proof of your education, supervised clinical experience, and exam scores. You may also be required to submit a background check and pay a licensing fee ranging from $100 – $200.

Be sure to review the specific licensure requirements for your desired area of specialization, as the criteria may vary slightly depending on the type of counseling license you are seeking. Also, remember that licensure requirements can change over time so staying informed of any updates to the South Dakota licensing process is essential.

Step 6: Engage in Professional Development

Once you have become a licensed counselor in South Dakota, engaging in ongoing professional development and continuing education opportunities is essential. Maintaining a high level of knowledge and skill in your field will benefit your clients and help you stay competitive in the job market and advance your career. If you will provide professional service or build a business to practice your counseling profession, consider forming a Professional Corporation in South Dakota. If you have a colleague with the same profession as a counselor, consider forming a General Partnership in South Dakota

In South Dakota, counselors must complete several continuing education hours every licensure renewal period. These requirements may vary depending on your area of specialization and the specific regulations of the South Dakota Board of Examiners for Counselors and Marriage & Family Therapists. Continuing education opportunities can include workshops, conferences, online courses, and academic coursework related to counseling theory, practice, and ethics.

In addition to continuing education, consider joining professional associations related to your specialization. These organizations offer valuable networking opportunities, access to research and resources, and advocacy for the counseling profession. Some examples of professional associations for counselors include the American Counseling Association (ACA), the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), and the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES).

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How Much Does a Counselor Make in South Dakota?

The salary for a counselor in South Dakota can vary depending on factors such as experience, education, and area of specialization. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2020, the median annual wage for mental health counselors in the United States was $47,660.


What are the requirements to become a licensed counselor in South Dakota?
To become a licensed counselor in South Dakota, you must have a master’s degree in counseling, complete 3,000 hours of supervised counseling experience, and pass the National Counselor Examination.
What kind of counseling licenses are available in South Dakota?
South Dakota offers two types of counseling licenses
How do I know if I have completed enough supervised counseling hours to apply for a license?
You can count your supervised hours by completing the Supervision Verification Form and submitting it with your licensure application to the board.
What is the job outlook for counselors in South Dakota?
The job outlook for counselors in South Dakota is positive, with a projected growth rate of 14.1% through 2026.
Is there an exam I need to take to become a counselor in South Dakota?
Yes, to become a licensed counselor in South Dakota, you need to pass the National Counselor Examination.
Can I work as a counselor in South Dakota with an out-of-state counseling license?
South Dakota offers licensure by endorsement, which means you might be able to work with an out-of-state license, but specific requirements apply.
How long does it take to become a licensed counselor in South Dakota?
Becoming a licensed counselor in South Dakota can take anywhere from two to seven years, depending on the individual’s educational and clinical requirements.
Do I need to complete continuing education to maintain my counseling license in South Dakota?
Yes, to maintain your counseling license in South Dakota, you must complete 30 continuing education units every two years.
Can I practice counseling before receiving my counseling license in South Dakota?
You cannot practice counseling independently until you are licensed in South Dakota.
What are the necessary fields to specialize in to become a counselor in South Dakota?
When getting a counseling license in South Dakota, there is no specialty choice required.
Can I begin counseling in South Dakota before I finish my degree program?
You can only start practicing counseling after completing your counseling program and all other core requirements for a counseling license in South Dakota.
How often do counseling license renewals happen in South Dakota?
Counseling license renewals happen every two years in South Dakota.
Do I need to have liability insurance to practice counseling in South Dakota?
Liability insurance requirements depend on employers and individual practices in South Dakota.
What do I need to do to advance in my career as a counselor in South Dakota?
Continuing education and on-the-job work experiences can lead to skill building and job promotions in South Dakota for counselors.
Can I work as a school counselor in South Dakota?
Yes, you can help K-12 students from testing conflicts to mental health crises with a license in South Dakota.
What is the cost of getting a counseling license in South Dakota?
Each part of the licensure process – exam fees, different forms, and applications – is spaced out, but varies from $200 – $250.
What does a counselor’s salary look like in South Dakota?
In South Dakota, licensed clinical, school and counseling salaries average from $47,090 and higher depending on the degree they have.
What courses should I take in South Dakota if interested in the counseling profession?
Current students interested in counseling take courses aligned with counseling, therapy, and effective communication with different backgrounds and experiences.
Is there a high demand for mental health counselors in South Dakota?
Yes, with the problem of mental illness, psycho-social health issues, there is a high demand for counselors in South Dakota.
Where can I find the application for counselor license In South Dakota?
You can find the application on the South Dakota Board of Examiners for Counselors and Marriage & Family Therapists website.
Is it required to go to a counseling training institute to become licensed in South Dakota?
South Dakota doesn’t require therapeutic training because administered education must align to satisfy specific Board required hours of coursework.
How do I report mentoring hours I’ve received when applying for a counseling license in South Dakota?
You will fill out the South Dakota Board of Examiners for Counselors and Marriage & Family Therapists Supervision Verification Form to report mentoring supervisors’ hours.
Can I start to see clients while going to school for counseling in South Dakota?
Counseling professionals beginning their program look to learn their craft but cannot see clients alone until finishing it in South Dakota.
After obtaining my bachelor’s degree, can I pursue counseling for a graduate school in South Dakota?
The preferred requirement for South Dakota Board for licensure requires that a graduate degree program satisfies all expectations IRT coursework.
Can I become a counselor after previously receiving a criminal conviction?
Answer:A criminal conviction does not disqualify a candidate automatically, but offenses have varied degrees of possible licensure non-eligibility.
Will I have a higher salary as I will gain experience as a counselor in South Dakota?
Yes, experience is often rewarded with steady pay raises and promotions in South Dakota, displaying an upward salary trajectory.
Is there a joint licensing program for counseling licenses available in South Dakota to obtain LMHP-SP or LAPC counselor licensure/practicum hours?
South Dakota grants Youth and Family Services a table of JYMHPs receiving their treatment specialists’ licensure, a state-purtaining plan in counseling.
Should I renew my license as soon as I am notified or a few days before it expires?
Renew your South Dakota counseling license a month-or-two ahead of your expiration date, as licenses cannot be renewed once it’s expired.
Can I become licensed as a counselor with an online degree obtained from a college in South Dakota?
Yes, as long as the program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
What are the fees associated with applying for licensure as a counselor in South Dakota?
The application fee is $200 and the initial licensure fee is $100.
Is there a significant difference between a licensed professional counselor and a licensed mental health counselor in South Dakota?
No, as of 2021 both are able to become licensed with similar requirements and standards.
Do I need to complete continuing education as a licensed counselor in South Dakota?
Yes, 40 hours of continuing education credits must be completed every two years to maintain licensure.
Can I still work as a counselor if I’m in the process of earning my required supervised hours?
Yes, as long as you are supervised by an a licensed and qualified counselor, approval from South Dakota Board of Examiners.
Are counselors allowed to prescribe medication in South Dakota?
No, only certified psychiatric nurse practitioners and medical doctors can prescribe medication.
Can I transfer my counselor license from another state to South Dakota?
Yes, as long as the requirements for licensure and supervision standards are met.
Do I need a bachelor’s degree to become a licensed counselor in South Dakota?
Yes, a bachelor’s degree in psychology, sociology, or counseling can be beneficial when applying for graduate programs.
How long does it take to become licensed as a counselor in South Dakota?
It typically takes six years to complete the education and supervised hours required for licensure in South Dakota.
Is there a demand for counselors in South Dakota?
Yes, many regions in South Dakota experience a significant need for diverse behavioral and mental health professionals.
Do I need a background check for counselor licensure in South Dakota?
Yes, a background check will be conducted before becoming licensed.
How do I locate qualified supervisors as a counselor intern in South Dakota?
Ask counselors and professionals in the field or your educational program advisor.
Can I practice counseling without a license in South Dakota?
No, only licensed professionals can provide counseling and related services in the state.
What are the ethical standards for counselors in South Dakota?
South Dakota Board of Counselor Examiners uphold ethical standards necessary for license.
What are common areas counselors might specialize in in South Dakota?
Trauma, addiction treatment, LGBT+ health care, and veteran mental health may be imp specific areas.
Do different counties in South Dakota have varying requirements for counselor licensure?
No, regulations follow uniform state standards for regulation of counseling providers
What programs in South Dakota offer education for potential counselors?
Programs potentially include specialized colleges and graduate schools in psychology or public health.
What are some potential barriers to counseling practice in South Dakota?
Rural settings with many isolating environments may represzent logistical barriers in the state.
How much can a licensed counselor in South Dakota expect to make?
When based on rural vs. more populated urban regions, data suggests that counselor salaries may range between $34K and may range up to $87K annually.
What types of clientele might a counselor in South Dakota serve?
Clients with mental health, co-occurring disorders, and those with adjustments and lifestyle changing needs are some examples.
Can any counselor licensed in South Dakota provide services to soldiers and military families?
Specialized requirements may apply to enable specialized military family and soldier-related services . Ask your supervisor for guidance.
Is ADD/ADHD considered for counseling services in South Dakota?
Yes, counselors may offer focused counseling services guidance/instruction for ADHD coping mechanisms.
What types of professional organizations are helpful to counseling licensure in South Dakota?
South Dakota Counseling Association and the South Dakota Board of Counselor Examiners.
Can counselors work as private practice providers?
Yes, provided the licensed as a Licensed Professional Counselor and establish a distinct private practice.
Can counseling programs in South Dakota provide counseling to clients?
Yes, occasionally programs may offer counseling experiences through community partnerships or clinical internships practiced under supervised clinical assistance with professionals.
Can my family members continue taking up residence in South Dakota without impacting my choice to practice counseling here?
Answer:Yes, South Dakota references legal clearance act that prohibits family member-discriminatory lobbying against the potential activities for involved party.
Do interns need to maintain training schedules with a supervisor/ranchise upon receiving counselor licensure?
Yes, collaborating with a licensed counselor will continue and remain part of the continuing professional education requirements with additional professional development courses. Work on re-licensure takes place every two years to reflect individual competencies.

Also Read

How to Save Money While Starting a Becoming Counselor in South Dakota

First and foremost, it’s essential to establish a budget to keep track of your income and expenses. By diligently tracking where your money goes, you gain a clearer understanding of your financial situation. This information allows you to identify areas where you can successfully save money. It might be surprising to notice how much small daily expenses can add up, so addressing these areas can significantly impact your overall financial health.

One effective strategy is to reduce unnecessary costs. This might involve adopting a thriftier lifestyle by cutting out non-essential expenses. Understanding your needs versus wants is paramount as you navigate through this new phase of life. For example, opting for homemade lunches instead of eating out frequently can save a substantial amount of money in the long run. Exploring discount stores for household items, rather than luxury boutiques, can also contribute to significant savings.

Consider finding ways to supplement your income as you start your journey toward becoming a counselor. Nowadays, there are numerous part-time job opportunities that enable flexibility and can function as an additional source of income. Many online platforms offer freelance opportunities, such as virtual tutoring or content writing, allowing you to earn money from the comfort of your own home. This kind of supplementary income can help cover any unexpected expenses or contribute to your savings goals.

It’s also essential to plan ahead and save for any professional expenses related to becoming a counselor. If you require further education or certification, carefully research your options to find the most affordable programs and compare their quality. Look for grants, scholarships, or financial aid opportunities that could ease the burden of tuition expenses. Moreover, joining professional networks or organizations can provide access to valuable resources, share ways to save money, and offer opportunities for professional development at reduced costs.

Another area worth considering is finding creative ways to save on your housing expenses. Opting for a smaller, more affordable living space or sharing an apartment with roommates can significantly reduce your monthly rent. Additionally, energy-saving practices, such as turning off unused lights and being mindful of water consumption, contribute not only to a greener environment but also to lower utility bills.

Transportation is another aspect where costs can be reduced. Using public transportation whenever possible, carpooling, or cycling to work are all sustainable commuting options that can save money on gas, parking fees, and vehicle maintenance costs. Moreover, many counseling workplaces are now practicing remote work, allowing professionals to work from home and eliminate commuting expenses altogether.

At the beginning of your counseling career, it’s crucial to focus on obtaining experience rather than expensive material possessions. Prioritizing your professional growth and setting financial goals will pave the way for future success. A counselor’s ultimate reward is making a positive impact on others’ lives, and by saving money from the start, you ensure a smoother and more secure journey toward achieving your aspirations.

In conclusion, embarking on the journey of becoming a counselor in South Dakota encompasses numerous factors, with financial considerations being pivotal. By committing to financial responsibility, embracing budgeting, reducing unnecessary costs, supplementing your income, saving for professional expenses, and being mindful of living and transportation costs, you’ll set yourself up for success both in your career and your financial health.


Becoming a counselor in South Dakota is a rewarding and fulfilling career path for those passionate about helping others overcome challenges and improve their mental health and well-being. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you will be well on your way to becoming a licensed counselor and positively impacting the lives of those in need. Remember to stay informed of any changes to the licensure requirements and engage in ongoing professional development to ensure that you continue to provide the highest quality of care to your clients.

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