If you read my last blog, you know that I was preparing myself for a long wait in getting my temporary LPC license. Well, good news! It only took EIGHT days from the day I mailed it until the day I was granted my LPC-I number with the state of Texas! I think that must be a new record or something, right? It actually happened so fast that I didn’t know until days later. I want to share some tips with you so hopefully your license will get to you quickly as well.
Tip 1: Stay organized. Organization is key throughout this process if you want it to go as quickly as possible. Regardless of whether you are a first year master’s student or if you are in the final stage of practicum and looking at graduation, I strongly recommend organizing all academic and professional documents. It really helped me later on that I was so OCD about this kind of thing—I even had sealed, signed copies of all college transcripts on hand. I suggest you have some sort of filing system in place for all your educational and professional documents. This way, whenever you need something, you won’t waste valuable time scrambling around searching the house or having to order a transcript.
Tip 2: Research your state licensing authority’s website ASAP. Notice I said, “research?” Yeah, that was deliberate. It’s not enough to just glance or look at the website. In my last blog you can read about how I learned my lesson on that. I read over the part of the website I thought would contain all the pertinent information regarding the contents of my application packet. Then I noticed something listed elsewhere and it cost me three extra days of wait time. Also check back on the website periodically in case things are added or deleted.
Tip 3: Knock out your licensing requirements right away. Be sure you are familiar with everything that’s required of you for whichever level you will be applying. Even if you don’t know where you’ll be working yet, go ahead and take care of whatever you can. There will be requirements such as a state jurisprudence exam, for example, that you will need to pay for and take. Another thing is ordering official transcripts which might take some time to get back in the mail.
Tip 4: Contact the state board directly with any questions. Clarify anything you’re unsure about rather than risk assuming incorrectly or missing something. I know we all “hear” things about what is needed in the packet, etc. but it’s better to get the information directly from the horse’s mouth. Plus, advice or guidance you may have gotten from someone else may have changed since they applied. This might especially apply to special circumstances such as time elapses or differences between two states’ requirements.
Tip 5: Get your application packet items together ahead of time. Even if there is no job on the horizon whatsoever, go ahead and get everything physically prepared for your application anyway. Make copies of things such as your graduate practicum hours, copy of your counseling exam, whatever you can. (Always keep your originals, and don’t give away your only copy of anything, by the way.) When you start putting your actual application packet early, this will save you time later. Then you’ll be ready to go as soon as you get that amazing job offer and your supervisor-to-be’s lovely signature. I had a big manila envelope on my desk and I kept adding things to it as I got them. Doing this may also help you to keep your eye on the prize and to stay motivated.
Tip 6: Have your packaging and mailing plan in place ahead of time. Don’t wait until it’s time to mail your packet to figure out how you want to do that. That was a mistake I made which cost me another day’s wait. Decide how you want it mailed: Overnight? Tracking? Registered? Then make sure the mailing option you choose is available to you and/or in your area. For instance, as I wrote in my last blog, mailing companies such as FEDEX might not mail to a P.O. box, but the USPS will.
Tip 7: Make sure everything is in order in your application packet and make a cover sheet. While it’s not a requirement, I created a simple cover sheet and put it on the top of my stack of papers in my packet. I just used a hand-written cover sheet until a couple days before it was time to mail the packet. This allowed me to write on it, cross off things that were already in the packet, highlight things I still needed to add, etc. Once the packet was complete, I printed out a nice, neat Word document listing everything that was inside the packet. It was a list of everything that was required and it went in the exact same order as the documents behind it—which was in the order of the list on the website. You don’t want to make the license board members search for something—that could end up with them thinking you are missing an item or tossing your packet out.
Tip 8: Apply online if that is an option in your state. When I was almost ready to submit my packet and was waiting on just a couple things, I went ahead and applied/paid online. I still filled out the paper form completely and handed it in with my packet though. I’m not sure if this helped in my fast processing or not, but obviously it didn’t hurt anything.
Tip 9: Double check everything when it’s time to mail the packet. By this I mean double-check your stack of papers, compare it to the requirements for your state, and double-check the state website that very day.
Tip 10: Check on your license status regularly. The state of Texas has a very convenient online system so I was able to just log in and check to see if I had been assigned my temporary license number yet. Take it from me, you don’t want to waste additional time just sitting around when your license is sitting there waiting for YOU!
From what I’ve heard from other LPC-Is and LPCs, my mere eight day turnaround is not the norm. A lot has to do with when the licensing board meets. My packet must have arrived the day they were meeting and was sitting on the very top of their stack or something. So I think a bit of luck had a lot to do with things in my case (and my amazing karma of course). But my organization and timeliness definitely eliminated any additional wait time which is all we can really ask to control. Good luck to you!
Natosha Monroe is a counselor intern with the LifeWorks Group in Texas (www.wefixbrains.com). She specializes in the empowerment of trauma survivors, Veterans, first responders, and expats. Blog contents are her own and do not represent the Army or DoD.