Certified Career Counselor (CCC)

CCC Logo-- the new standard of professional excellence for individuals trained as counselors, who will specialize in the delivery of career counseling services

Are you ready to apply?

First, read the FAQ's below and the "CCC Study Guide", then check to see if you are eligible for the Fast Track option. Then scroll to the bottom of the this page and click Apply Now.

What is the Certified Career Counselor (CCC) credential?

This credential is intended for career counselors with an advanced degree (master’s or higher) in counselor education, counseling psychology, rehabilitation counseling or closely related counseling degree, engaged primarily in a career counseling practice or other career counseling-related services. The Certified Career Counselor credential is a recognition of two important factors in training and experience including both counseling and a specialization in career development, theory and practice.

The most important aspect of this credential that differentiates it from other recognized practitioners is that it recognizes the intersection of counseling and career development. As other counseling specializations include substance abuse counseling, mental health counseling, family counseling and others, career counseling involves a core set of competencies that bring together counseling and career expertise. Whether applicants consider themselves counselors with a specialization in career or career service professionals who provide counseling, this credential is designed to recognize this important combination.

Who is eligible for the CCC?

There are three core elements to becoming a Certified Career Counselor through NCDA including an advanced degree in counseling, subsequent training in the career specialization, and a demonstration of competencies required of career counselors.  We accept U.S. degrees and international degrees as well. International candidates will have to get approval through a transcript evaluation service. The credentialing home page explains the options on getting your international transcript evaluated.

The Certified Career Counselor application, therefore, requires the following:

Counseling Education: Successful completion of advanced degree in counselor education, counseling psychology, or closely related degree, with the following options and requirements:

  • Option One:  Candidate graduated from a CACREP, CORE, or APA Accredited Graduate Program.   Must submit the Title of Degree Program, Institution, and Date (month/year).
  • Option Two:  Candidate earned a master’s degree or higher in a counseling program NOT accredited by CACREP, CORE, or APA.  Must download and complete a coursework form and then upload for verification.
  • Option Three: International candidates have earned a master's degree or higher in a counseling program that has been approved through a transcription evaluation service.

Accepted advanced degree programs must include the following core coursework or close equivalent:

  • Ethics and Standards in Professional Counseling
  • Social and Cultural Diversity; Social Justice; or Multicultural Counseling
  • Theories of Human Growth & Development over the Lifespan
  • Career Counseling Theory & Practice
  • Counseling Theory
  • Group Counseling
  • Assessment & Testing in Counseling
  • Research & Program Evaluation

Career Specialization:

Minimum of 600 hours of clinical experience in career counseling, pre or post degree, under the supervision of a career counselor or experienced career professional
Minimum of 60 hours of approved continuing education units in career development research, theory, or practice through NCDA, NCDA State Associations, or NBCC Approved.
Successful completion of the U.S. NCDA Facilitating Career Development course.

Career Counseling Competencies

Successful completion of the online competency assessment and reference check.


Graduates from CACREP accredited Career Counseling graduate programs are granted a "fast track" option for the CCC.  The fast-track option means that graduates of these programs are immediately eligible, upon graduation, to apply and receive the CCC credential, bypassing the assessment portion of the process.


Learn more about CCC:

How does the CCC differ from the Master Career Counselor (MCC) previously offered by NCDA?

The MCC was simply a membership designation developed by NCDA. Although this designation was intended for career counselors with strong academic and professional experience, it was never backed by any formal process to verify and validate an individual’s level of competency in providing career counseling. The MCC designation was discontinued in early 2018 and members should no longer use this inactive designation. The new CCC credential will assess competency through a formal application procedure and successful completion of four case study questions.


What are the career counseling competencies required to become a CCC?

Although all counseling and career specialization competencies are expected and required, successful certification focuses on the competencies as the intersection of career and counseling. These include:

  • A core understanding and appropriate application of theory
  • An understanding and application of ethical counseling practice
  • The ability to identify and understand familial and cultural influences as they relate to clients' careers. Supporting and challenging clients to examine life-work roles within a larger context including culture, the balance of work, leisure, family, and community in their careers
  • Expertise in evaluating and selecting valid and reliable instruments appropriate to the client's gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and physical and mental capacities; administer, score, and report findings from career assessment instruments appropriately
  • Demonstrating knowledge of education, training, and employment trends; labor market information and resources that provide information about job tasks, functions, salaries, requirements and future outlooks related to broad occupational fields and individual occupations.


What are the parts to the application process?

The application includes these parts:

  1. Contact & Demographic Information - Tell us how to reach you and give us demographic information that can be used for research purposes.  This information is not shared with the reviewer.

  2. Application Fee - The application fee is $175. Individuals whose applications are denied will not receive a refund.  Fees are collected by PayPal.
  1. References - Two references are required.  The online application will ask for contact information for your three references. Upon submission, your two references will be sent a link to an online form asking them to respond to a set of basic questions. After your reference has completed the online Reference Form, it will be automatically placed in your application.
  1. Degree Documentation - Degree verification from CACREP, CORE, or APA accredited counseling program or transcript and course equivalent form (found in application). If you did not graduate from a program accredited by one of these organizations, you can download a form to document your related coursework and upload it into the application along with your transcript.

  2. Documentation of Experience - Documentation is required to verify career experience including one of the following:

    Option One:  I completed at least 600 hours of an internship/practicum clinical experience in career counseling, during or post-degree, under the supervision of a licensed counselor, an NCDA Certified Career Counselor or a center/agency director.  You must complete the Documentation of Career Counseling Experience form and upload with your CCC documentation. This option will likely be limited to graduates of CACREP Career Counseling programs.

    Option Two:  I have collected at least 60 continuing education units specifically in career development theory, research, or practice through NCDA, NCDA state associations or NBCC approved.  Requires documentation of hours.

    Option Three: I have completed the U.S. NCDA Facilitating Career Development curriculum. Requires name of instructor and date completed.

  3. Attestations - You will be asked to attest that your work is your own, and that you have read the NCDA Code of Ethics and will abide by it.  Click here to read the NCDA Code of Ethics now.
  1. Verification by NCDA staff that the application is complete. NCDA staff will verify that all information has been completed and references have been received. 
  1. Complete the CCC Case Studies - In order to assess your career counseling competencies, you will be given four case studies to review. The end of each case study asks very specific questions about how you would approach the case. Each question must be completed in a single sitting but you can take a break between questions. Once you look at the case study, you must complete your response within 60 minutes.  You may not receive assistance from anyone else.  After each case study, you may stop and return later.
  1. Blind Review - Your Case Study responses will be sent to a professional trained as a reviewer.  The reviewer will not receive any identifying information about you.  The reviewer will score your responses.  The review process typically takes three weeks to complete.  You will be notified by email as soon as the review has been completed
  1. Certification - Once your application has been approved, you will receive written notice along with your certificate.  The certification is valid for three years. To maintain the credential, you must pay an annual maintenance fee and recertify at the end of the three-year period. Documentation of at least 30 continuing education clock hours during the three-year period is required for recertification.


What if I don’t pass?

Those who do not pass one or more of the case studies may retest on that/those questions with a new question within one month.  If the retest is also unsuccessful, the applicant must wait one year to reapply and pay the fee. Further education is highly recommended during this year.


How do I keep my credential up-to-date?

The certification will be in effect for a three (3) year period. After holding the credential for one year, the certificant must pay a maintenance fee of $40.00 for one year (or $50 for two years). The certificant must complete thirty (30) continuing education contact hours in career development by the end of this 3-year period (essentially 10 hours per year). At the end of this period, the credential holder will be notified via email that it is time to recertify and may have an opportunity to provide documentation of CEs. Recertification will be automatic if fees are paid annually and sufficient CE hours have been earned.


How do I find continuing education relevant to career development?

See the NCDA Continuing Education webpage for complete details.


I have used the title of Career Counselor throughout my professional career but do not currently meet the CCC requirements. Why are the requirements so restrictive?

For many years, NCDA members and the public at large have asked for clarification of the differences between the wide varieties of career services providers. NCDA’s Board of Directors has long reflected on the need for industry credentials for its members and first attempted to explain these differences through the Membership Designations Program. The feedback has been clear that this program did not go far enough in addressing the educational and experience levels of its members. In defining the new certifications, the NCDA Credentialing Commission aligned each with the NCDA Code of Ethics and the ACA Code of Ethics (our parent association). The NCDA Code of Ethics includes the following definition:

Career Counselor – a professional (or a student who is a career counselor-in-training) with an advanced degree (master’s or doctoral level) in counselor education, counseling psychology or closely related counseling degree, engaged in a career counseling practice or other career counseling-related services. Career counselors fulfill many roles and responsibilities such as career counselor educators, researchers, supervisors, practitioners, and consultants.

The requirements for the Certified Career Counselor align with the NCDA Code of Ethics and this definition.


Does this credential have anything to do with counseling licensure?

No. Certifications, licensure, and permission to practice are unrelated concepts. Each state and country have their own requirements related to the license to practice and title acts that may prohibit the use of certain titles. It is very important that you check with the rules of your institution and your state. This credential is recognition that you have met the requirements to be a Certified Career Counselor by NCDA, which may or may not overlap with requirements for other credentials.


Why are applicants required to have either supervised experience, the Facilitating Career Development curriculum or continuing education in the career specialization?

As this credential recognizes the intersection of counseling and a specialization in career, this requirement is designed to document how counselors have become specialists in career. While a few counseling programs offer numerous courses in career counseling, most do not and a specialization in career is developed through supervised practice (either in an internship or work setting) or through specialized continuing education.


What do I need to know to use the application software?

After you complete the NCDA form which starts your application, you will be sent a confirmation email with directions to link to the new credentialing application system to create an account. This system will guide you through the application process.


New Fast Track Credentialing Option

The NCDA Credential Commission and Board of Directors are pleased to announce the approval of a fast-track option for the Certified Career Counselor (CCC) credential for recent graduates from a CACREP accredited Career Counseling graduate program (specifically, it has to be a CACREP Career Counseling Program, not just a CACREP Counseling Program.) The fast-track option means that graduates of these programs are immediately eligible, upon graduation, to apply and receive the CCC credential, bypassing the assessment portion of the process. The CCC credential is intended for graduates with an advanced career counseling degree (master’s or higher) and it recognizes two important factors in training and experience including both counseling and a specialization in career development, theory and practice. Click Apply Now and follow instructions.


I'm ready! How can I apply for the CCC?

Before beginning your application, we highly recommend that you review the "CCC Study Guide". You do not have to complete the entire application at one time, but you must submit it within 90 days of starting it.


 Clicking on the Apply Now link will start your new NCDA Credentialing Application by completing an NCDA form. Once your information, including payment, has been completed, you will receive the link to continue the application process and upload the appropriate documents. When applying on that second link, you will be leaving the NCDA website and will be directed to  create a new account within the new system. Your NCDA login will not work with the credentialing application system.