An assessment of the career benefits of state statutory credentials and national board certification as perceived by professional counselors
The purpose of the study was to ascertain the perceptions of a sample of professional counselors regarding how important holding five specific credentials is to a counselor's career and how helpful these credentials are in securing each of twelve career benefits presented in the Perceptions of Professional Counselors Inventory (PCCI). The following counselor credentials were considered: (a) Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), (b) Certified Professional Counselor (CPC), (c) Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC), (d) Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), and (e) National Certified Counselor (NBCC). In early 1993, a national sample of 1,604 professional members of the American Counseling Association was surveyed by mail using the PCCI, a self-report instrument, which was developed by the author to obtain the data needed to address five research questions related to the study problem. The data were tallied into frequency distributions; means and ranks of the means were calculated; and chi-square analyses were conducted to determine the significance of differences in responses at the p $\leq$.01 level. A significant relationship was found between the type of credential and its perceived helpfulness to the achievement of each of the twelve benefits of reference, with the LPC eliciting a larger percentage of responses in the "essential" category than did the other credentials. These results strongly indicate that the LPC credential, among those five considered, is seen as both the most important to a counselor's career and most helpful to obtaining the career benefits. In general, credentials other than the LPC were considered less essential but "slightly" to "very helpful" to the achievement of nine of the twelve benefits. However, there were significant differences regarding the LPC's helpfulness to the attainment of eight of the twelve career benefits when comparing study participants who hold some type of credential (not necessarily the LPC) and those who do not. The findings seem to warrant the conclusion that the LPC is the primary credential that counselors should acquire in their attempt to realize the twelve career benefits of reference, especially those related to third-party reimbursement, preferred status in job hiring, and qualifications necessary to be seen as an expert witness.