Want to become a therapist. Deciding between LCSW or LPC?

I’m considering going back to school to become a therapist as a second career. I’m in my early thirties and work in tech marketing currently. The money’s great but I sometimes feel like it’s killing my soul.

My wife is about to finish law school and has a very well-paying biglaw job lined up, which gives me some freedom to pursue a lower-paying career (though money is certainly not immaterial because we live in a very HCOL area – northern VA.

One of the many decisions I’m having trouble with is whether to pursue an LPC aligned degree or an LCSW one.

I am primarily interested in one on one counseling, and I guess the dream (in this very nascent stage) would be to one day have a private practice where I help with addiction, depression, anxiety, personality disorders, etc. I’ve read that if that’s your primary interest, the LPC route may make more sense and that much of the LCSW education will be irrelevant to you.

But, the LCSW route seems like it pays better, there’s lower hour requirements for licensure in my state (VA – it’s 3k supervised for LCSW and 3.5k for LPC). The LCSW programs are also shorter (2 years) vs LPC (2.5 – 3 years).

It sort of seems that from a practical perspective – it would be a no-brainer to pursue the LCSW route – but I guess I’d be worried that I’d be short-changing myself on the education.

Any advice?

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