The job of a school counselor has taken on much greater significance over the past three decades. Today, school counselors often have much more to contend with than a child who is struggling with homework. Today, counselors are often asked to be advocates, defenders, psychologists, and more for their students.
School counselors require a certain level of education. This helps to ensure that they know how to best help their students. In most states, it is required that future school counselors complete a Master’s degree. Most choose to pursue a Master’s in school counseling. However, some states allow students to obtain a different degree. For example, in Illinois, a person can obtain a Master’s degree in a related field like psychology. Usually, states that offer this option require that the student takes additional courses that focus on working with students and the job of a school counselor.
In Kansas and Connecticut, it is further required that the future school counselor holds a professional teaching license before applying to be a school counselor. Other states also allow those who have been licensed as teachers to apply to become school counselors. Similar to those with Master’s degrees in other disciplines, current teachers will be asked to take coursework in school counseling to apply for the job.
Most states have requirements for school counselors to complete either hours of observation, a direct internship working with students, or both. By doing this, the future school counselors understand the types of work they will be doing and gain practice working directly with students.
States that have experience requirements often set them based on a semester, a school year, or a set number of hours. Idaho, for example, requires 700 hours of fieldwork and further requires that seventy-five percent of it takes place in the K-12 classroom. In Mississippi, a full school year internship is required. This can be waived if the applicant is already a licensed classroom teacher in the state.
Some states do not have requirements for experience. West Virginia, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Maine, and New Jersey have no requirements for internships or work experience, Many other states do not require experience if the applicant is already a licensed teacher or has classroom teaching experience.
Wisconsin, Virginia, North Dakota, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Maryland, Kentucky, Iowa, Idaho, Connecticut, Arizona, and Alaska require no set examination to become a school counselor. Other states require a mix of the Praxis school counselor exam and state-based tests.
Because school counselors work directly with students, it is important to make sure that they are safe to do so. Therefore, most states require the applicant to get a full background check, or at least fingerprinting, to ensure that they will not be a danger to their future students. This may be required to apply for certification or when a person is actually hired as a school counselor. Oklahoma and West Virginia do not require background checks, though individual districts within Oklahoma can require them.
It is important to remember that requirements are always changing, so if you are interested in becoming a school counselor, check your state’s Department of Education website for the most up-to-date information.
School Counselor Experience
Institutional Recommendation Required
Criminal Background Investigation
Educational Requirements And Assessment
|Alabama||Required||Not required||Required||P–12||Yes||Requirement: GPA 3.25 minimum, 100+ hours practice, inc. 40+ counseling EC/secondary school learners. Assessment: Must meet state Praxis requirements|
|Alaska||Not required||Required||Required||K–12||Yes||Requirement: Bachelor’s degree or higher and completion of a teacher education program. 3 semester hours in Alaska studies, 3 semester hours in multicultural education or communication, six semester hours or nine quarters of credit earned within the last five years. Assessment: None|
|Arizona||Required||Required||Required||K–12||Yes||Requirement: Master’s degree followed by a graduate degree specializing in school counseling, or Master’s degree from an accredited institution in academic advising. Assessment: None|
|Arkansas||Not required||Required||Required||K–12||Yes||Requirement: Master's degree in school counseling, and guidance from an approved institution; or master’s degree in a mental health area. Assessment: Guidance/Counseling (K–12) (Initial License), Praxis requirements, Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades.|
|California||Required||Required||Required||K–12||Yes||Requirement: Bachelor’s degree followed by a graduate degree specializing in school counseling. 48 semester units and an in-school practicum experience. Assessment: Basic Skills Requirement, PPS Credentials.|
|Colorado||Required||Required||Required||0–21||Yes||Requirement: Master's degree or higher in school counseling; or Master's or higher degree in a clinical counseling domain. Assessment: Praxis 5421.|
|Connecticut||Required||Required||Required||K–12||Yes||Requirement: Master’s degree in school counseling. 30 semester hours in planned program in school counseling service, 36 clock hours in special education. Assessment: None|
|Delaware||Required||Required||Required||Elementary: 1–6 Secondary: 9–12||Yes||Requirement: Master’s degree in elementary or secondary school counseling. 39 credits of graduate course work in areas that include school counseling, child develpement and behavior and related fields. Assessment: Must meet state Praxis requirements.|
|Florida||Not required||Not required||Required||Pre-K–12||Yes||Requirement: Master's or higher with a graduate major in guidance and counseling and three semester hours in a supervised counseling practicum in an elementary or secondary school. Assessment: Professional Education Test; GKTE|
|Georgia||Not required||Required||Required||K–12||Yes||Requirement: Master’s degree or higher in school counseling; Special education–coursework. Assessment: GACE content knowledge assessment at the professional level.|
|Hawaii||Required||Required||Required||Pre-K–12||Yes||Requirement: Master’s degree in school counseling and guidance from a regionally accredited college or University. Assessment: Must meet state Praxis requirements.|
|Idaho||Required||Required||Required||Grades K–12||Yes||Requirement: Master’s degree and completion of an approved program of graduate study in school guidance and counseling from a college/university; six semester credit hours within the last five years. Idaho Code allows certificated school social workers to be employed as elementary school counselors without any credential change. Assessment: None|
|Illinois||Required||Required||Required||Pre-K–12||Yes||Requirement: Master’s degree or higher in school counselin or related field, completed an Illinois program approved for the preparation of school counselors, completed a supervised counseling practicum of at least 100 clock hours. Assessment: ISBE Examination for School Counseling.|
|Indiana||Required||Required||Required||Pre-K–12||Yes||Requirement: Master’s degree in school counseling or related field. Assessment: Yes, for initial license|
|Iowa||Required||Required||Required||Grades 7–12||No||Requirement: Master’s degree; ompletion of an approved human relations and exceptional learner component; teaching and counseling practicum (at either the K-6 or 7-12 level) consisting of a minimum of 500 contact hours. Assessment: None|
|Kansas||Required||Required||Required||Pre-K–12||No||Requirement: Master’s degree with a 3.25 cumulative GPA in graduate coursework. Assessment: Praxis II: School Guidance Counseling, minimum 600.|
|Kentucky||Required||Not required||Required||K–12||Yes||Requirement: Master’s degree in guidance counseling. Assessment: None|
|Louisiana||Required||Required||Required||K–12||No||Requirement: Master’s degree in guidance and counseling from a regionally accredited institution or a master’s degree with the equivalent hours and courses in school counseling. Assessment: NTE Core Battery, NTE Specialty Area Exam in school counseling|
|Maine||Not required||Required||Required||K–12||Yes||Requirement: Master’s degree in guidance counseling. For 1 year conditional certificate: bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Matriculated into an approved program for school counselor education, or current enrollment in graduate coursework for school counselor education. Assessment: Must meet state Praxis requirements|
|Maryland||Required||Not required||Required||Pre-K–12||Yes||Requirement: Master's degree in school counseling or school guidance and counseling and NBCC certificate, or approved program that includes 500 hours in a supervised practicum, or a program approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Program,or professional school counseling certificate from another state. Assessment: None|
|Massachusetts||Required||Required||Required||Elementary: Pre-K–8 Secondary: 5–12||Yes||Requirement: Master’s degree with a major in counseling, a practicum of 450 hours in an educational setting and required coursework. Assessment: Massachusetts Communication and Literacy Skills Test|
|Michigan||Required||Required||Required||K–12 K–8 6–12||Yes||Requirement: School Counselor Endorsement, or School Counselor License, or master’s degree from an approved program in school counseling. Assessment: Michigan Test for Teacher Certification – School Counselor (NT) exam|
|Minnesota||Required||Not required||Required||K–12||No||Requirement: Master's degree or the equivalen and completing a Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board preparation program, completed a preparation program in school counseling accredited by CACREP. Assessment: None|
|Mississippi||See notes||Not required||Required||K–12||Yes||Requirement: Standard teaching license and a master’s degree in guidance and counseling; or Master’s degree in another area and completion of an approved program for guidance and counseling. Experience required if applicant does not already hold a MS teaching certificate. Assessment: Must meet state Praxis requirements.|
|Missouri||Required||Required||Required||Elementary: K–8 Secondary: 7–12||Yes||Requirement: Master’s degree with a major in counselin, meeting approval of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; completion of a planned program of at least 42 semester hours of approved graduate credit in courses in school counseling with at least 12 semester hours focused upon school counseling. Assessment: Missouri School Counselor Content Assessment with a score of 220 or higher and the School Counselor Candidate Assessment.|
|Montana||Required||Required||Required||K–12||Yes||Requirement: Completion of a CACREP-accredited school counselor program, or master’s degree in school counseling. Assessment: Must meet state Praxis requirements.|
|Nebraska||Required||Not required||Required||K–12 K–6 4–9 7–12||No||Requirement: Master's degree in school counseling with at least 36 semester graduate hours. Assessment: Must meet state Praxis requirements; Content Mastery Exam for Education–Basic Skills Test (CMEEBST): Minimum Score of 850.|
|Nevada||Required||Not required||Required||K–12||Yes||Requirement: Master’s or more advanced degree in school counseling; specialty credential as a National Certified School Counselor issued by the National Board for Certified Counselors or master’s or more advanced degree with a major in counseling conferred by a regionally accredited college or university. Assessment: Praxis – professional school counselor.|
|New Hampshire||Required||Not required||Required||K–12||Yes||Requirement: Master's degree or higher in school counseling, or master's degree in a closely related counseling field and documents/demonstrates that they have also acquired the competencies, skills, and knowledge that they would have gained if they had graduated from a NHDOE approved graduate program in school counseling. Assessment: None|
|New Jersey||Not required||Required||Required||K–12||Yes||Requirement: Master's degree or higher in school counseling, an emergency certificate upon the request of the county superintendent to a candidate with bachelor’s degree, and required coursework. Assessment: None|
|New Mexico||Required||Not required||Required||K–12||No||Requirement: National certified school counselor credentials, licensed professional mental health counselor (LPC) or licensed professional clinical mental health counselor (LPCC) credentials, and a minimum of six semester hours of graduate credit in school counseling coursework, or a master’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Assessment: New Mexico Content Knowledge Assessment for School Counselor.|
|New York||Required||Required||Required||Pre-K–12||Yes||Requirement: Completion of a NY registered school counseling program, or Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution and at least 30 semester hours of approved graduate study in the field of school counseling, or Be Nationally certified as a school counselor by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). Completion of a Child Abuse Identification and a school violence prevention and intervention Workshop. Assessment: None|
|North Carolina||Not required||Not required||Required||K–12||Yes||Requirement: Master's degree or higher in school counseling and coursework determined by the institute of higher education approved school counseling program. Assessment: Praxis: Professional School Counselor 5421.|
|North Dakota||Required||Required||Required||K–12||No||Requirement: Master's degree or higher in school counseling and coursework determined by the institute of higher education approved school counseling program. Assessment: None|
|Ohio||Required||Required||Required||K–12||No||Requirement: Master’s degree from an approved program of preparation and internship consisting of 600 contact hours in a school setting. Assessment: Ohio Assessment for Educators (OAE) School Counselor Test #040.|
|Oklahoma||Not required||Required||Not required||Pre-K–12||Yes||Requirement: Master's degree or higher in school counseling, or Master's degree or higher in related field. Assessment: Oklahoma Subject Area Test in School Counseling.|
|Oregon||Required||Required||Required||Pre-K–12||Yes||Requirement: Master's degree or higher in school counseling or related field, or a bachelor’s degree and completion in Oregon or another U.S. jurisdiction, as part of the master’s degree or separately, of an initial graduate program in school counseling and required coursework. Assessment: Minimum of 610 on the Praxis Test of School Guidance and Counseling.|
|Pennsylvania||Required||Required||Required||Elementary: K–6 Secondary: 7–12||Yes||Requirement: Completion of an approved program in school counseling. Supervised counseling practicum experiences, prior to and separate from the field experience, providing direct service with individuals and groups (60 clock hours). Assessment: Professional School Counseling Praxis.|
|Rhode Island||Required||Not required||Required||K–12||Yes||Requirement: Advanced degree from a regionally accredited institution, ompletion of an approved program for the preparation of school counselor support professional and completion of 300-hour Internship. Assessment: Praxis II Professional School Counselor test (5421) with a score of 156.|
|South Carolina||Not required||Not required||Required||K–12||Yes||Requirement: Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s degree in any subject and ompletion of an advanced program for the preparation of school counselors. Assessment: Must meet state Praxis requirements.|
|South Dakota||Required||Not required||Required||Pre-K–12||No||Requirement: Master's degree in school guidance or counseling, or master's degree or higher in counseling and passage of the state-designated school counselor test and one year of supervision by a mentor school counselor. One clock hour of suicide awareness and prevention training. Assessment: Praxis II Professional School Counselor (5421).|
|Tennessee||Required||Required||Required||Pre-K–12||Yes||Requirement: graduate degree with an approved preparation program in school guidance and counseling or graduate degree in community/agency counseling and must be enrolled in a approved graduate program in school counseling and has completed at least 30 hours leading to completion of an approved graduate program in school counseling. Assessment: Praxis II: School Guidance & Counseling, Minimum 580.|
|Texas||Required||Not required||Required||Pre-K–12||No||Requirement: Master’s degree and completetion a school counselor preparation program. Assessment: Minimum score of 240 on School Counselor Exam (TExES #152).|
|Utah||Required||Required||Required||K–12||No||Requirement: Completion of an accredited counselor education program. Assessment: Praxis.|
|Vermont||Required||Not required||Required||Pre-K–12||Yes||Requirement: Master’s degree in school counseling or its equivalent. Assessment: Must meet state Praxis requirements.|
|Virginia||Required||Not required||Required||Pre-K–12||No||Requirement: Master's degree from an approved counselor education program. Assessment: None|
|Washington||Required||Not required||Required||K–12||Yes||Requirement: Master's degree in counseling, completion of an issues of abuse course, completion of a suicide prevention training. Assessment: Must meet state Praxis requirements.|
|West Virginia||Not required||Not required||Not required||Pre-K–Adult||Yes||Requirement: Master's degree from an approved counselor education program. Assessment: Praxis II Professional School Counselor Examination (5421) score of 156.|
|Wisconsin||Required||Required||Required||K –12||No||Requirement: Master's degree from an approved counselor education program. Assessment: None|
|Wyoming||Required||Not required||Required||K –12||Yes||Requirement: Master's degree from an approved counselor education program, or master’s degree with at least 30 semester credits in approved school counseling and guidance coursework. Assessment: Knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and the Wyoming Constitution either through coursework or an exam.|