How to Become a Licensed School Counselor

A school counselor has the necessary professional training to support and guide students of all ages, mainly when going through social, personal, and academic issues. School counselors are social people who are cooperative, generous, patient, caring, empathetic, helpful, friendly, and tactful.

An excellent school counselor should be a good listener, communicator, authoritative, and able to assess the learners. Getting certified as a school counselor shows that you’ve met the required training, education, and experience requirements. However, the school counselor certification standards vary from one state to another. This article entails how to become a licensed school counselor.

1.   Earn a master’s degree

Before enrolling for a school counseling program, you must earn a bachelor’s degree in a related field, including psychology, education, or social work. This will give you a strong foundation for further studies. While a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for becoming a school counselor, some states may also need a graduate-level degree. If you go for an undergraduate degree in education, you can work with children to complete field experiences. This can help you determine if school counseling is your right career choice.

2.   Get a master’s degree in school counseling

A master’s degree in school counseling from accredited institutions is essential to becoming a certified school counselor. The coursework in the program may cover counseling theories, human development, addiction counseling, counseling techniques, and behavior and learning disorders. You may also learn how to offer multicultural counseling, implement a counseling program, and offer intervention and prevention counseling.

Other states may need you to finish an accredited program to ensure the coursework you get attains the requirements and standards required to become a practicing school counselor. Check if your state requires you to complete such programs. An excellent school counselor degree program should have flexible study alternatives like hybrid and online learning, developed in reference to ASCA national model, high exam pass rates, and the course should focus on today’s learners and their schools.

3.   Complete clinical hours

Completing a minimum amount of supervised clinical hours is a significant part of your master’s degree in counseling. You can work in different school settings or a community offering counseling services under a licensed and experienced school counselor or mental health professional. The clinical hours you’ll need for certification differ by state. Familiarize yourself with your state’s clinical hours requirement and complete as required.

4.   Pass an exam

To work as a counselor in a public school, most states need you to pass an exam before obtaining the school counseling license or certificate. To become a licensed school counselor, your state may require you to pass a state-specific test or a school guidance counseling exam. Other states may have additional requirements, such as completing a background check or getting a recommendation letter from your college or university.

Since different states have varying licensure requirements for becoming a school counselor, it’s best to know the precise requirements from your state board. You may also consider getting national board certification to advance your career.

5.   Take continuing education courses

Upon attaining the school counselor certification, you must take continuing education lessons to renew or maintain your licensure. The requirements for continuing education differ by state.


As a school counselor, you help students overcome barriers hindering their social, emotional, and educational goals. Follow these steps to become a licensed school counselor.