Guidance Counselor Certification and Certificate Program Info

In guidance counselor certificate programs, students learn about an array of counseling concepts, principles and issues through direct-experience practica and traditional coursework.

Essential Information

Guidance counselor certificate programs are geared towards post-master's students preparing for a credential exam or pursuing a career as a guidance counselor; more commonly referred to as a school counselor. Curriculum is usually 1-10 courses long and focuses on the development of counseling theory, social awareness, diversity and ethics. Direct experience is gained through clinical hours. Distance or online learning options are available. Applicants must have a master's degree and submit college transcripts, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, a resume and a personal statement. Those with relevant volunteer or work experience will have an advantage.

  • Program Fields: School counseling
  • Prerequisites: A master's degree and the submission of academic transcripts, standardized exam scores, reference letters, a resume and a statement of intent.
  • Online Availability: Many programs are available online
  • Program Length: 1-10 courses long
  • Other Requirements: Completion of a clinical practicum for graduation.

Guidance Counselor Certification

Students in these programs can expect a combination of didactic learning and theory application in their classes. Some examples of core courses are:

  • Counseling theory
  • Family dynamics
  • Group counseling
  • Career counseling
  • Psychology of human development

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment for school and career counselors will grow at a rate of 12% between 2012 and 2022. The mean annual salary for these professionals was $56,040, as of May 2014 (

Continuing Education

Depending on the state in which a counselor plans to work, he or she may need certification or licensure. Some states have special school counselor credentials, while other states specifically mandate a teacher certification. To obtain licensure, potential counselors must complete state education requirements. Additionally, the voluntary and internationally-recognized National Certified Counselor (NCC) designation can be acquired from the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), which may enhance job prospects (

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