School Counseling Certification and Certificate Programs

A Master of Arts in School Counseling degree program can prepare graduates to become counselors in elementary, middle, and secondary schools. A career in public school counseling generally calls for a master's degree and state certification.

Essential Information

Students in master's-level school counseling programs develop skills in consultation, collaboration, advocacy and leadership. Courses usually cover subjects such as human growth and development, individual and group counseling, testing and appraisal, and career development.

  • Program Level in School Counseling: Master's degree; state certification
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree, with emphasis in psychology, behavioral sciences or education; transcripts; personal letter from applicant; letters of recommendation; possibly GRE or Miller Analogy Test; GPA of 3.0 or better.
  • Other Requirements: Internship; practicum in a school setting; background check.

School Counseling Certification

Studies in psychology, psychopathology, individual and group counseling, and human development are complemented by study of the following:

  • Child and adolescent therapy
  • Inclusive education
  • Career counseling
  • Counseling theories and techniques

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

School counselors are usually employed by elementary, middle and secondary schools, as well as by colleges and universities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (, employment of school and career counselors is expected to increase by 12% for the years 2012 through 2022. The BLS reported in 2014 that school, educational, guidance and vocational counselors earned a median annual salary of $53,370.

Certification and Licensing Information

State certification often requires a passing grade in the PRAXIS I test in reading, writing and mathematics, as well as the PRAXIS II test in school counseling. However, it should be noted that every state has different licensing and/or certification requirements.

Because school counselors work with children and adolescents, 45 states require that candidates be subjected to a criminal background check, fingerprinting or that they complete a background form such as the Character and Identification Clearance application in California. Colorado arranges for candidates to be checked by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The only states that do not require background or fingerprint checks are Massachusetts, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Virginia and West Virginia.

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