Overview of Guidance Counselor Continuing Education Programs

Guidance counselors help students address a variety of problems. To help guidance counselors stay knowledgeable, many states require them to complete additional education requirements before they can renew their license. Read this article to learn more about continuing education options.

Guidance counselors can find a variety of continuing education options that are available on-site and online. Here we discuss some of the different program options and how they can apply towards licensing.

Program Information

Continuing education programs for guidance counselors are needed in order to renew their licenses in many states. The specific details of the programs vary from state to state. Some programs focus on coursework that is worth semester or quarter units. In that case, guidance counselors have to complete a minimum number of units before they are eligible to renew their license. Coursework may cover topics designed for various specializations, such as bullying prevention specialists or grief and loss specialists. Other programs are more workshop-focused. For these types of programs, guidance counselors have to complete a certain number of workshop hours. Workshops may be given through full-day trainings covering topics ranging from cyber bullying to academic counseling.

Continuing education opportunities are available from organizations, such as the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), as well as colleges and universities. Some training can be completed entirely online. More information is available here.

Programs at a Glance

Center for Professional and Continuing Education Online Courses

  • These graduate level courses vary in length depending on the chosen course.
  • All courses are available online.

Graduate School of Education: Continuing Education School Counseling Courses

  • Portland State University's Graduate School of Education offers various graduate level courses that vary in length.
  • These courses are available on-campus.


One way for guidance counselors to earn continuing education credits is to attend workshops that are as short as one day. These usually take place at an educational institution or an organization and may lead to college credit in some cases as well. Workshops typically focus on a single topic, which might include mental health issues, academic counseling, laws applying to guidance counselors, suicide risk assessment, nurturing student motivation, technology use for counselors, cyber bullying, and high-risk students and families. These workshops are appropriate for school counselors in public or private schools at all levels.


Online and on-campus courses can also lead to continuing education units. Counselors may take courses in bullying to learn about ways to make schools safer by preventing bullying and reacting appropriately when it occurs. They might also choose to take a course that helps them better counsel students who have dealt with trauma and have learning-related issues. Courses can range in length and typically include tests or quizzes for assessment.

Some courses additionally lead to designations. For example, the ASCA offers several designations for guidance counselors. They are suitable for both experienced and new counselors and lead to five continuing education units or 50 contact hours. These designations include but are not limited to school counseling leadership specialist, legal and ethical specialist, and bullying prevention specialist.

Journal Articles and Webinars

Attending workshops and taking courses aren't the only ways to get continuing education credit. Guidance counselors can get credit for reading online journal articles on related topics and taking quizzes on what they read. They can also attend online webinars and take a quiz to get credit. Each article or webinar is worth 0.1 CEUs or 1 contact hour.

Reasons for Continuing Education

These requirements are in place so guidance counselors remain up to date on the current theories and approaches to counseling. Since the needs of students and ways to approach these needs are frequently changing, it is helpful to be aware of new social concerns. It can also help guidance counselors become academically involved with other counselors, thus, helping other counselors learn more. Through these connections, guidance counselors can build a support system in case they need to ask for suggestions on how to approach certain counseling situations.

Determining Continuing Education Requirements

Because continuing education requirements vary, guidance counselors may want to check with a state educational department. There are also websites that discuss these requirements such as the ASCA's website. This website provides a general outline of requirements and the website of each state's education department. Guidance counselors may want to check frequently with their state's educational department because requirements may change.

Guidance counselors can choose from several online or on-site program options for furthering their education, including courses, workshops, webinars and more. Students should be aware that requirements vary by state and program, so they may need to complete some of their own research to find a program best suited for them.

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