How Do You Become a School Counselor?

Knowing the exact steps to take and all of the requirements involved makes knowing how to become a school counselor much easier. If you’ve decided this is the career for you, you’ve chosen a promising career, steeped in the reward of helping others. Before you can enjoy the rewards however, you must earn your way to the prize first. Here, we discuss the basics of how to become a school counselor.

Know State Requirements

To begin with, it is important to be aware of the fact that there is no universal requirements structure for becoming a school counselor. Each state has its own individual requirements asked of those entering the profession. There are many similarities between the states as well as reciprocity among states, accepting credentials earned in outside states. However, you must know the state’s requirements for which you will most likely be working in the future.

The following are representative of such common state requirements and can be found at the American School Counselor Association website:

  • Master’s degree in counselor education or a very similar focus
  • In-school work experience, verifiable hour count
  • Successful examination through the National Board of Certified Counselors or other recognized organization
  • FBI and criminal background checks

Expected Course Work

As mentioned above, a master’s degree in counselor education is required in most states. One can expect this sort of degree to be backed by a basic foundation of core courses: math, english, and others. Outside of these core courses, the student will begin to take courses more directed at school counseling. Such courses will cover subjects like basic and advanced counseling techniques, psychology, sociology, education, diversity, culture, and other subjects of more acute relevance.


Outside of the college necessities, many must prepare for and eventually pass some form of examination. Again, this requirement does differ from state to state. The test may be provided through a college, or it may instituted via Praxis II or an organization such as the NBCC.

If you are facing an examination, contact the organization responsible for administering the test and find out what it takes to get ready. Study materials, prep resources, test requirements and sections, and dates and times are examples of what you will need to know. Being thoroughly prepared not only makes for a better result but also makes for a less stressful and surprise-filled experience.

Experience Requirements

Some states offer alternative requirements for those without experience. In most states however, verifiable experience working in a school setting is required. Someone without previous experience can begin by searching job ads for any listings of entry-level, educational work. Apply and make your goals clear to whomever you speak with.

Internship is another effective way in. In internship, an intern is taken in by a school or organization and is able to work alongside an established professional in the field. It is a combined work and educational experience that can fulfill experience requirements and even lead to full-time, future employment. Information on such internships is best found at colleges and schools in your area.

Related Resource: Become a School Psychologist

It is extremely helpful to understand each upcoming step in the process. Through this understanding, one has a much more solid footing on the path to the prize.