Five Certifications for Guidance Counselors

Guidance Counselor Certifications

  • Local Teaching License
  • Provisional Certification
  • State Guidance Counseling License
  • State Guidance Counseling License
  • Special Education Credentials

School advisors fill one of the most important roles in the modern education system, which is one of the reasons that they are expected to obtain several guidance counselor certifications before entering the field. These professionals help guide students and parents towards solutions that allow them to thrive in an academic environment. They monitor the student body as a whole and track individual progress to gauge the efficacy of the facility’s programs and environment.

Local Teaching License

The exact education and certification requirements for guidance counselors depends on the state where they seek employment. However, most jurisdictions within the United States require prospective counselors to obtain a general teaching license before pursuing further credentials. This certification requires a bachelor’s or master’s degree in education, usually with minimum coursework requirements in several key subjects.

Once applicants have finished their primary education for a teaching degree, they must take an approved exam and complete several other steps in an application process to receive a license. Some states allow applicants to forego certain sections of the test depending on their educational background. Anyone interested in obtaining a state teaching certification should carefully examine local requirements and laws so they are fully prepared.

Provisional Certification

In some states, provisional certification is a temporary license to fill the role of guidance counselor in a public school environment. This type of provisional license may allow practitioners to avoid the necessity for obtaining an advanced degree on top of their current education. For example, the state of New York allows applicants to serve as counselors on a provisional basis for at least a year instead of getting a master’s degree.

Provisional guidance counselor certifications allow new counselors to gain practical experience under supervision from the appropriate authorities. Counselors who perform adequately and meet all of the other requirements can move to obtain a full state license after the trial period is over.

State Guidance Counseling License

A state guidance counseling license allows individuals to fully serve as counselors in elementary, middle and high schools. Many states require counselors to have a master’s degree from an accredited institution in order to apply for a license. In some cases, applicants are expected to have maintained a certain grade point average or completed specific courses during their education.

Some regions allow professionals to pursue a license through multiple pathways with comparable educational and experience requirements. State certifications are renewed periodically through an examination and application process. Prospective guidance counselors can also expect to submit to a detailed background check before receiving their license.

National Board (NCSC) Certification

Even though the requirements for guidance counselors are created and enforced on the state level, professionals can seek national accreditation through voluntary participation in the National Board for Certified Counselors (NCSC). The organization has a history dating back to 1983 and currently has over 60,000 members across the country. Professional guidance counselors who are interested in becoming certified by the NCSC can learn more on the organization’s website.

Special Education Credentials

Much like teachers, guidance counselors can specialize their degree to focus on certain age groups, learning disabilities or other specific issues in their field. Individuals who pursue additional or advanced degrees can pursue certification for their expertise on the state level.

School counselors are the cornerstone of the student support network in any school or institute of higher learning. There are significant educational requirements for most guidance counselor certifications, which means individuals interested in pursuing a career in the field should carefully consider local requirements before setting a path towards their goal.

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