School Counselor Certification in Georgia

In Georgia, school counseling is considered a service field. Georgia school counselors are certified by the Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) for service with students in preschool through grade twelve. The credential is granted on the basis of education and examination.

There are alternate pathways to certification. There are also multiple levels of credentialing. In 2014, Georgia implemented a tiered certification system with induction and professional level certification. An induction certificate or nonrenewable professional certificate can be issued at employer request to a school counselor who lacks some requirements.

Capella University offers three online CACREP- accredited master's programs: School Counseling (Also Accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy. Click here to contact Capella University and request information about their programs.

NYU Steinhardt's online MA in Counseling and Guidance, [email protected], prepares aspiring school counselors to become transformative leaders and critical resources for pre-K-12 students in public and private schools across the country. Request information.

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Georgia School Counselor Educational Requirements

Georgia school counselors hold master's degrees. There is more than one pathway. Individuals can be assured of meeting requirements if they enroll in programs that are specifically approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. Approved programs meet standards in Commission rule (http://www.gapsc.com/Rules/Current/EducatorPreparation/505-3-.01.pdf). Students must meet entry standards set by the state.

Prospective students can search for Georgia-approved programs online (http://www.gapsc.com/EducatorPreparation/ApprovedPrograms/EducationApprovedPrograms.aspx).

Students can also qualify on the basis of out-of-state master's programs in school counseling. Programs must be housed in accredited institutions and approved by the appropriate state agency. In order to be certification-qualifying, an educator program must hold accreditation by some agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the U.S. Department of Education (http://www.gapsc.com/ProspectiveEducator/acceptedAccredition.aspx). The Commission notes that online programs must hold approval in their own state.

Out-of-state candidates will need to ensure that they meet state-specific requirements. Georgia requires school counselors to have coursework in special education or "the exceptional child". The Commission notes that courses go by many names and that many out-of-state candidates will have met this requirement. Those who are unsure of the acceptability of a particular course can email 'mail at gapsc.com'.

Alternative Educational Pathways

Individuals who hold Georgia Licensed Professional Counselor credentials are considered to have met educational requirements. Those who hold National Certified School Counselor (NCSC) credentialing through the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) are also considered to have met the requirement.

Examination Requirements

Georgia school counselors typically take two examinations en route to certification. One measures content knowledge; the other, basic skills. The basic skills test is the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) Basic Assessment. It may be required as part of the admission process.

The content examination is the GACE School Counseling Examination, developed by the Professional Standards Commission in cooperation with Educational Testing Service (ETS). There are two separate tests, which a candidate can opt to take in the same testing session. The first assesses school counseling foundations and management. The second assesses service delivery and accountability. A study guide is available on the ETS website (http://gace.ets.org/prepare/materials/603). Candidates can also purchase interactive practice tests.

Students enrolled in Georgia-approved programs will take the content examination at the appropriate stage of the program. Other candidates will need to meet eligibility requirements (http://www.gapsc.com/Certification/testEligibility.aspx). They will create accounts and indicate a reason for testing (http://gace.ets.org/register/steps/reasons_for_testing). Registration can be carried out online. The combined test costs $193 (http://gace.ets.org/about/fees).

Scores are reported to the certification agency and school and to other recipients selected by the candidate. At the end of a GACE testing session, the candidate will have the option of reporting or cancelling scores (http://gace.ets.org/scores). Candidates who opt to have their scores reported will immediately get to see their unofficial results.

The Commission references two levels at which the examination can be passed: the induction level and the professional level.

The Application Process

Application forms can be downloaded from the GaPSC website (http://www.gapsc.com/Certification/ApplicationProcedures.aspx).

Applicants must include official transcripts of all coursework completed at U.S. universities. If coursework was completed through a school outside the United States, the candidate will instead submit a credential evaluation.

Applicants will verify lawful presence in the United States.

Individuals who have worked full-time as educators will also submit experience verification forms.

Applicants who answer ‘yes’ to screening questions will need to provide supporting documentation (http://www.gapsc.com/Ethics/ProfessionalEthicsBackgroundCheck.aspx). Georgia utilizes the NASDTEC National Clearinghouse database for additional background screening.

Some applications carry a $20 transaction fee. The fee may be waived on the basis of having completed a Georgia educator program or having qualifying Georgia employment.

Out-of-State School Counselors

GaPSC has prepared application instructions for out-of-state educators (http://www.gapsc.com/MovetoGeorgia/outOfStateEducators.aspx). Candidates are directed to submit copies of all professional educator credentials.

An out-of-state school counseling certificate can be accepted in lieu of evidence of having met educational requirements (http://www.gapsc.com/Certification/CertFieldsAndEndorsements/service.aspx).

Some out-of-state candidates are exempted from content examinations. Exemption may be granted to educators who passed a content examination in their own state or who have been employed for five continuous years (http://www.gapsc.com/Certification/CertificationLicensureAssessments/contentAssessments.aspx). Certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is also accepted as evidence that content has been mastered.

Induction Certificates and Nonrenewable Professional Certificates in School Counseling

Nonrenewable professional certificates are issued only at the request of an employer (http://www.gapsc.com/Rules/Current/Certification/505-2-.144.pdf). They can be issued to professionals who have completed master's degrees in other counseling fields and have been accepted into school counseling programs. They can also be issued to otherwise qualified candidates who completed school counseling programs at the bachelor's level or are certified in another state on the basis of bachelor's level education.

Induction certificates are also issued at employer request. They can be issued to qualifying master’s degree holders who have been accepted into school counseling programs and who meet other requirements set by the state. The master’s degree may be in social work or in a counseling field. The candidate will need to pass the content examination at at least the induction level.

The induction certificate can also be issued to an individual who has met the standard academic requirements but has passed the examination at the lower (induction) level.

Additional Information

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission (http://www.gapsc.com/Certification/Home.aspx) can be reached by telephone at (800) 869-7775. During November through April, email addressed to ‘mail at gapsc.com’ is generally answered within two business days. During peak months, it may take five.

The Georgia School Counselors Association (http://www.gaschoolcounselors.com) is the state’s professional organization; it does not certify school counselors but provides additional services such as professional development and mentoring.

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