School Counselor Certification in New York

New York school counselors are certified by the New York State Education Department (NYSED). The counseling credential is classified as pupil personnel services. It authorizes service with students from pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade.

Educational Requirements for Provisional School Counseling Certification

Provisional certification is based on meeting educational requirements. The most direct path is to complete a school counseling program that is registered with the New York State Education Department. The Department has provided a directory to search for State-approved programs (http://www.nysed.gov/heds/IRPSL1.html).

School counselors can also be certified on the basis of individual evaluation of transcripts. The student will need, at minimum, a baccalaureate degree and 30 semester hours of qualifying graduate coursework; to be credited, school counseling coursework must be taken through a college that offers a school counseling program.

There is no set list of required courses. However, NYSED has provided a list of sample approved courses. Among the offerings are psychology of learning, vocational guidance, and counseling theory and practice (http://eservices.nysed.gov/teach/certhelp/ReqDescription.do?metaValueId=473&catGrpId=null&crcId=13&WIN_TYPE=null). Up to six semester hours of rehabilitation counseling may be credited.

The prospective school counselor must have an internship. It must be completed in a school setting under university supervision.

An individual who does not complete a program that is specifically approved to operate within New York will need to complete state-mandated training sessions. NYSED requires two clock hours of child abuse training (http://www.op.nysed.gov/training/caproviders.htm). The Department has provided a list of approved providers in different regions of the state (http://www.op.nysed.gov/training/caproviders.htm). The counselor will also need two hours of approved training in school violence prevention and intervention and six clock hours in dignity for all. Candidates are directed to save the certificates they receive for attendance; these will be submitted at the time of application.

There are two levels of certification: provisional and permanent. The permanent certificate is dependent on experience. Educational requirements are also set higher.

Board certification is an alternative method for experienced school counselors to show that requirements have been met.

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Achieving Permanent Certification

The higher certificate is dependent on accruing two years of paid experience. Experience in pupil services personnel fields other than school counseling may be credited. However, the Office of Teaching Initiatives notes that experience in other areas of education (such as classroom teaching) cannot be credited (http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/faqcertpp.html).

A school counselor who was certified on the basis of a bachelor’s degree and 30 graduate semester hours will need to complete a master’s program before permanent certification can be awarded. The credentialing agency will expect another 30 semester hours of graduate coursework. There are many possibilities, ranging from domestic violence to the nature and needs of gifted students. The Department has provided a list of possible courses (http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/certificate/sc.html); it includes those that would have to be taken as part of a school counseling or pupil services program to be credited and those that could be taken through other accredited schools. An additional six semester hours of rehabilitation coursework can be credited at this level.

In order to be issued a permanent certificate, the personnel services professional must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.

Alternate Pathway: Board Certification

NYSED will accept certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards as evidence that educational requirements have been met at at least the provisional level. A board certified school counselor who provides evidence of having attained a master’s degree and 60 total hours of qualifying graduate coursework can be granted permanent certification.

There are two components to the National Board assessment process. Candidates must take an examination. They are also required to prepare a portfolio to show how the standards are translated into actual school counseling practice. Candidates can visit the NBPTS website to view school counseling standards and learn about the application process (http://boardcertifiedteachers.org/certificate-areas).

Board-certified school counselors are required to pursue state-specific trainings in school violence, child abuse identification, and dignity for all.

Background Check Requirement

Prospective New York educators must complete fingerprint-based criminal background checks through the Division of Criminal Justice Services and the FBI (http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/ospra).

Applicants may request fingerprinting cards from the Office of School Personnel Review and Accountability (OSPRA) if they do not get them from their school counseling program or from a local school district or BOCES (http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tsei/ospra/packets.html).

Fingerprints can be rolled or scanned at a number of locations, including police stations and school districts. The Education Department notes that processing through Livescan is quicker than processing traditional inked cards. Individuals are advised to call ahead to make sure the site provides the desired service.

The applicant will apply online for fingerprint clearance. There is a $89.75 fee.

The fingerprint cards will be mailed to the fingerprint processing division, along with payment confirmation or payment coupon. Individuals will use the following address:

Fingerprint Processing
NYS Education Department
PO Box 7352, Albany, NY 12224

Professionals who had fingerprint-based background checks for the New York City Board of Education (NYCBOE) will not need to repeat the process provided that the results are on file (http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tsei/ospra/nycprovisions.html). The NYS applicant may download an OSPRA 104 form from the NYSED website.

The Application Process

Candidates may apply online through TEACH educational services (http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/certificate/apply.html). Applications can also be submitted through the mail.

A student who completes a New York State approved program can expect an institutional recommendation from the school. An individual applying on the basis of institutional recommendation will typically have a shorter application process.

Processing times vary, but the Department advises individuals to submit materials three to four months in advance of the time that certification is required. Applications may be submitted before fingerprint clearance is received.

Application status may be monitored online.

Additional Information

The New York State Education Department is the source of current information about school counselor certification. Teacher Certification can be reached by online contact form (http://www.nysed.gov/contact-NYSED) or by telephone at (518) 474-3901. There are two levels of certification: Provisional and Permanent (http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/faqcertpp.html)

The New York State School Counselor Association is an additional professional resource (http://nyssca.org). NYSSCA does not issue credentials but has provided resources such as answers to frequently asked questions about annual performance reviews (http://www.nysut.org/resources/all-listing/2012/june/faq--appr-for-school-counselors).

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