Becoming a Counselor in Missouri
In Missouri, professional counselors are licensed through the Committee for Professional Counselors. School counselors are certified at the master's level by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Although a professional counselor license is not a requirement to work in the schools, some candidates do opt for dual licensing.
CACREP Accredited Online Master's in Counseling Programs:
If you are a High School Student or have received your diploma/GED in Missouri:
You may select any field for your bachelor's, but do look ahead to see admission requirements at schools where you may pursue your graduate education. Some master’s programs specify a minimum number of units in the social sciences (for example, sociology or psychology). You may also need a course in statistics. Find undergraduate counseling and related program information here.
An education background can be an advantage for a prospective school counselor. If you do not complete an undergraduate program in education, you will have a few additional courses to complete before you can be licensed as a school counselor. Courses include class management, psychology of the exceptional child, and teaching methods.
A bachelor's degree in Psychology is common preparation for graduate school in the field of counseling.
Also seek some experience in the field. If your undergraduate program doesn't provide structured internship experiences, you may opt for volunteer or paid employment. You can find a list of volunteer ideas on the site of the Missouri Department of Mental Health. If you are planning to work in the schools, you may look for tutoring opportunities.
As you work, reflect on your experiences and evolving goals. This will provide material for your application essay or personal statement.
If you already hold a Bachelor’s Degree:
Begin the application process early. Look for three references who can speak to your ability to succeed as a student and counselor.
If you are interested in school counseling, you should enroll in a program that meets curricular standards set by Missouri. The program should be at least 42 semester hours total and include at least 12 semester hours in counseling at the elementary level.
If you are pursuing a professional counseling license, you must have at least 48 semester hours of coursework. Your program will include six semester hours of internship as well as coursework in ten areas identified by the Board. Learn more about master's in counseling programs here.
As you complete your professional counseling coursework, you will take steps toward provisional licensing. You will take the National Counselor Examination.
You will also need to complete a background check and find and register a supervisor. If your supervisor is not employed at your work site, you will have additional paperwork to complete.
If you're a school counselor, you'll take the Praxis. You'll be eligible for your initial license once you've gotten an institutional recommendation from your school.
You will need some work experience. If your highest degree is a master's, you must work under supervision for two years and accrue at least 3,000 total hours of experience before you can be licensed as a professional counselor. The experience can be stretched out for as long as five years; the Board requires that you work at least 15 hours a week while accruing supervised experience and that you notify them of changes in setting or supervisor. If you have a more advanced degree (doctoral or educational specialist) your post-degree requirement could be as little as a year.
As a school counselor, you will need to work under an initial certificate for four years before you can get your continuous certificate. You'll need satisfactory annual evaluations. You will be mentored your first two years.
Sometime before you apply for full licensure as a professional counselor, you will take a short open book jurisprudence exam.