Working as a school counselor can provide a rewarding career in a robust job market. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects school and career counseling jobs to grow by 13% through 2026. Counselors help students succeed in elementary schools, high schools, and junior colleges, and earn an annual median salary of $56,310. In Alabama, school counselors must obtain certification, a sometimes complex process. This comprehensive guide outlines how you can become a school counselor and receive certification to work in Alabama.
Counseling License and Career Requirements in AlabamaExplore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Alabama here
Education and Experience Requirements
To work as a certified school counselor in Alabama, students must meet specific educational and work experience requirements, and complete an exam to assess their knowledge. However, there are several pathways for prospective school counselors. Below, learn more about the required degrees, exams, and work experience you need to become a school counselor in Alabama.
Education and Coursework
While there are several different avenues to become a school counselor in Alabama, all candidates need to meet the educational requirements to receive certification through the Alabama State Department of Education. The state offers two main paths to certification: traditional and CACREP. Licensed professionals from out-of-state looking to transfer into Alabama may need to meet additional requirements.
all candidates need to meet the educational requirements to receive certification through the Alabama State Department of Education
The traditional pathway to certification is designed for educators who hold a teaching certification and a state-approved degree in counseling. To get certified through this pathway, applicants must complete two years of instructional or teaching work experience.
The CACREP pathway benefits applicants who hold a master's degree from a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. In addition, all counselors seeking certification must have at least two years of supervised experience, take the required exams, or submit verification of test scores.
Applicants with a bachelor's degree receive an Alabama Professional Educator Certificate Class B. Master degree applicants receive a Class A certificate, and sixth-year or educational specialists receive a Class AA certificate. For more information about how to find the right counseling degree,visit this page.
Interested in pursuing an education in school counseling? Check out the following pages to explore available academic programs by level:
Practicum and Internship
To receive certification in the state of Alabama, prospective school counselors must complete supervised work experience, which includes a 300-hour internship and 30 hours of supervised counseling hours. A student's college counseling program usually helps them find internships and on-the-job work experience at an elementary or high school.
Application and Exam Requirements for Alabama School Counselors
The Alabama Department of Education oversees the certification process for school counselors. Certification requirements vary, depending on a person's career experience, residency status, and educational level.
All applicants — including those with and without teaching certificates — must take a computer assessment exam to become a certified school counselor in Alabama. Applicants who hold a teaching certificate must take the basic skills test through the ACT WorkKey systems, and the Professional School Counselor Examination from the Praxis II Series. To pass the exam, candidates need to get a score of Level 5 in reading, Level 3 in writing, and Level 4 in applied mathematics. Applicants taking tests in Alabama will have their scores automatically sent to the Alabama Department of Education. Otherwise, test takers need to submit a test code to the department.
Prospective counselors who earned a master's degree from a CACREP-accredited program must pass the National Counselor Examination, in addition to other required assessments. Many counseling programs incorporate the exam near the graduation date. All applicants must complete an application and submit a nonrefundable fee, and must also complete fingerprint background checks. Out-of-state candidates must submit their fingerprint cards.
All applicants — including those with and without teaching certificates — must take a computer assessment exam
Out-of-State School Counselor Candidates
Alabama offers a reciprocity agreement to help out-of-state school counselors receive certification to work in the state. Out-of-state applicants can submit forms to have their credentials reviewed by the Alabama Department of Education. In general, out-of-state counselors receive certification if they hold a graduate degree from a regionally accredited college and a certification from their home state. Applicants also need to verify they have completed a minimum of two years of full-time work in an elementary school or high school.
The state does not require applicants who apply through the Alabama certificate reciprocity agreement to take basic skills assessments. However, candidates must demonstrate proof they passed a content knowledge test in another state.
School Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements
A school counselor certification in Alabama lasts for five years, and counselors in Alabama must apply for a continuation of their certification to prevent it from expiring. Applications and a fee must be submitted between January 1 and June 30, and applicants must meet all requirements before July 1 of the year that their certificate expires. To renew the Alabama school counselor certificate, applicants need three years of full-time work experience and 50 professional development hours. Applicants must mail all applications to the Alabama State Department of Education, along with a fee and background clearance.
Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in Alabama
School counselors must take continuing education courses throughout their career. Joining a professional organization offers members discounted continuing education courses, as well as networking opportunities and access to job boards. See below for links to helpful resources available to school counselors.
- American Counseling Association's Knowledge Center The ACA's Knowledge Center provides school counselors and graduate counseling students with the latest news, professional development resources, and access to conferences. Members receive continuing education benefits and free journals.
- Alabama School Counselor Association Founded in 1952, ALSCA supports school counselors across the country with contests and awards that recognize outstanding professionals. The association's website also provides information to resources, including cybersafety and drug awareness.
- The Amelia Center School counselors use the Amelia Center to help families, parents, and children mourning the death of a loved one. The center offers professional counseling, workshops, and training for schools and nonprofits to better understand the grieving process.
- Alabama State Department of Education The Alabama State Department of Education oversees the certification process for school counselors. Professionals can find all the information they need regarding applications, requirements, and renewals on the department's website.
- Praxis To receive certification in Alabama, school counselors typically need to take the Praxis test. Counselors can learn more about the test, costs, and where to find testing centers on the Praxis website.
- School-Counselor.org The School Counselor Toolkit includes strategies for behavior management, anger management, and anxiety management in children and adolescents.
- School Counselor Resources This resource helps school counselors find books and materials for children in elementary school, junior high, and high school. Counselors can also find free catalogs in subjects such as social studies, economics, writing, and psychology.
- SCOPE SCOPE offers an op-ed space for the school counseling profession. The site features counseling podcasts and blog posts, and offers an open forum for school counselors.
- Teachers Pay Teachers TpT offers a marketplace with more than 3 million free and paid resources to help school counselors. The site offers worksheets, lesson plans, and printable materials such as schedule cards and math packets.
- American School Counselor Association ASCA supports school counselors by providing them with free lesson plans, and access to local workshops and webinars. The online community also helps counselors connect with other local professionals.