How to Become a School Counselor in Arkansas

A school counselor's primary tasks include identifying students with behavioral or learning issues and developing plans with teachers and parents to help those students meet required milestones. Counselors also provide guidance to students about career and college planning to help them select a path that aligns with their goals and interests.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average counselor earns $53,340 annually in Arkansas. A counselor's earning potential may vary depending on location and experience level. To work as a school or guidance counselor in Arkansas, candidates must meet the state's requirements, including earning a master's degree and applying for state licensure.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Arkansas

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Arkansas here

Education and Experience Requirements

Candidates interested in becoming a school counselor in Arkansas must meet the counselor board's educational and experience requirements. The exact components of a degree may vary by school, but the following section explores common features individuals often encounter as they research school counselor programs in Arkansas.

Education and Coursework

Arkansas requires school or guidance counselors to possess a master's degree in counseling or a related field to qualify for licensure. The program must meet the standards set by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. Arkansas does not require that candidates earn a bachelor's degree in a specific field. Nevertheless, earning a bachelor's in psychology, counseling, or a similar field can help students excel at graduate study.

Individuals pursuing a school counseling career must complete a minimum of 60 credits. Arkansas does not specify required courses. Typical courses in an approved master's program include foundations of school counseling, educational assessment and measurement, and career guidance. Arkansas requires individuals to demonstrate competency in management, evaluation, and knowledge in school counseling principles.

With several programs available to individuals pursuing a school counseling career, choosing one may feel overwhelming. By visiting, individuals can compare bachelor's and master's degrees in counseling to select the program that best suits their needs.

Interested in pursuing an education in school counseling? Check out the following pages to explore available academic programs by level:

Practicum and Internship

Prospective school and guidance counselors must complete supervised professional practice hours. Arkansas requires a minimum of 100 practicum hours and 600 internship hours. At least 40 practicum hours and 240 internship hours must involve direct service. Most master's programs include practicum and internships component that meet this requirement.

Application and Exam Requirements for Arkansas School Counselors

The Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling (ABEC) oversees the counseling licensure process. Candidates receive the state's guidance and counseling license if they meet all education, experience, and examination requirements. Prior to taking exams, individuals must submit an application with a color passport-sized photo taken within the last year, a notary affidavit of residency, and a core curriculum summary form or unofficial school transcripts. They must also pay a $200 application fee.

Candidates receive the state's guidance and counseling license if they meet all education, experience, and examination requirements

Once candidates submit a successful application, they may register to take the National Counselor Examination (NCE). They must also pass the Arkansas Jurisprudence Examination and complete an oral interview with the ABEC. Individuals must wait until after completing the NCE to schedule their interview. All licensure applicants must pass state and federal criminal background checks.

After taking the NCE and completing the interview, candidates submit official college transcripts, examination scores, four letters of recommendation, a statement of intent, and background check results to the ABEC. Successful candidates pay an additional $75 licensure fee.

Individuals should consult the ABEC website for more information.

Out-of-State School Counselor Candidates

Out-of-state school counselor candidates must submit university transcripts demonstrating their education experience and provide a copy of their current counseling license to the ABEC. They must also pass an Arkansas-approved examination such as the NCE. The Arkansas counselor board may waive the examination requirement for candidates who provide proof of three years of counseling experience.

The ABEC also requires out-of-state candidates to complete training in child maltreatment. Out-of-state candidates can earn a provisional license to practice while they complete the ABEC licensure process.

School Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

Arkansas counselors must renew their license every two years. The renewal process includes submitting a new statement of intent and completing a minimum of 24 continuing education credits. At least 22 credits must support a counselor's statement of intent, while the other two must come from an ethics course. Passing a state-approved examination may substitute for continuing education credits. Arkansas also requires an updated background check to renew licenses.

Arkansas counselors must renew their license every two years

Counselors can complete the renewal process online. Individuals must submit proof of completed continuing education credits or examination scores and pay the $75 renewal fee.

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in Arkansas

Theories in counseling evolve constantly, making it important for school counselors to stay up-to-date on current industry trends. Professional organizations and online resources help counselors access the latest research and connect with peers.

Below, you can find a list of 10 valuable resources for counseling professionals in Arkansas.

  • American Counseling Association The ACA offers continuing education courses, an online chat forum, and industry publications. It also provides members with networking opportunities through conferences it hosts throughout the year.
  • American School Counselor Association ASCA offers free online resources such as lesson plans and discounted subscriptions to industry publications. Counselors may also access an online community forum to collaborate with industry peers.
  • Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling The ABEC aims to ensure counseling professionals practice according to industry standards. This resource helps counselors stay informed of state policies and provides tools for maintaining their counseling license.
  • Arkansas Counseling Association The ArCA provides an annual conference where attendees learn about the latest industry research and connect with peers.
  • Arkansas School Counselor Association The ArSCA supports counselors with professional development opportunities and links to resources with relevant information. It also holds an annual conference featuring keynote speakers and networking opportunities.
  • CollegeBoard for Counselors This website connects school counselors with several resources, including guides and links to relevant information. The platform also offers courses that allow professionals the opportunity to hone their skills and work with peers.
  • National Board for Certified Counselors The NBCC is a nonprofit organization which sets credentialing standards for counselors. The board's website offers multiple counseling resources and allows individuals to explore the licensing requirements for every state.
  • National Education Association The NEA is the nation's largest professional organization. The association provides several resources to counselors, including access to industry publications, sample lesson plans, and classroom strategies. Counselors may take advantage of networking opportunities by attending NEA conferences and workshops.
  • NetCE This website provides online courses in multiple subject areas, including school counseling. Counselors should use this website as a starting point for discovering courses which may count towards Arkansas's continuing education requirements.

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