How to Become a School Counselor in Colorado

Colorado recognizes the importance of school counselors by offering the Colorado School Counselor Corps Grant Program, which supports school counselors at low-income schools. This makes school counseling a great career option in Colorado.

School counselors in Colorado require a state-issued special service provider (SSP) license with a school counselor endorsement to practice. This guide explains how to become a school counselor in Colorado, covering education and experience requirements, the application and renewal process, and how out-of-state counselors can apply for a Colorado counseling license. Continue reading to learn how to become a guidance counselor in Colorado.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Colorado

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Colorado here

Education and Experience Requirements

The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) requires school counselors to meet education and experience requirements to qualify for licensure. The state offers two pathways to becoming a guidance counselor: one for applicants with a master's in school counseling and another for individuals who hold a master's in clinical counseling or social work.

Education and Coursework

The first pathway to earning a school counselor license in Colorado requires a master's degree in school counseling from a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Candidates who meet this requirement can apply for an initial or professional SSP license with a school counselor endorsement.

Colorado offers a second, less direct pathway for candidates who hold master's degrees in clinical counseling or social work. They can apply for one-year, nonrenewable interim school counselor licenses, and they must fulfill additional requirements within one year.

Colorado does not require school counseling professionals to complete coursework in specific subjects or take specific courses. The state also does not require applicants to complete a specified number of units of coursework. Colorado school counselors can hold an undergraduate degree in any subject; it does not need to be related to school counseling.

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

Practicum and Internship

CDE requires school counselors to complete a minimum 100-clock hour practicum and a minimum 600-clock hour internship that includes working with multiple grade levels. A licensed school counselor must supervise the internship.

Application and Exam Requirements for Colorado School Counselors

CDE requires school counselors to hold an SSP license with a school counselor endorsement. The state offers two pathways to the school counselor license.

Pathway one — initial or professional SSP / school counselor — requires a master's or higher in school counseling, a 100-clock hour practicum, a 600-clock hour internship, and passing scores on a state-approved exam. Applicants need a 220 on either the PRAXIS 5421 exam or the PLACE 41 exam.

California offers two pathways to the school counselor license: SSP / school counselor or interim authorization / school counselor

Pathway two — interim authorization / school counselor — allows candidates with a master's degree in clinical counseling or social work to begin practicing school counseling in the state while fulfilling other licensure requirements. Pathway two candidates must also hold a valid Colorado counseling (LPC) or social work license (LSW, LCSW) and at least three years of professional practice experience.

School counselors with interim authorization to practice must pass the PRAXIS 5421 exam and complete an approved school counselor induction program within one calendar year. After that, they can apply for the professional SSP/school counselor license.

All prospective Colorado school counselors must submit:

  • An application fee
  • A set of fingerprints (sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation)
  • A valid government-issued ID
  • Official college transcripts
  • Proof of a passing score on PRAXIS or PLACE
  • Employment history
  • Documentation of past criminal history, disciplinary actions, and issues related to employment (if applicable)

Out-of-State School Counselor Candidates

Prospective Colorado school counselors who hold licenses in other states can acquire Colorado school counselor licenses in two ways:

  1. Hold a valid school counselor license from another state with an endorsement identical to Colorado's and demonstrate three years of full-time, licensed experience in that state within the last seven years.
  2. Undergo an application evaluation to determine if they hold the necessary education or professional experience to qualify for the endorsement. If not, the agency will help applicants figure out what they need to do to meet these requirements.

School Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

School counselors in Colorado must periodically renew their licenses, and expiration times vary by license. An interim SSP with a school counselor endorsement is issued only once and does not qualify for renewal.

Initial SSP

An initial SSP license expires after three years. School counselors can renew their initial licenses once. After that, they must convert their initial license to a professional license by completing an induction program approved by the Colorado State Board of Education. Delivered by Colorado school districts, induction programs offer professional development, mentorship, ethics training, and performance evaluations.

Professional SSP

School counselors renew their professional SSP licenses every five years. To be eligible for renewal, they must earn six semester credits from approved, regionally accredited colleges. This can include up to 90 clock hours of professional development, including in-service education or involvement in school reform.

School counselors renew their professional SSP licenses every five years

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in Colorado

The resources below can help students, recent graduates, and experienced professionals explore how to become a counselor in Colorado. The list includes places to find job postings, professional organizations, and licensing information.

  • American Counseling Association As the world's largest organization for professional counselors, ACA represents professional counselors in all practice areas. The association offers career development information, continuing education opportunities, and an annual conference.
  • American School Counselor Association The premier organization for professional school counselors, ASCA offers publications, professional development, and other resources. The association advocates for school counselors and the children and adolescents they serve.
  • Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling ACAC's mission focuses on promoting the idea that all young people deserve access to appropriate, quality mental health services. ACAC also publishes the Journal of Child and Adolescent Counseling.
  • Colorado Department of Education CDE oversees the licensure of all school counselors in Colorado. On its website, students can find licensing information, applications, and job openings.
  • Colorado School Counselor Association CSCA represents professional school counselors in Colorado. It offers a job board, resources for graduate students, a mentorship program, and professional development opportunities.

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