School Counselor Certification in Florida

Florida guidance counselors are certified in grades pre-k through 12. The credential is issued on the basis of education and examination. Candidates can also expect background checks.

Florida School Counselor Educational Requirements

Florida school counselors must have degrees at the master’s level ( However, it is not mandatory that the degree be in guidance and counseling. A professional who seeks certification on the basis of a degree other than counselor education or guidance and counseling must complete 30 semester hours in mandated areas.

The Florida Department of Education requires three semester hours in each of the following:

  • Guidance philosophy, principles, organization and administration
  • Personality theory, human development, and learning
  • Student appraisal, including use of standardized tests
  • Education and career development
  • Counseling theory and techniques of individual counseling
  • Group counseling and guidance
  • Consultation skills for working with parents, teachers, and agencies
  • Legalities, ethics, and current issues affecting school counselors
  • Counseling techniques with special populations (for example, drop-outs or exceptional students)

The student must have a practicum of at least three semester hours. This may take place in an elementary or secondary school setting.

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Examination Requirements

A prospective guidance counselor may need to pass multiple examinations. The Department of Education will notify candidates who have not yet passed the necessary examinations which ones are required after reviewing their application packages.

Educator candidates must meet a general knowledge requirement. In many cases, this is an examination: the Florida General Knowledge Test ( It tests math, reading, essay writing, and English language skills. General knowledge can also be displayed through any of the following: a valid out-of-state teaching certificate, certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards or the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, or college teaching experience; two semesters spent teaching at the college level will suffice.

Candidates may also be required to pass the Professional Education Test ( It assesses pedagogy and general professional practice (

The Department of Education also requires a content examination ( For guidance counselors, this is ‘Guidance and Counseling PK–12 (018)’. It is a multiple choice computer-based test that assesses knowledge of the following:

  • Counseling
  • Programs and activities
  • Student assessment
  • Academic advisement
  • Career development and post-secondary opportunity
  • Coordination, consultation, and collaboration
  • Ethical, legal, and professional considerations
  • Research, program evaluation, and monitoring/ follow-up
  • Social and cultural diversity
  • Appropriate technology

Candidate guides are available on the Florida Teacher Certification Examinations website (

There is a $200 initial fee for the school counseling examination ( Re-examination costs $220. The examination is available at participating computer-based testing sites in Florida and around the nation.

A candidate will need a scaled score of at least 200. Unofficial results are available immediately after testing. Official results are available four weeks later.

Individuals who need more information about the testing process can call 866-613-3281.

Out-of-State School Counselors

Educators who hold certificates in other U.S. states or territories will need to provide copies of their credentials. They are directed to photocopy both the front and back side.

Out-of-state candidates may apply for temporary certificates or for professional certificates by reciprocity. A temporary certificate can be issued to an individual who has not yet met state examination requirements.

Individuals who were educated outside the United States will need to have their credentials evaluated ( The credential evaluation may be carried out by an agency that is a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) or the Association of International Credential Evaluators (AICE) or that has been explicitly approved by the Florida Bureau of Educator Certification. It may also be carried out by a university.

The Application Process

Applications may be completed online or on paper ( Individuals who want paper applications should request them from the Department or pick them up from their local school district office. Forms cannot be printed from the online application system.

The applicant must remit a nonrefundable application fee of $75.

The Department of Education will require official transcripts. Applicants should make sure that supporting documentation that arrives after the initial application includes the social security number.

Applicants using the online system will receive instructions about fee and transcript submission.

The Florida Department of Education makes a distinction between certification and certification eligibility. The applicant will receive a statement of status of eligibility after materials have been received. An individual who is not yet eligible for a professional level certificate will receive a list of requirements that must be met (

Individuals who are found eligible for certification still have one more step. The professional certificate is not issued until after fingerprints clear ( Normally the background check is carried out by the employer and the results are reported back to the Department of Education. However, a professional who is found eligible for a professional level certificate may opt to go through the fingerprinting process before employment. The Department of Education has provided instructions for registering for Livescan fingerprint processing ( Individuals who opt to go through the process before they have an offer of employment should be aware that they may be required to go through the process again at the employment level.

The Department of Education does not issue temporary certificates to individuals who have not received offers of employment (

A statement of eligibility is valid for three years. An individual can receive another statement but will need to meet the requirements that are in effect at that time.

Additional Information

Information about guidance counselor certification can be found on the website of the Department of Education (

The Department of Education can be reached at 800-445-6739. Walk-ins are accepted at the Ralph Turlington Building in Tallahassee; office hours are 8:00 to 5:00 on weekdays. Correspondence can also be sent by email contact form (

The Florida School Counselor Association does not certify counselors but is an additional professional resource (

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