How to Become a School Counselor in Indiana

A school counselor helps students achieve success in school, whether on the playground or in the classroom. These professionals evaluate students, diagnose learning or behavioral issues, develop lesson plans to help students meet their goals, and advise students on career or college choices. On average, school counselors in Indiana earn $40,552 per year, though salaries vary based on location and level of experience.

Indiana requires school counselors to possess a master's degree and one of three state counseling licensures. Read on to learn more about how to become a school counselor in Indiana.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Indiana

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Indiana here

Education and Experience Requirements

To become a school counselor in Indiana, individuals must meet the education and experience requirements set by the state's counselor board. Prospective counselors should review their program's details to make sure they include similar core curriculum to Indiana's standards. The following section details some of the common coursework students may encounter in school counselor programs.

Education and Coursework

A student's journey to working as a school counselor begins with earning a bachelor's degree from an accredited university in psychology, sociology, or counseling. However, Indiana requires school counselors to possess at least a master's degree, so the next step is for students to enroll in a master's program in counseling or a related field like human development, family relations, or clinical social work.

The details of a master's degree may vary by school, so students should ensure their programs offer the coursework necessary to meet Indiana state standards. For instance, Indiana requires students to complete a minimum of 48 semester hours — or 72 quarter hours — of coursework. The curricula must include courses in human growth and development, group dynamics, clinical instructions, lifestyle and career development, psychotherapy, and individual assessment. Most programs should also include an internship or practicum requirement.

For more information on counseling degree options and tips for selecting a program, visit If you are unsure about whether a program meets the requirements in Indiana, reach out to a program advisor prior to applying.

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

Practicum and Internship

To qualify for licensure in Indiana, students must complete a minimum of 1,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. The hours must include at least 100 practicum hours, 600 internship hours, and 300 hours of an advanced internship. If a program does not offer an advanced level, students may still meet these requirements with the 1,000-hour minimum.

Application and Exam Requirements for Indiana School Counselors

The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) oversees the licensing process in the state and offers three levels of licensure for school counselors. The first level of licensing is the initial practitioner license, which is valid for two years. To qualify, individuals must possess a master's degree and pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination. Counselors may convert their initial practitioner license to a five-year practitioner license by completing one of two conversion methods.

To qualify for an initial practitioner license, individuals must possess a master's degree and pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination

The first method is through the Indiana Mentor and Assessment Program (IMAP). The IMAP program introduces counseling professionals to the seven key school service personnel standards. Individuals must then pass the year two assessment. Alternatively, the second method requires professionals to complete two years of service and 40 professional growth plan (PGP) points. Professionals can earn PGP points by participating in school improvement plans, workshops, or conferences. A counselor's PGP hours must be verified by a qualifying administrator.

The third level of licensure is the accomplished practitioner license. Professionals must practice under a valid license for five years before applying. They must also continue their education to earn a doctorate or educational specialist degree. The accomplished practitioner license is valid for ten years.

Out-of-State School Counselor Candidates

Out-of-state school counselors looking to transfer to Indiana must possess a master's degree from an accredited institution. Candidates also submit documentation that demonstrates their out-of-state program curriculum meets or exceeds Indiana's coursework requirements. Indiana also requires all candidates to complete CPR, AED, and the Heimlich Maneuver training courses.

To apply for Indiana licensure, prospective candidates must submit official transcripts, a copy of their current license, if applicable, and a letter from an administrator verifying any previous experience. Candidates must also complete an Areas for Evaluation form, application, and pay a $35 application fee. Indiana may permit a reciprocal license with some limitations depending on a candidate's circumstances.

School Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

School counselor licenses in Indiana expire every two, five, or ten years — depending on the type of license. A counselor may begin the application for renewal within 45 days of their license's expiration date. They must submit proof of current CPR, AED, and Heimlich certification along with documentation of PGP hours.

School counselor licenses in Indiana expire every two, five, or ten years — depending on the type of license

The number of PGPs required for renewal may vary depending on the type of license. School counselors with a practitioner license or accomplished practitioner license must complete 90 PGP hours to renew their license. Professionals with the initial practitioner license must complete 40 PGP points to either renew or convert their license to the five-year practitioner license.

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in Indiana

The methods and theories in school counseling evolve, and industry standards are subject to change. To remain up-to-date on trends, counseling professionals should use the following resources and organizations to stay educated and connect with peers.

  • American Counseling Association The ACA offers continuing education opportunities, an online chat forum, and industry publications. The organization also holds conferences where professionals can network with industry peers and learn the latest in leadership and educational practices.
  • American School Counselor Association The ASCA offers free online resources, including lesson plans and discounted subscriptions to top educational publications. Their website also provides an online community forum where peers can collaborate on industry topics.
  • Indiana School Counselor Association ISCA is a non-profit organization that promotes as individuals advance in their academic or professional pursuits. The association also publishes an e-newsletter that provides members with the latest information in education and holds members to a strict code of ethics.
  • Indiana Teacher Association With 40,000 members, this organization upholds quality educational standards in the state. It is also a source for the latest information on industry standards and state licensing requirements.
  • Journal of School Counseling This University of Montana-sponsored journal features articles on key topics like innovative methods, research, professional development, and current industry issues. This resource helps counselors see what their peers are researching and stay up-to-date on industry trends.
  • National Association for College Admission Counseling The NACAC comprises 15,000 members devoted to helping students pursue post-secondary education. It promotes professional growth by providing access to industry publications, research, and conferences where professionals may network with peers.
  • National Board for Certified Counselors The NBCC is a non-profit organization responsible for setting credentialing standards for counseling professionals. Their website offers a variety of counseling resources and allows individuals to search for the licensing requirements for each state.
  • National Education Association As the nation's largest professional organization, the NEA offers resources like publications in print and online, sample lesson plans, classroom strategies, and networking opportunities at conferences or workshops.
  • Scope Scope provides an online forum where professionals can network and share information with industry peers. The site also releases a series of podcasts to offer professionals further insight into the evolving technology and methods in school counseling.

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