How to Become a School Counselor in Maryland

School counselors occupy an important role in educational settings, providing support to students, parents, educators, and administrators. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that demand for school counselors should increase faster than the national average at 13% through 2026. Aspiring professionals researching how to become a school counselor in Maryland should begin by examining pertinent qualities for careers in the field. School counselors must possess compassion, empathy, and interpersonal skills, as their roles require management of sensitive information. Becoming a guidance counselor requires an advanced degree in school counseling or a related field. Read on for specific educational, licensing information, and resources for aspiring school counseling professionals.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Maryland

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Maryland here

Education and Experience Requirements

The section below includes information about qualifying degrees aspiring counselors should consider at the bachelor's and master's degree levels. This profession also offers opportunities for doctoral degrees. Professionals must hold a master's degree at minimum to practice counseling with a license. This section also includes details about coursework, credit requirements, and licensure requirements.

Aspiring school counselors must earn a master's degree in counseling to qualify for licensure

The Maryland School Counselor Board requires applicants to hold a bachelor's degree in a relevant field and a master's degree in counseling. These degrees must prepare candidates to provide personal and academic growth, educational and career decision-making, social and emotional growth, and interpersonal relationship development. The Maryland Counselor Board does not require a specific major at the undergraduate level. However, students should consider a major in counseling, psychology, or sociology. These bachelor's programs typically require at least 120 credits. Common courses include counseling methods, probability and statistics, research methodology, developmental psychology, theories of personality, and biological foundations of psychology.

Aspiring school counselors must earn a master's degree in counseling to qualify for licensure. These programs typically require 60 credits at minimum. Core courses include law and ethics, group counseling, career guidance, leadership and advocacy, social justice practices, and intervention methods. While students must obtain a master's degree to practice with a license, earning a doctorate in counseling allows professionals to stand out as subject matter experts. Additionally, students should primarily consider programs that hold accreditation through the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CAREP). This accreditation indicates that the program covers pertinent knowledge and skills professionals need in the field.


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


Practicum and Internship

To become a school counselor in Maryland, students must complete a practicum, which requires 500 supervised contact hours in a K-12 school setting. However, the Maryland Counselor Board also accepts licensed professionals with two years of experience who hold a National Board of Certified Counselors certificate.

Application and Exam Requirements for Maryland School Counselors

The Maryland Department of Health mandates that professional counselor applicants must hold a master's degree from an accredited institution approved by the board. While CACREP-accredited programs retain the highest esteem, the National Board for Certified Counselors accepts students from non-CACREP programs. However, students may need to provide additional documentation. To qualify for the National Counselor Examination (NCE), students must receive approval from the Maryland Counselor Board, submit official transcripts, complete Bureau of Criminal Investigations and FBI background checks, and complete the online application.

Maryland applicants may take the exam on the third Wednesday or the fourth Thursday of each month. The NCE exam contains 200 multiple-choice questions and the exam requires just under four hours to complete. The NCE does not use a curved scoring system; therefore, students' scores do not alter based on the scores of other learners taking the exam. However, test takers may compare their scores to national results. The exam assesses pertinent knowledge and skills, including:

  • Human growth and development

  • Social and cultural diversity

  • Counseling and helping relationships

  • Group counseling and group work

  • Career counseling

  • Assessment and testing

  • Research and program evaluation

  • Professional counseling orientation and ethical practice

Maryland counselor applicants should note that the process may vary depending on students' specialization.

Out-of-State School Counselor Candidates

Maryland welcomes qualified out-of-state counselors. Applicants should hold a master's degree from accredited institutions with a minimum 27 months of professional experience within the past seven consecutive years. Maryland also requires applicants to submit an application and pay the $250 fee to the Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists. The Maryland Counselor Board also requires:

  • Out-of-state verification forms
  • Official transcripts
  • Course description forms
  • Three professional experience verification forms

Applicants need to show proof of passing the NCE. The state board also requires students to pass the Maryland Law Test. Out-of-state applicants should note that the board may request additional information to determine eligibility.

School Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

The Maryland Counselor Board requires practitioners to renew their license every two years. Professionals must submit an application, a $275 renewal fee, and a $36 Health Care Commission fee to the Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists. For a two-year renewal, practitioners must also complete 40 hours of continuing education (CE) coursework. A minimum 30 CE hours should include symposiums, workshops, seminars, or coursework. Informal experiences including speaker sessions, conferences, and professional supervision experiences should not exceed 10 CE hours. Maryland also offers one-year extensions, which require half the CE hours. Professionals who do not complete CE courses cannot

The Maryland Counselor Board requires practitioners to renew their license every two years

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in Maryland

Licensed counselors gain access to an active international network that shares cutting-edge research and innovative practices on a regular basis. The resources below can assist both emerging and practicing counselors to enhance their skills.

  • American School Counselor Association The ASCA strives to support students and professionals in the field by providing cutting-edge resources, statistical data, publications, access to conferences, and professional development.
  • Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development The AMCD provides resources that help counselors promote ethnic and racial empathy. AMCD offers leadership academy competency opportunities, growth workshops, mentorship, and a 25-state division network.
  • Center for School Counseling Outcome Research and Evaluation CSCORE provides educational opportunities for aspiring counselors. CSCORE also provides professional development opportunities for practitioners who wish to develop data-driven decision making, survey development, and program implementation skills.
  • Counseling Academic and Professional Honor Society International Established in 1985, this international honor society promotes professional excellence in counseling. Students gain access to annual conventions, mentorship, practical experience, leadership development, research opportunities, and fellowships.
  • Journal of School Counseling The JSC provides articles that discuss best practices for professional school counselors. Content focuses on innovation, theory and research, professional development, emerging issues, and current dilemmas.
  • Maryland Career Development Association School counselors play a vital role in students' career development. For instance, in secondary and postsecondary settings, counselors can help launch students' careers. School counselors benefit from MCDA resources as the organization strives to support professionalism and innovation.
  • Maryland School Counselor Association For more than 50 years, the MSCA has continued to advocate for active school counselors and emerging professionals. Members gain access to annual conferences, seminars, and workshops. Members can also join political advocacy efforts or serve on the board.
  • National Association of College Admission Counseling The NACAC strives to connect students and professionals. Members gain access to webinars, workshops, job fairs, national conferences, and micro-communities that focus on specific areas of the counseling field.
  • National Board for Certified Counselors The NBCC identifies as a grassroots network. Certified counselors gain access to a network of professionals who remain passionate about developing innovative solutions to modern problems in the field.
  • National Education Association Over three million education employees belong to the NEA. Membership includes access to discussion forums, innovative field techniques, news, online resources, and webinars.

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