How to Become a School Counselor in Michigan

School counselors work to improve the lives of students and to positively impact school communities. To secure a job in this rewarding field, individuals should pursue state licensure as a school counselor. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs in school and career counseling to grow by 13% from 2016-2026.

According to the BLS, nearly 7,000 educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors work in Michigan. These counselors earn an average annual salary of $55,890, which is above the average salary of $48,300 for all occupations in the state. This guide includes information that covers how to become a guidance counselor in Michigan.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Michigan

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Michigan here

Education and Experience Requirements

To obtain a school counselor license in Michigan, candidates must complete a state-approved, graduate-level counseling program and a supervised school counseling internship. Licensed teachers can complete a counseling endorsement program, while other candidates for licensure must complete a master's in counseling. The following section details the educational requirements for school counselors in Michigan.

Education and Coursework

Aspiring school counselors in Michigan must earn a bachelor's degree in any field before applying to a state-approved master's program. Graduate students can begin working as a counselor after completing 30 credits of graduate work and obtaining approval from their institution and from the state. Licensed teachers can add a counseling endorsement to their certification after completing a state-approved counseling endorsement program.

Graduate-level school counseling programs typically require coursework in counseling theories and techniques, multicultural counseling, assessment, group counseling, and ethics. These programs prepare school counselors to guide students through college and career planning and to help young learners cope with issues such as trauma, stress, and addiction. Most in-state programs align with Michigan's state guidelines for licensure.


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


Practicum and Internship

State-approved counseling programs in Michigan require a 600-hour counseling internship. During the internship, which typically lasts one semester, students must log at least 300 clock hours in a school setting and gain supervised experience counseling students directly.

Application and Exam Requirements for Michigan School Counselors

The Michigan Department of Education certifies professional educators, including school counselors. Michigan requires licensed school counselors to hold a 48-credit master's degree. However, in-state applicants can apply for a preliminary employment authorization, which is valid for up to three years, to work as a counselor while completing their master's degree and counseling internship.

Michigan requires licensed school counselors to hold a 48-credit master's degree

Applicants who complete all of their educational and internship requirements and pass the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification's school counselor exam can apply for a school counselor license (SCL) with no teaching license. Alternatively, licensed teachers can add an endorsement to their teaching certificate. The SCL includes a $160 application fee, and the endorsement costs $50. Both credentials are valid for five years.

In-state institutions provide verification to the state that SCL or endorsement applicants meet all education requirements. Licensed educators in Michigan must also pass a background check and obtain first aid and CPR certification from an approved provider.

Out-of-state School Counselor Candidates

Counselors licensed in another state can apply for a school counselor license from the Michigan Department of Education. Applicants must demonstrate completion of a graduate degree in school counseling, including an internship in a school setting. Applicants without a master's degree must possess at least five years of school counseling experience (within the last seven years) and a valid out-of-state license.

Out-of-state applicants can apply for a nonrenewable temporary school counselor authorization, allowing them to practice for one year, after which they must pass the state's school counselor exam.

School Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

Michigan school counselors must renew their license every five years. To qualify for renewal, counselors must document completion of six semester credits relevant to school counseling, 150 clock hours of professional development, or any equivalent combination of credits and hours. For these requirements, one college credit equals 25 clock hours. Of the required hours, at least 50 must be state continuing education clock hours related to college and career counseling.

Michigan school counselors must renew their license every five years

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in Michigan

Michigan school counselors and graduate students can access a variety of resources and professional development opportunities. Many organizations, government agencies, and nonprofits, such as those listed below, offer online and in-person resources for school counselors.

  • American Counseling Association - Midwest Region This nonprofit organization serves the interests of professional counselors employed in a variety of settings. ACA provides resources including college and career counseling tools and research briefs.
  • American School Counselor Association This association advocates on behalf of counselors and students, publishes resources and position statements, provides networking and professional development opportunities, and offers awards.
  • Association for Counselor Education and Supervision This association promotes high standards for counselor education. ACES hosts conferences, publishes a quarterly journal, and offers leadership opportunities to members. Graduate student members can also benefit from networking opportunities.
  • Council for Exceptional Children This organization promotes quality education for gifted students and learners with special needs. Counselors working with gifted and special education students can access CEC's resources, professional standards, and professional development opportunities.
  • Michigan Association for College Admission Counseling This state affiliate of NACAC connects high school counselors, college admissions officers, and other professionals involved in college admissions. Members benefit from professional development opportunities, a mentorship program, workshops, and a job board.
  • Michigan College Access Network This organization aims to increase the number of Michigan residents with college degrees to 60% by 2030. MCAN provides school grants, offers professional development opportunities for counselors, and disseminates relevant research.
  • Michigan Counseling Association This nonprofit association of counselors offers events, newsletters, resources, and professional development opportunities. Divisions and regional chapters provide additional networking events.
  • Michigan School Counselor Association This division of ASCA provides professional development opportunities and resources for Michigan school counselors. MSCA offers awards, scholarships, conferences, and a counselor performance evaluation tool.
  • MI Student Aid This portal offers resources related to state-funded student financial aid for high school counselors, students, and parents. Website visitors can access guides for state aid programs and financial planning for college.
  • National Career Development Association This association offers certification, career assistance, and continuing education programs for career counselors. NCDA also publishes resources, ethical guidelines, and legislative updates.

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