How to Become a School Counselor in Minnesota

School counselors support students in K-12 schools across the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for counselors to grow 13% through 2026, nearly twice as much as the national average for all occupations.

This guide explains how to become a guidance counselor in Minnesota, including education and licensure requirements. It also covers helpful professional organizations and resources for Minnesota counseling professionals.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Minnesota

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Minnesota here

Education and Experience Requirements

Minnesota offers multiple pathways to obtain school counseling licensure through several licensing tiers. The sections below outline how to become a Minnesota guidance counselor, including education and experience requirements.

Education and Coursework

Minnesota maintains multiple tiers of guidance counselor licensure, each of which holds different requirements. The Tier 2 license, the lowest licensure level, requires candidates to hold a master's in counseling or hold a bachelor's degree and be enrolled in a graduate school counseling program that includes at least 24 credits of counseling-specific coursework.

Minnesota maintains multiple tiers of guidance counselor licensure, each of which holds different requirements

For the more advanced Tier 3 license, counselors must hold a master's in counseling and demonstrate completion of a counseling preparation program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). For a Tier 4 license, the highest school counseling credential in the state, applicants must meet all requirements for a Tier 3 license and possess at least three years of professional school counseling experience in Minnesota.

Applicants for guidance counselor licensure must also demonstrate mastery of 11 competencies outlined by the Minnesota counselor board, including understanding how children, youth, and adults learn and consultation techniques.


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


Practicum and Internship

Counseling candidates must complete 700 internship hours before obtaining licensure. Students in CACREP-accredited programs complete 100 practicum hours and 600 internship hours, while students in other programs complete 700 experiential hours total. Candidates generally perform their work in a supervised K-12 school environment.

Application and Exam Requirements for Minnesota School Counselors

The Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board oversees licensure for all school counselors in the state. The board's online application portal enables school counselors to apply for all tiers of licensure. All first-time applicants must pay a fee of $90.25. The application also requires a fingerprint card, official college transcripts, a conduct review statement, verification of completion of a state-approved program (if the program is not CACREP-accredited), and a district verification form.

Minnesota does not require school counselors to sit for an exam to obtain licensure. Applicants attempting to add counseling licensure to an existing Minnesota education license must indicate this on their application form. Applicants for a Tier 2 license should note that a job offer from a Minnesota public school is required to qualify for a license.

Out-of-State School Counselor Candidates

While Minnesota does not offer direct licensure reciprocity with other states, out-of-state school counselors with regionally accredited degrees from approved programs may qualify for Minnesota licensure. Applicants must also hold field-specific experience equivalent to Minnesota requirements. Counselors with adequate experience may qualify for Tier 3 licensure, while those who have been offered a position with the Minnesota public schools may qualify for Tier 2 licensure.

Not all out-of-state counselors qualify for Minnesota licensure, but the state accepts many out-of-state applicants, particularly graduates of CACREP-accredited programs. Out-of-state counselors should consult the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board to determine if they meet state requirements.

School Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

Renewal requirements vary between different licensure levels. Tier 2 licenses last for two years and can be renewed up to three times. Tier 3 licenses last three years and can be renewed indefinitely. Tier 4 licenses last five years and can also be renewed indefinitely.

Depending upon the licensure level, counselors must renew their credentials every two to four years

Both Tier 3 and Tier 4 licenses require continuing education for renewal. Tier 3 counselors seeking renewal must complete 75 clock hours of continuing education, while Tier 4 counselors must complete 125 clock hours. The state board's Categories for Clock Hour Allocation outlines the activities eligible for continuing education hours, including education workshops and conferences, staff development activities, and peer coaching or mentorship.

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in Minnesota

School counselors in Minnesota benefit from professional organizations that provide job listings, networking opportunities, professional conferences, and other resources.

  • American Counseling Association A major professional organization for counselors of all types, ACA serves school counselors around the country, offering job listings, professional development opportunities, publications, and counseling conferences.
  • American School Counselor Association The premier national organization for school counselors, ASCA offers professional development and networking opportunities, publications and journals, conferences, and free liability insurance for members.
  • Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling Open to all counselors who work with children and adolescents, ACAC offers a regular newsletter, networking activities, a biannual journal, research grants, and a blog for members.
  • Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development An organization for professional counselors of color, AMCD performs research, publishes a journal, hosts conferences, and offers mentorship opportunities for counseling students.
  • International School Counselor Association An organization specifically for counselors who work at international schools, ISCA provides a collaborative professional community that includes networking events, conferences, and counseling resources.
  • Minneapolis Metro School Counselor Association A local chapter of the Minnesota School Counselors Association, the MMSCA addresses the unique challenges faced by Minneapolis counselors, including graduation and testing requirements and culturally competent counselling.
  • Minnesota School Counselors Association Promoting leadership and advocacy for school counselors in Minnesota, MSCA hosts an annual conference and offers mentorship, continuing education opportunities, and ethical and legal support.
  • National Education Association One of the country's largest professional organizations for educators, NEA also serves school counselors, offering advocacy, education tools, professional connections, grants, awards, and conferences.
  • School Counselor Resources An online storefront specifically for school counselors, this site offers a variety of counseling tools and literature for school counselors at all levels.
  • Southeast Minnesota School Counselors Association Another regional member of the Minnesota School Counselors Association, SMSCA serves counselors at dozens of schools in southeastern Minnesota, offering conferences, awards, scholarships, and professional connections.

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