How to Become a School Counselor in Mississippi

Although you do not need a teaching credential to work as a school counselor in Mississippi, you do need a state-issued license to provide guidance counselor services to K-12 students. While examination and professional experience requirements vary for the class AA, AAA, or AAAA licenses, all levels require a master's degree in guidance and counseling.

If you are interested in how to become a guidance counselor in Mississippi, you can expect an interesting career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors in Mississippi earn $51,860 on average.

Read on to learn more about how to become a school counselor in Mississippi, including licensing requirements, application and exam procedures, and where to look for professional resources.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Mississippi

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Mississippi here

Education and Experience Requirements

The Mississippi counselor board requires all applicants for counselor licensure to hold a master's degree in guidance or counseling. This section discusses the educational background necessary to enter the field of school and guidance counseling in Mississippi, the courses you can expect to take, and requirements about supervised internships in school settings.

Education and Coursework

Licensed school counselors in Mississippi must hold a master's degree from a regionally accredited college or university in counseling, guidance, or a related field of study. A master's degree generally requires 60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours, including a supervised internship or practicum administered through the degree program.

Licensed school counselors in Mississippi must hold a master's degree from a regionally accredited college or university in counseling, guidance, or a related field of study

The curricula for school counseling programs at the master's level typically offer coursework in theories and practice of individual and group counseling, human growth, and development; testing, evaluation, and assessment; and social and cultural foundations in counseling.

The Mississippi State Board of Education approves in-state educator preparation programs, including those for counseling and guidance. Out-of-state programs must be authorized in their own jurisdictions. If you do not already hold a standard five-year teaching license in Mississippi, you must enroll in an approved school counseling program with a required year of internship to obtain school counseling licensure.

Prospective school counselors can also fulfill the educational requirement by earning the National Certified School Counselor (NCSC) credential through the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). This certificate requires at least 48 semester hours or 72 quarter hours in graduate-level counseling courses in specific content areas. The graduate program should include at least six semester hours or 10 quarter hours of supervised counseling experience in a school setting.

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

Practicum and Internship

Graduate degrees in counseling and guidance generally require practicums or internships conducted in an educational setting under the supervision of a licensed counseling professional. The length of time and number of credits needed to complete the internship depends on the school counseling program. Many school counseling students graduate with 600 hours — six credits — of internship experience that may apply to state licensing requirements.

Application and Exam Requirements for Mississippi School Counselors

The Mississippi Department of Education issues three levels of school counselor licenses: class AA, class AAA, and class AAAA. Depending on the licensing level, the state requires all school counselors to pass 1-2 exams administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

All applicants must pass the computer-delivered Praxis Specialty Area Test to receive initial class AA licensing. This exam covers professional foundations, service delivery, management, and accountability. Applicants without a valid teaching license for Mississippi must also pass the CORE Academic Skills exam. This test of basic skills covers the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics. ETS charges $115 for the Praxis exam and $135 for the Core Academic Skills for Educators test.

Licensure levels vary by the type of degree, examinations, and professional experience requirements:

Class AA

This requires a standard five-year Mississippi teaching license, a master's in an approved guidance and counseling program, and a passing score on the Praxis Specialty Area Test; or a master's in an approved program that includes a one-year supervised internship and passing scores on the CORE Academic Skills for Educators exam and the Praxis Specialty Area Test; or NCSC certification issued by NBCC.

Class AAA

Applicants must fulfill the same requirements as class AA licensure, plus a specialist degree in guidance and counseling.

Class AAAA

In addition to the requirements for class AA licensure, applicants must have a doctoral degree in guidance and counseling.

Out-of-State School Counselor Candidates

Any individual seeking employment as a licensed professional counselor in Mississippi must apply for licensure by submitting all required documentation for review through the Mississippi state counselor board. School counselors who hold valid licenses from a state other than Mississippi may submit a reciprocity application to obtain a standard five-year license.

The application requires sealed transcripts and documentation of a passing score on the out-of-state examination or evidence of the equivalency of the out-of-state license with current Mississippi requirements. Applicants must also submit the original licensing certificate; the state does not accept photocopied certificates, but will return originals to applicants once they have been reviewed.

School Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

Five-year standard Mississippi educator licenses, including school counselor licenses, may be renewed online or through paper applications. All licenses expire on June 30 of the fifth year. The requirements for class AA, AAA, and AAAA school counselor renewals are identical: Applicants must submit documentation of three semester hours or five continuing education credits in a content-, job-, or skill-related area, or complete the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards process.

Five-year standard Mississippi educator licenses, including school counselor licenses, may be renewed online or through paper applications

College credit courses submitted for license renewal must have a grade of "C" or higher from a regionally or nationally accredited college or university. Completed continuing education units must be issued by an accredited CEU-granting agency such as a university, college, or community college. Ten contact hours of professional development equals one continuing education credit.

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in Mississippi

These links to Mississippi-based nonprofit associations, government agencies, and advocacy groups provide useful information and resources available to anyone preparing to enter the field of school and guidance counseling.

  • Mississippi Association of Educators This group of teachers and educational support professionals works to improve salaries, benefits, and working conditions for those employed in the Mississippi state education system. MAE also offers professional development opportunities and job listings.
  • Mississippi Counseling Association This state division of the American Counseling Association draws its members from a variety of professional counseling fields, including school and guidance counselors. MCA encourages professional development and advocates on behalf of the counseling profession.
  • Mississippi Licensed Professional Counselors Association MLPCA, in partnership with MCA and the American Mental Health Counselors Association, promotes the interests of licensed professional counselors and advocates for legislation that supports the counseling community.
  • Mississippi Office of Healthy Schools This website provides information and resources for school counselors, including a toolkit for suicide prevention, therapeutic and group activities, a school health self-assessment index, and youth risk behavior survey data.
  • Mississippi Professional Educators MPE provides an alternative to union participation for teachers, administrators, and noncertified staff working in state educational institutions. It helps members access employment rights protection and offers professional services such as liability insurance.
  • Mississippi Public Education Forum This nonprofit, nonpartisan education policy research group advocates for public education issues, including funding and career-technical education. MEC manages the Mississippi Scholars Program, which prepares students for the transition to college.
  • Mississippi State Board of Examiners for Licensed Professional Counselors This state agency administers all levels and categories of licensing for professional counselors in Mississippi. Its website provides information about licensing requirements, fees, renewal, continuing education requirements, downloadable forms, and other resources.
  • Office of Counseling and Support Services This division of the Mississippi Department of Education provides resources to support the work of school counselors including academic enrichment programs, college readiness guides, career development plans, and individual success planning tools.
  • RiseUp Mississippi Through a partnership with Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning and the College Knowledge Project, this college access initiative provides counselors with resources to help students learn more about choosing and applying to colleges, standardized tests, financial and state aid, and career planning.
  • Southern Association of College Admission Counseling This regional network of enrollment and counseling professionals works collaboratively to assist students in the transition from high school to college. SACAC promotes professional growth and ethical responsibility through annual conferences, workshops, and a mentoring program.

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