How to Become a School Counselor in Nebraska

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), school and career counselors can look forward to steady job prospects across the country. The BLS projects this industry to grow by 13% between 2016 and 2026, resulting in roughly 37,000 new positions. The Nebraska State Board of Education requires that at least one school counselor be employed in each K-12 and secondary school system, which should help maintain high demand for counselors throughout the state. Additionally, educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors in Nebraska earned a mean annual salary of $60,200 in May of 2018; this value exceeded the national mean earnings for this profession.

To work as a public school counselor in Nebraska, candidates must earn a bachelor's and master's degree, as well as a teaching certificate and a school counseling endorsement. Coursework, internship, and postgraduate work requirements also apply. Read on to learn more about becoming certified and endorsed as a school counselor in Nebraska.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Nebraska

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Nebraska here

Education and Experience Requirements

Like most states, Nebraska imposes strict education and experiential requirements for school counselors seeking a certificate and endorsement. These criteria include a graduate degree, set hours related to clinical experiences and internships, minimum test scores, two years of teaching experience, and a clean background check. The following sections discuss specific requirements for Nebraska school counselors.

Education and Coursework

According to the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE), school counselors working at public schools in the state need a master's in counseling with a specialization in school counseling. The master's program must include at least 36 credits and feature fieldwork and internship components.

Candidates who have not earned a state-approved teaching certificate with endorsement must complete at least 12 additional course credits

School counselors must also hold a valid teaching certificate with a school counseling endorsement recognized by Title 92, Chapter 24 of the Nebraska Administrative Code. Many students receive their certificate and endorsement as part of their master's program. The NDE maintains a list of approved postsecondary institutions for teaching programs in the state. This list includes eight approved programs offering the school counselor endorsement. All eight have earned regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

A state-approved field endorsement enables recipients to work as school guidance counselors for students in kindergarten through sixth grade, fourth through ninth grade, or seventh through 12th grade. Candidates who have not earned a state-approved teaching certificate with endorsement must complete at least 12 additional course credits covering topics such as core curriculum design, lesson plan management, classroom management strategies, student evaluation, and instructional strategies. In addition to academic requirements, candidates must complete state-approved trainings in human relations and special education.

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

Practicum and Internship

According to the NDE, public school counselors must complete two site-based components as part of their pre-employment training. First, students must log at least 100 clock hours of clinical field experience. After completing this phase, they may begin their internship. The NDE requires school counseling students to complete at least 450 internship hours at a grade level pertaining to their endorsement.

Application and Exam Requirements for Nebraska School Counselors

The NDE serves as the issuing board for the teacher certificate and school counselor endorsement in Nebraska. A teaching certificate with a school counseling endorsement differs from a master's degree specialization in school counseling. The Nebraska Counselor Board requires school counselors to earn this specialization, although the specialization on its own holds no official weight as a state-recognized credential.

Teaching certificates in Nebraska fall into three main categories:

Initial Teaching Certificate

This credential requires a bachelor's degree in teacher education from an approved institution. Candidates must also complete state-approved trainings in human relations and special education, pass two qualifying exams, and demonstrate required college credits or work experience within the past five years.

Standard Teaching Certificate

This credential shares the same requirements as the initial teaching certificate. Additionally, candidates must hold at least two years of work experience as a contractual teacher.

Professional Teaching Certificate

This credential requires a bachelor's degree and a master's degree. Otherwise, this certificate shares the same requirements as the standard certificate.

According to the Nebraska Counselor Board, all three certificate levels require both of the following exams and scores:

Praxis I/CORE Test (Basic Skills) Candidates must earn minimum scores of 156 in reading, 162 in writing, and 150 in mathematics.
Praxis I Pre-professional Skills Test (PPST) Candidates must earn minimum scores of 170 in reading, 172 in writing, and 171 in mathematics.

Additionally, candidates seeking a school counselor endorsement must take the Professional School Counselor exam and earn a score of 156 or higher.

Candidates must also undergo a criminal background check. Their record cannot include any felony or misdemeanor convictions involving abuse, neglect, or sexual misconduct. Fingerprint cards are available with certificate applications for an extra fee. The application costs $40-$90 for candidates seeking work at nonpublic schools or $55-$105 for candidates seeking work at any public or nonpublic school.

After meeting all of these criteria, candidates may apply to add the school counseling endorsement to their Nebraska teaching certificate. Candidates who meet all criteria may seek full endorsements, while those who have not completed all of their requirements can apply for provisional endorsement.

Out-of-state School Counselor Candidates

Nebraska does not hold any school counselor reciprocity agreements with other states. However, counselors certified and/or endorsed in another state may apply for a provisional teaching certificate. This certificate requires a bachelor's degree in teacher education from an approved institution, along with completion of a state-approved human relations course.

The provisional certificate is valid for two years and cannot be renewed. Certificate-holders must complete other requirements within this timeframe to earn an initial, standard, or professional certificate. These include taking the state-approved special education course and earning the exam scores listed above.

Nebraska does not hold any school counselor reciprocity agreements with other states

Provisional certificate applicants pay the same fees as other certification candidates. Certification analysts contact applicants within 4-8 weeks of receiving the forms, at which time they request a copy of the applicant's out-of-state license. Candidates who have not resided in Nebraska for at least five years must submit a background check with a fingerprint scan.

School Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

The initial, standard, and professional certificates are each valid for five years. As long as the certificate has not been expired for more than five years, counselors may renew their credential by completing at least one of the following:

  • Work for at least one year in a "legally operated school system" since receiving their certificate.
  • Complete at least six credits of graduate-level coursework related to school counseling.

If their certificate has been expired for more than five years, candidates may renew their credential by completing at least 15 career-specific, graduate-level credits. Accepted courses include a class covering instructional techniques and a practicum containing at least 100 classroom-based hours.

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in Nebraska

The following list includes a few guides, reports, and other resources offering useful tips and career-related information for school counselors in Nebraska. Click the links below to learn more.

  • American School Counselor Association ASCA offers professional development opportunities, advocacy, and other support services for school counselors nationwide. The official ASCA website includes several state guides with specific information pertaining to Nebraska.
  • Approved Teacher Preparation Programs This list profiles all of the state-approved postsecondary programs in Nebraska, as of the 2018-19 school year. Approved schools include eight fully accredited institutions that offer school counselor master's degrees and endorsements.
  • National Board for Certified Counselors, National Certified School Counselor Professional certification can help school counselors advance in their careers and earn higher salaries. One of the most prestigious credentials in this field, the NCSC designation is open to candidates who hold a master's and at least two years of experience.
  • NDE Application Manual This resource provides a detailed overview of prerequisites, application fees, renewal processes, and other guidelines for different certificates and permits available to school counselors in Nebraska.
  • NDE Endorsement Applications School counselors in Nebraska must add an official endorsement to their teaching certificate to work at public schools in the state. This page contains links for full and partial endorsement applications.
  • NDE School Counselor Endorsement Guidelines This official guide from the NDE contains a full list of education and experiential prerequisites for the Nebraska school counselor endorsement, along with some institutional guidelines for employing counselors.
  • NDE Teacher Certificate Guide This directory page highlights different certificates, permits, endorsements, and other credentials for counselors and other educators in Nebraska. The website covers criminal background and fingerprinting checks, testing requirements, and state-approved training courses.
  • Nebraska School Counselor Association NSCA operates as the official professional association for school counselors in Nebraska. Site visitors can learn about many topics, including professional development opportunities, advocacy events, and awards and scholarships.
  • Nebraska Testing Requirements This guide offers an overview of Praxis testing requirements for school counselors and other educators in the state, including minimum scores for each exam, test center locations, and registration information.
  • School Counselors as CTE Stakeholders This ASCA report highlights different ways school counselors can help secondary students finish school and choose a suitable career. It also discusses the Nebraska Career Education Model, which integrates career technical education into high school curricula to prepare students to attend college and enter the workforce.

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