How to Become a School Counselor in New Jersey

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), school counselors earn an annual median salary of $57,040, and roles are projected to grow 8% between 2018 and 2028. New Jersey offers two levels of licensure for school counselors: licensed associate counselor (LAC) and licensed professional counselor (LPC). Both types of licensure require the completion of a graduate-level degree in counseling or a related discipline, and the LPC requires additional work experience.

This guide contains more information on school counselor licensure and how to become a guidance counselor in New Jersey.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in New Jersey

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in New Jersey here

Education and Experience Requirements

The section below provides information on the educational path and work experience requirements necessary to become a school counselor in New Jersey, including information on different degree options, coursework, and proof of competency.

Education and Coursework

School counselors in New Jersey must hold a master's degree in counseling or a related discipline. All applicants to master's programs must have already completed a bachelor's degree. Undergraduate majors for counselors are typically in social and behavioral sciences, including psychology, sociology, social work, human services, public health, behavioral health, and counseling. Some bachelor's programs require an internship, practicum, or capstone project.

School counselors in New Jersey must hold a master's degree in counseling or a related discipline

Upon graduation, aspiring school counselors must apply to a master's program in counseling. These degrees typically require at least 60 credits and take 2-3 years to complete. To apply to sit for the national counselor examination (NCE), students must complete a counseling graduate program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

Courses in these programs are distributed among the core areas of counseling theory and practice as specified by the Professional Counselor Examiners Committee law: helping relationships, human growth and development, lifestyle and career development, groups, appraisal of individuals, social and cultural foundations, research and evaluation, and the counseling profession.

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

Practicum and Internship

Graduates with a master's degree can take the NCE and apply to the New Jersey Professional Counselor Examiners Committee for the LAC license directly. However, to obtain the LPC license, candidates also need to complete 4,500 hours of supervised work experience.

For graduates with 30 completed credit hours of post-master's coursework, New Jersey reduces the work experience requirement to 3,000 hours. These supervised hours must be completed within six years under the guidance of board-approved supervisors.

Application and Exam Requirements for New Jersey School Counselors

New Jersey regulates counseling practice through the New Jersey State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners, which serves as the New Jersey counselor board. Each committee on the board oversees its own licensure processes for specific counseling specialties. Alcohol and substance abuse counselors, for instance, must apply to the appropriate committee and complete a discipline-specific licensure and certification process, while school counselors must apply to the Professional Counselor Examiners Committee.

After graduating from an accredited master's in counseling program, candidates should apply with the Professional Counselor Examiners Committee to sit for the NCE. Once they pass the exam, prospective counselors can apply to the same committee for their LAC titles. Counselors must pass a criminal background check before beginning to accumulate supervised experience.

Upon completing the required amount of supervised experience, as outlined in the previous section, a practicing counselor can apply for an LPC license. Counselors who hold an LPC must meet continuing education and license renewal requirements.

Out-of-State School Counselor Candidates

Out-of-state candidates who have been actively practicing counselors for over three years can apply for New Jersey licensure by endorsement. Candidates can apply for reciprocity in New Jersey by completing the state application for licensure, paying the application fee, sending verification of their existing licenses to the committee directly from their original state licensing boards, submitting transcripts, and providing a copies of their resumes.

Out-of-state counselors must also demonstrate a passing score on the national licensing exam and provide verification of their supervised counseling experience. Reciprocity applications are reviewed monthly by the Professional Counselor Examiners Committee, and candidates can review committee meeting dates on the New Jersey counselor board website.

School Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

The state of New Jersey requires counselors to complete 40 hours of continuing education credits to renew their licenses every two years. Counselors may take continuing education credits online or in-person. Approximately 60 days before the renewal deadline, licensed and practicing counselors receive a letter in the mail with instructions on applying for license renewal online.

New Jersey requires counselors to complete 40 hours of continuing education credits to renew their licenses every two years

Eligible continuing education courses and programs must be approved by organizations like the National Board for Certified Counselors, American Counseling Association, American Psychiatric Association, or others as outlined in the New Jersey Administrative Code.

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in New Jersey

The organizations listed below can help counseling students or professional counselors advance their careers and meet other like-minded professionals. The following websites provide information on the latest developments in the field, licensing requirements, counseling program scholarships and fellowships, continuing education programs, and other resources.

  • American Counseling Association As one of the largest organizations representing licensed counselors, ACA provides resources such as continuing education courses, career services, and professional conferences.
  • American School Counselor Association ASCA supports school counselors and advances the practice of facilitating student development. The association provides publications and articles, conferences, professional development opportunities, and advocacy resources.
  • National Association for College Admission Counseling NACAC provides networking opportunities and sets ethical standards for counselors working in college admissions. They offer news and publications in the field, professional development opportunities, and advocacy information.
  • National Board for Certified Counselors NBCC is a nonprofit organization that establishes counseling certification and licensing standards across the U.S. Its website provides information on state licensure requirements and relevant contact information for questions regarding licensure.
  • New Jersey Counseling Association NJCA is the state branch of the American Counseling Association representing the interests of LACs, LPCs, counselor educators, and other counseling professionals in New Jersey. As a professional development organization, NJCA provides many local networking opportunities.
  • New Jersey College Counseling Association As a relatively new nonprofit organization, NJCCA supports professional development and career advancement for counselors working in higher education within the state.
  • New Jersey School Counselor Association NJSCA promotes the advancement of the school counseling profession. Benefits for members include conferences, job boards, career services, and updates about the field.
  • New Jersey Association for College Admission Counseling NJACAC supports the professional practice of facilitating successful student transitions to postsecondary institutions and careers. Members benefit from conferences, professional development workshops, and other resources.
  • New Jersey Association of Women Therapists NJAWT supports the advancement of women in counseling professions through networking opportunities, continuing education programs, and other professional development resources.

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