How to Become a School Counselor in New York

Formerly known as guidance counselors for the role they played in college decisions, modern school counselors assume a wider range of responsibilities. Nowadays, school counselors administer aptitude assessments, identify issues affecting school performance, and help address problems such as bullying or low attendance.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 13% growth rate for the profession, indicating a healthy job market for professionals in this field. This guide presents information on how to become a school counselor in New York. Continue reading to find out more about the school counselor licensure process in the Empire State.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in New York

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in New York here

Education and Experience Requirements

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) certifies all school counselors before they can begin their practice. The NYSED requires future school counselors to fulfill both educational and training requirements, the latter often consisting of supervised practice hours. The sections below provide more information about these requirements.

Education and Coursework

The path to school counselor certification often begins with a bachelor's degree in a field like psychology, social work, or sociology from an accredited college or university. Additionally, most states require school counselors to have at least a master's degree in the field prior to taking on roles as unsupervised practitioners. Earning a master's degree in counseling entails enrolling in 48-60 credits on top of a 120-credit bachelor's degree.

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) evaluates counseling programs at the master's and doctoral levels. Completing a CACREP-accredited program often facilitates the counseling licensure process, as most states require candidates to earn a degree with this accreditation. Many counseling programs offer specialization areas such as bilingual or preK-12 school counseling.

Individuals who hold undergraduate degrees in an unrelated field can still pursue school counselor licensure; however, they must complete prerequisite courses such as abnormal psychology, lifespan human development, and counseling techniques. Master's coursework naturally varies between schools, but most counseling programs offer classes in social and cultural issues, counseling theories, program planning, and academic and career counseling.


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


Practicum and Internship

The NYSED requires candidates to complete supervised internship hours prior to obtaining their licensure. The internship must take place in a K-12 school setting under the direct supervision of a certified pupil personnel service provider or an accredited college or university program director. Online students can complete their internship hours in their home area after securing approval.

Application and Exam Requirements for New York School Counselors

The NYSED issues two types of school counseling licenses: a provisional license and a permanent license. Provisional licensure largely depends on a candidate's educational background. Candidates can seek provisional licensure by completing an NYSED-approved school counseling program or by completing the individual evaluation pathway, which involves earning a bachelor's degree and at least 30 graduate-level credits that meet NYSED standards.

Applicants who earn provisional licensure can apply for permanent licensure after completing two years of professional experience

The NYSED also grants provisional licensure to experienced school counselors who hold certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards but do not have the required academic background. Prior to becoming board-certified school counselors, candidates must pass an exam and submit a portfolio showing how their experience meets licensure standards.

Applicants who earn provisional licensure can apply for permanent licensure after completing two years of professional experience. The NYSED prefers this experience to take place in a school setting, although it considers other pupil personnel service settings. In addition, candidates who become licensed through the individual evaluation pathway must complete a master's degree and other state-mandated training prior to applying for permanent licensure.

The NYSED requires all individuals seeking school counselor licensure to complete a background check through either the FBI or the Division of Justice Services.

Out-of-State School Counselor Candidates

New York does not currently support reciprocity agreements for school counselors licensed in other states. Out-of-state school counselors can obtain NYSED licensure by completing the individual evaluation pathway. Out-of-state school counselors with significant professional experience can request a waiver of the two-year work experience requirement. The NYSED evaluates these claims on a case-by-case basis.

The NYSED requires all out-of-state school counselors to complete state-mandated training programs in child abuse identification, dignity for all, and school violence. Additionally, candidates must complete a criminal background check before practicing in New York.

School Counselor Licence Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

The NYSED provisional school counselor licensure lasts for five years. Candidates can renew this license once only. The renewal period lasts five years. Candidates issued a provisional school counselor licensure based on the completion of an approved program pay a $50 renewal fee. Board-certified school counselors and those issued provisional licensure through the individual evaluation pathway pay a $100 renewal fee.

The NYSED provisional school counselor licensure lasts for five years; Candidates can renew this license once only

The NYSED also grants two-year extensions for holders of an initial provisional license. The NYSED grants extensions based on the applicant's circumstances. Extension applicants pay a $50 fee.

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in New York

Several regional and national organizations for school counselors provide networking, mentoring, and career advancement opportunities. In addition, these organizations help disseminate the latest research findings and developments in the field.

  • American Counseling Association of New York ACA-NY sponsors networking events for its members at least four times each year and provides free continuing education credits. It also supports and organizes advocacy activities for the advancement of the counseling profession.
  • Association of Child and Adolescent Counseling ACAC addresses the issues that impact counselors who work with children and adolescents in settings such as schools, agencies, hospitals, and private practice. The association's website features useful resources and information and provides professional development activities.
  • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs CACREP provides counseling students and professionals with the latest news and developments in the field's accreditation process.
  • International School Counselor Association ISCA provides support services that meet the needs of school counselors working in international school environments. These support services include networking and collaboration opportunities, professional development resources, and advocacy efforts.
  • National Board for Certified Counselors NBCC administers the National Certified Counselor certification, provides continuing education credits, includes members in its searchable list of certified counseling professionals, and supports the counseling profession through initiatives at the local and national levels.
  • National Education Association With more than 14,000 active communities nationwide, NEA serves all types of public education stakeholders, including school counseling professionals. NEA features research funding programs, a legislative action center, and annual events for members.
  • New York State Education Department School counselors can get the latest information regarding the state of the profession in New York on the NYSED website. This information includes policy updates, counselor education issues, work opportunities, and certification requirements.
  • New York State Association for College Admission Counseling NYSACAC caters specifically to college admission counselors. It sponsors a yearly national forum where members can exchange ideas and learn about the latest developments in the field of admissions counseling.
  • New York State School Counselor Association NYSSCA supports its members by offering members-only webinars, a regular digital newsletter, and an annual conference.
  • United Federation of Teachers The school counselor page on the United Federation of Teachers website contains up-to-date information about the New York counseling field, including a current list of support service providers, state regulations, and advocacy efforts.

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