School Counselor Licensure in North Carolina

North Carolina school counselors are licensed by the State Department of Public Instruction. They are considered special service personnel. Licensure is based on education and examination. Background checks are carried out at the district level. The American School Counselor Association notes that North Carolina does not impose experience requirements.

School Counselor Educational Requirements

Students must complete approved school counseling programs at the master's level or higher (

Examination Requirements

North Carolina school counselors take the Professional School Counselor Examination (#5421 of the Praxis series for educators). They must pass with a score of 156 (

The Professional School Counselor Examination is based on the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National Model. It covers school counseling foundations, management, accountability, and service delivery. Human development, professional roles, ethical principles, and historical context are covered under foundations. Development and maintenance of a comprehensive school counseling program is the focus of the management component. Research, program evaluation, and assessment are covered under accountability. Individual and group guidance, schoolwide intervention, and consultation and collaboration are among the topics covered under service delivery; this is the largest content category, comprising approximately 45% of the examination items.

The Professional School Counselor Examination is administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS). ETS has made a study guide available in PDF form ( Candidates can also purchase practice tests.

The examination is multiple choice. It is administered via computer during monthly testing windows ( Candidates can schedule their examinations at Prometric assessment center or at authorized universities testing sites. Praxis tests are available in the following North Carolina cities:

  • Asheville
  • Boone
  • Charlotte
  • Durham
  • Fayetteville
  • Greensboro
  • Greenville
  • Raleigh
  • Wilmington

Candidates can find test codes for assessment centers in North Carolina (and other states) by clicking “find test centers” ( Registration can be carried out online. Test takers will pay a $115 fee (

Candidates who test within North Carolina can expect their scores to be reported to the Department of Public Instruction. Candidates who test in other jurisdictions will need to designate the Department as a score recipient.

School counseling candidates who have met all requirements are issued Standard Professional 2 (SP2) Professional Educator's Licenses, valid in grades K-12.

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The Application Process

Application materials are available on the website of the Department of Public Instruction (

The licensing agency will require official transcripts.

The applicant will also submit Form V, verifying completion of an approved program. (The school will note the program’s accreditations and other pertinent information and return it to the applicant.)

The application fee for in-state candidates is $55. Out-of-state candidates pay $85. Fees can be paid by check, money order, or credit card. (A credit card payment authorization form is included among the application forms.)

Application materials are to be sent to the following address:

NC Department of Public Instruction Licensure Section
6365 Mail Service Center
Raleigh NC 27699-6365

The Department of Public Instruction notes that incomplete applications packages are returned to sender.

Applicants who wish to have materials returned may include stamped, self-addressed envelopes.

Out-of-State School Counselors

Out-of-state applicants will need to provide photocopies of their credentials. They are directed to make clear copies of both front and back.

North Carolina grants reciprocity to licensed school counselors from other states ( Out-of-state school counselors can be issued standard SP2 credentials if they have 1) met North Carolina testing requirements or 2) earned national board certification.

Board certification can be a lengthy process, involving portfolio preparation as well as testing. Candidates can find information on the website of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (

Out-of-state school counselors who are not board certified and have not met the testing requirement but have three years of experience have an additional option. They can be issued SP2 licenses after a year of successful service in the North Carolina schools.

Professionals can find experience verification forms on the website of the Department of Public Instruction. They will send Form E to their former employers. The employer will list dates of service, full- or part-time status, and job title (e.g. teacher or counselor). The employer will send the completed form back to the applicant.

Out-of-state school counselors may be issued Standard Professional 1 (SP1) Professional Educator's Licensing if the examination requirement has not yet been met.

Internationally Educated Applicants

Internationally educated applicants must have their education evaluated for equivalency by a professional evaluation service. International applicants will also need to document a passport, permanent resident card, or work authorization.

Additional Information

School counselor credentialing information is available through the Licensure Section of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction ( The Licensure Section can be reached by email at 'asklicensure at'. Licensure can also be reached by telephone at 1-919-807-3310 or (within North Carolina) toll-free at 1-800-577-7994. Hours of operation are 8:00 to 5:00 Eastern Time.

The North Carolina School Counselor Association is the state's professional organization and a division of the American School Counselor Association. The NCSCA does not issue licenses but provides other services such as mentoring (

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