How to Become a School Counselor in North Carolina

According to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of school counselor positions should increase by 13% by 2026. That 13% growth rate far outstrips the national average. Furthermore, another data set from the BLS demonstrates a significant demand and a healthy mean annual wage for school counselors in North Carolina. As of May 2018, there were nearly 6,400 school counselor positions in the Tar Heel State, and those counselors brought home more than $50,000 per year.

Read on for more information about North Carolina counseling and how to pursue this meaningful and stable career.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in North Carolina

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in North Carolina here

Education and Experience Requirements

The following section includes more information about how to become a school counselor in North Carolina. We provide information about degrees, coursework, and professional experience that you must meet before becoming a school counselor or guidance counselor in the Tar Heel State.

Education and Coursework

Before starting the path to becoming a school counselor in North Carolina, interested candidates must first hold a bachelor's degree in any field, although a relevant field such as counseling or psychology gives them a leg up as they continue their studies. Next, they must complete a master's degree in school counseling from a state-approved and regionally accredited program. Required coursework topics in this program include human growth and development, career development, cultural development, developing helping relationships, and the professional identity of school counseling.

counselor candidates must hold a bachelor's degree in any field and a master's degree in school counseling from a state-approved and regionally accredited program

Regionally accredited and state-approved master's programs in school counseling typically require 36-54 credits, with many curricula requiring around 48 credits. These programs often take two years of full-time study to complete. Programs may also deliver coursework asynchronously, allowing students flexibility while they complete the necessary coursework and field experience.

For more information, please consult this page about counseling education and careers.

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

Practicum and Internship

To become a guidance counselor in North Carolina, all master's degree candidates must complete an internship under the supervision of a "highly qualified" and currently licensed school counselor. Most North Carolina school counseling internships include students observing their mentors and applying what they learned in the classroom in a safe environment. They complete these requirements over the course of their master's programs.

Application and Exam Requirements for North Carolina School Counselors

Who handles school counselor licensure in North Carolina?

The North Carolina State Board of Education oversees all matters related to North Carolina counseling, including applications and exam requirements. The North Carolina Counselor Board also handles all matters related to licensure for other administrative positions within schools, including principal positions.

What are the requirements for school counselor licensure in North Carolina?

The licensure and certification process for school counselors differs from other specializations, such as licensed substance abuse counselors or licensed professional counselors.

As mentioned in previous sections, applicants must hold a master's in school counseling from a regionally accredited and Board-approved program to earn consideration for licensure. Beyond a master's degree, all school counselor candidates in North Carolina must Pass the Praxis II: School Guidance and Counseling (0420) examination with a minimum score of 570. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) administers the Praxis, and students can register to take the appropriate examination through the ETS website.

Out-of-State School Counselor Candidates


School counselors who hold licensure in other states can earn licensure in North Carolina by meeting the following two requirements:

  • Adequate Praxis II scores
  • School counselor board certification from the National Board

Reciprocity Agreements

North Carolina maintains reciprocity for school counseling licensure with the following states and territories:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Guam
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

School Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

In North Carolina, school counselors must renew their licenses every five years. They can renew their licenses by completing the required amount of continuing education courses, eight credits, during the five-year renewal period. Each credit equals 10 hours, one quarter hour, or two-thirds of a semester hour.

In North Carolina, school counselors must renew their licenses every five years

Those eight credits include the following requirements:

  • Three general credits overseen by local education agency
  • Two renewal credits pertaining to digital learning competencies

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in North Carolina

The following section provides a list of 10 helpful professional organizations and resources that students and professionals can consult to learn more about licensure requirements or advance their school counseling careers.

  • ACT Alongside the SAT, the ACT is increasingly becoming the predominant standardized test for college admissions processes. High school counselors should familiarize themselves with the ACT and how it works.
  • American Counseling Association A professional organization with a national scope, ACA exists to further the counseling profession. The organization accomplishes that mission through continuing education and advocacy.
  • American School Counselor Association ASCA aims to assist school counselors who help students develop professionally, academically, and socially. The association offers professional development and networking opportunities.
  • College Foundation of North Carolina A public service North Carolina provides, CFNC assists students in planning, applying, and paying for college. High school counselors should familiarize themselves with what CFNC offers.
  • National Association for College Admission Counseling Counting more than 15,000 professionals among its ranks, NACAC provides professional support and networking opportunities to high school guidance and college counselors.
  • National Board for Certified Counselors NBCC awards a variety of credentials to different types of counselors to help them advance in their specific counseling field.
  • North Carolina Board of Licensed Professional Counselors The North Carolina Counselor Board's website provides up-to-date information on topics such as licensure, along with general information about the Board, its goals, and its actions.
  • North Carolina Counseling Association The NCCA delivers professional development opportunities to counselors in the Tar Heel State. The association offers local chapters and networking meetups.
  • North Carolina School Counselor Association NCSCA aims to further excellence in the counseling profession. Services include a fall conference, workshops, and a newsletter.
  • School Counseling in North Carolina This PDF information sheet provides a comprehensive overview of best practices in school counseling and how North Carolina school counselors can provide their students with the best services.

Explore More Pathways to Becoming a Counselor in North Carolina

Learn How to Become a Rehabilitation Counselor in North Carolina Learn How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor in North Carolina
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