How to Become a School Counselor in Ohio

School counselors occupy an increasingly vital role in the educational teams who strive to support students' success. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that demand in this field should increase 13% from 2016-2026, which is faster than the national average. A student exploring how to become a school counselor in Ohio should begin by examining pertinent qualities, which include compassion, empathy, and interpersonal skills, as this role requires managing intimate knowledge of students and their families.

Each candidate must possess an advanced degree in school counseling or a related field, along with a professional pupil services license in school counseling. This guide contains specific educational, licensing information, and resources for aspiring counselors.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Ohio

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Ohio here

Education and Experience Requirements

The section below includes information about which degrees Ohio students should consider at the bachelor's and master's degree levels. A student may also earn a doctorate in counseling, but a professional must hold a master's at minimum to obtain licensure. This section also includes some details about coursework, credit requirements, and licensure requirements.

Aspiring counselors should strongly consider programs that hold accreditation through the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

Since guidance counselors directly influence students' lives and handle sensitive information, each professional will need a bachelor's and a master's degree that prepares them for field experiences. While schools do not require a specific bachelor's degree, students should consider a major in counseling, psychology, or sociology. Programs typically require at least 120 credits. Common courses include counseling methods, probability and statistics, research methodology, developmental psychology, theories of personality, and biological foundations of psychology.

A master's degree typically requires a minimum of 60 credits. Core courses include law and ethics, group counseling, career guidance, leadership and advocacy, social justice practices, and intervention methods.

Aspiring counselors should strongly consider programs that hold accreditation through the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Schools with CACREP accreditation indicate to employers and the state that students understand pertinent knowledge and skills for the field. To qualify for licensure, each student must obtain a BCI/FBI background check, provide proof of graduate-level degree completion, and meet the minimum score on the Ohio assessment for educators.


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


Practicum and Internship

The state of Ohio requires each aspiring school counselor to complete at least 600 contact hours in a K-12 school setting. A licensed school counselor must oversee the students' initial induction year. Ohio also accepts licensed educators who hold two years of teaching experience or candidates with three years of licensed counseling experience in another state.

Application and Exam Requirements for Ohio School Counselors

The Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist Board prefers that each student holds a CACREP-accredited master's degree to qualify for the national counselor examination (NCE) and obtain licensure. However, the National Board for Certified Counselors accepts students from non-CACREP programs who provide additional documentation.

The prequalification process requires an applicant to submit official transcripts, complete a BCI and FBI background check, and complete the online application. Once approved, Ohio allows students six months to complete the exam. Otherwise, candidates must repeat the process.

The NCE contains 200 multiple-choice questions and requires just under four hours to complete. This exam does not utilize a curve, so students' scores do not alter based on other learners taking the exam. However, examinees may compare their score to national results. The exam assesses pertinent knowledge and skills, including:

  • Human growth and development
  • Social and cultural diversity
  • Counseling and helping relationships
  • Group counseling and group work
  • Career counseling
  • Assessment and testing
  • Research and program evaluation
  • Professional counseling orientation and ethical practice

Applicants should note that the process may vary, depending on students' specialization. The Ohio Counselor Board may provide temporary school counseling licenses to professionals who can provide time-sensitive employment offers.

Out-of-State School Counselor Candidates

Professional counselors can practice out-of-state. Requirements will vary by state, so counselors need to research if their licensing state holds reciprocity agreements or endorsement opportunities with others. For instance, Ohio maintains a reciprocity agreement for Kentucky counselors, which allows professionals to easily transfer their licenses.

Contrastingly, professionals with an active license for the past five years may qualify for an endorsement. Each counselor must submit the following:

  • Application and fees
  • Out-of-state license
  • Official transcripts
  • Any additional information the Ohio Counselor Board requests

The counselor professional standards committee may also examine applicants' school accreditation, coursework, out-of-state license exam requirements, practical learning experience hours, and years of practice.

School Counselor Licence Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

The Ohio Counselor Board requires each practitioner to renew their license every two years. Counselors receive four renewal notices within a 90-day timeframe. To renew a counseling license, each professional must complete 30 hours of continuing education coursework, which includes at least three hours of ethics courses and three hours of supervision training.

The Ohio Counselor Board requires each practitioner to renew their license every two years

Under extenuating circumstances, students may submit a written request for an extension or waiver from continuing education courses. Ohio charges $83.50 to renew a professional counseling license, and late submission results in an additional $40 fee. The Ohio Counseling Board issues a renewal receipt. Professionals should keep this as proof in case of an audit.

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in Ohio

Licensed counselors can explore a vast network of professionals who actively contribute to the field. The resources below can assist emerging and practicing counselors to enhance their skills.

  • American School Counselor Association The ASCA strives to support students and professionals in the field by providing cutting-edge resources, statistical data, publications, access to conferences, and professional development.
  • Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development The AMCD provides resources that help counselors promote ethnic and racial empathy. AMCD offers leadership academy competency opportunities, growth workshops, mentorship, and a 25-state division network.
  • Counseling Academic and Professional Honor Society International Established in 1985, this international honor society promotes professional excellence in counseling. Students gain access to annual conventions, mentorships, practical experience, leadership development and research opportunities, plus fellowships.
  • Journal of School Counseling The JSC provides articles that discuss best practices for professional school counselors. Content focuses on innovation, theory and research, professional development, emerging issues, and current dilemmas.
  • National Association of College Admission Counseling The NACAC strives to connect students and professionals. Members can explore webinars, workshops, job fairs, national conferences, and micro-communities that focus on specific areas of the counseling field.
  • National Board for Certified Counselors The NBCC identifies as a grassroots network. Certified counselors can receive access to a network of professionals who remain passionate about developing innovative solutions to modern problems in the field.
  • National Education Association The NEA contains over three million members who hold roles in education. Membership includes access to discussion forums, innovative field techniques, news, online resources, and webinars.
  • Ohio Association of College Admission Counseling OACAC members are a diverse population of professionals who raise awareness and advocate for college counseling. Representatives can take part in cutting-edge professional development, conferences, and multiple award opportunities.
  • Ohio School Counselor Association The OSCA remains the single professional organization that specifically supports school counselors in Ohio. Members receive access to newsletters, scholarships, grants, leadership programs, conferences, and counselor accountability reports.

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