How to Become a School Counselor in Rhode Island

Guidance counselors play an important role in schools, helping students reach their full academic potential. These professionals also help students overcome struggles at home and in the classroom. The demand for school counselors in the U.S. continues to increase, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting 13% growth in the industry through 2026.

The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) issues teaching and counseling certifications for the state. This guide outlines how to become a school counselor in Rhode Island, including education and experience requirements.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Rhode Island

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Rhode Island here

Education and Experience Requirements

In Rhode Island, school counselors need certification that covers preschool through 12th grade. The state offers a few different pathways for this credential. Candidates can earn certification through a state-approved program, credential review, or reciprocity. All candidates need to complete several hours of supervised experience as well.

Education and Coursework

Rhode Island counselors need bachelor's and advanced degrees from regionally accredited institutions. Individuals who attend university in Rhode Island must earn a degree approved by RIDE. Currently, one university offers a RIDE-approved degree for school counseling.

Rhode Island counselors need bachelor's and advanced degrees from regionally accredited institutions

Students take courses in core content competencies set by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP). Competencies include interventions to promote academic development, strategies to promote equity in student achievement, and the ethical and legal considerations of school counseling. Rhode Island counseling master's degrees offer courses in development and cross cultural theories of counseling, group counseling, and designing and implementing a counseling program.

Alternatively, counseling candidates can enroll in a program from the Credential Review Consortium Institution (CRCI). These programs allow people with master's degrees and some work experience to follow an alternative path to certification. Candidates who pursue this option still need to meet all of the other requirements.

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

Practicum and Internship

All candidates need to complete an internship with 300 contact hours. In the approved master's program, the supervised experience includes a counseling pre-practicum, a practicum, and two internship courses spread out over two semesters. Prospective counselors who do not enroll in the approved master's program must also complete a 300-hour internship to qualify for certification.

Application and Exam Requirements for Rhode Island School Counselors

In addition to education and practicum requirements, licensure candidates need to pass the Praxis II Professional School Counselor Test with a score of at least 156. The exam covers core information, like the history and role of school counselors, human growth and development, and ethical and legal issues.

licensure candidates need to pass the Praxis II Professional School Counselor Test with a score of at least 156

Candidates take the exam on a computer in a testing center. The exam consists of 120 multiple-choice questions and test takers get two hours to complete it. Prospective counselors can register for the exam online. They can also find plenty of study materials on the ETS website.

Applicants applying from non-English-speaking programs need to earn at least a 64 on the Versant Pro Speaking and English Assessment. Along with the application, all candidates need to submit an official transcript from an accredited university and a document demonstrating that they completed a state-approved program. The transcript should include the 300-hour internship. Applicants should also submit their test scores from the Praxis exam.

Out-of-State School Counselor Candidates

School counselors with valid certifications in another state can transfer their educational credentials to Rhode Island. These counselors still need to comply with Rhode Island's testing requirements, earning at least a 156 on the Praxis II Professional School Counselor Exam.

School Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

Rhode Island includes three levels of certification that education professionals must renew; initial certification lasts three years, full certification lasts five years, and advanced certification lasts seven years.

Starting in 2020, the renewal process in Rhode Island will change from performance evaluation to professional development credits. Those with initial certification need to earn 30 professional learning units (PLUs) annually to renew their certifications and advance to the full credential. Once at the full certification level, counselors need to earn 20 PLUs each year -- 100 PLUs total -- to renew their certifications. They may earn these credits by taking university courses, participating in workshops, attending conferences, or obtaining National Board Certification.

in Rhode Island, initial certification lasts three years, full certification lasts five years, and advanced certification lasts seven years

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in Rhode Island

Rhode Island counseling students and professionals can access many resources to help them succeed in their careers. Many of the resources below offer helpful tips on how to become a guidance counselor in Rhode Island, plus networking, continuing education, and professional development opportunities.

  • American School Counselor Association ASCA provides members with professional development opportunities through conferences, publications, and webinars. Members can also get involved with legislative issues concerning school guidance counselors.
  • ASCA Scene SCENE functions as a forum where ASCA members can discuss important issues and access free resources. Members can ask for and give advice about challenging counseling situations.
  • Prepare RI This state initiative prepares Rhode Island students for college and their careers. Counselors can implement principles of PrepareRI by creating individual learning plans for each student and guiding learners to succeed.
  • Redesigning School Counseling Webcast Series The American Student Achievement Institute runs this monthly webcast series. It explores ways to improve school counseling programs by focusing on aspects like achievement data.
  • Rhode Island School Counselors Association As the statewide association for school counseling, RISCA connects members through conferences and other events. It also provides resources on counseling licensure and renewal.
  • Rhode Island Department of Education RIDE outlines how guidance counselors can comply with state standards while working with students. It also explains how school counselors can support childrens' academic and career goals through individualized learning plans.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services runs this website, which provides information about bullying prevention in schools. Counselors can access resources like a fact page about bullying and a training center for bullying prevention strategies.

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