How to Become a School Counselor in South Carolina

School counselors work in elementary, middle, and high schools. They guide students with balancing schoolwork and their home lives, along with helping teenagers explore college and career opportunities. As of May 2019, about 5,120 school counselors worked in South Carolina, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

To become a school counselor in South Carolina, you need a license from the state. You can find out more from the South Carolina State Department of Education. Our guide also provides information on salary figures and school counselor jobs in South Carolina.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in South Carolina

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in South Carolina here

Education and Experience Requirements

To fulfill South Carolina counselor board requirements, aspiring school and guidance counselors must meet education requirements. Although the state does not require internships for licensure, gaining experience during your counselor preparation program can set you apart from other applicants.

Education and Coursework

School and guidance counselors in South Carolina can possess bachelor's degrees in any academic subject. This flexibility allows for both recent college graduates and experienced professionals researching new careers to enter the counseling field. Degrees must come from a regionally accredited college or university.

School and guidance counselors in South Carolina can possess bachelor's degrees in any academic subject but should pursue a master's degree in counseling to meet educational requirements

The South Carolina school counselor board also requires counselors to earn a master's degree. Although aspiring school counselors can earn a master's degree in any subject, approved programs must meet specific education requirements for either the state's primary or secondary school counselor endorsements. As a result, prospective students should select a master's in counseling program at an in-state university.

The best master's programs allow students to choose a specialization. Learners take courses in child and adolescent counseling, lifespan development, and counseling techniques in schools. Mostmaster's programs require 51-66 credits and take two years to complete.

Professionals who already possess a master's degree should research counselor preparation programs that do not confer master's degrees. These programs typically take less time to complete and save students money on tuition.

You can learn more about both experiences in the following section.

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

Practicum and Internship

Master's programs require practica and internships wherein students work under experienced counselors at primary and secondary schools, often in their home communities. Internships and practica provide valuable hands-on experience that helps learners develop school and guidance counseling best practices. Typical practica last a few weeks, while internships take at least one semester. All South Carolina counselors must complete these requirements to earn a school counseling license.

Application and Exam Requirements for South Carolina School Counselors

Near the end of a master's program, students complete two significant milestones that lead to a South Carolina counseling license. As South Carolina awards licensure to many types of counselors (e.g., marriage counselor, drug abuse counselor), ensure that you follow specific requirements for school counseling licensure.

Passing the PRAXIS

The first milestone involves passing the PRAXIS Professional School Counselor Exam. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) administers the test and provides ample preparation resources. This exam includes 120 multiple-choice questions that cover four broad categories: foundations, delivery of services, management, and accountability. Candidates have two hours to finish. For each test, individual states set different passing scores. In South Carolina, candidates must earn a minimum score of 156 (out of 200).

Applying for Licensure

The second milestone requires aspiring counselors to submit an official application to the South Carolina Department of Education. A completed application includes official transcripts, PRAXIS scores, and a criminal background check. Once applicants submit their materials, they can check their application status on the Department of Education website. Counselors use this portal to apply for and renew their licenses. The website also includes the latest information for out-of-state school counselors on how to become licensed in South Carolina.

Out-of-State School Counselor Candidates

Out-of-state counselors with valid licenses can transfer their licenses by completing a few easy steps. Licensed counselors from any state — including the District of Columbia and Guam — may apply. First, applicants submit the following materials:

  • A completed application
  • A valid counseling license
  • Academic transcripts from all prior colleges and universities
  • A new criminal background check

South Carolina accepts both initial and professional out-of-state counseling licenses. The state does not discriminate between out-of-state counselors who possess counseling licenses and those with a counseling endorsement as part of a teaching license. As with in-state applicants, the process may take up to one month.

School Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

In South Carolina, initial school counseling licenses last for five years, and professional licenses remain valid for 10 years. To renew or advance their licenses, school counselors must complete at least 120 professional development (PD) credits every five years.

In South Carolina, initial school counseling licenses last for five years, and professional licenses remain valid for 10 years

As they already possess master's degrees, counselors need not take these credits through a university. Instead, they can complete PD courses through their school districts. South Carolina also requires a specialized course in suicide prevention training. Finally, to renew or advance a school counseling license, South Carolina counselors must work in a public K-12 school.

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in South Carolina

As you plan for your career as a school or guidance counselor, consider joining one or more professional organizations that can help you on your journey. The organizations and resources below provide excellent resources to aspiring school and guidance counselors.

  • American Counseling Association The ACA provides specialized resources to U.S. school counselors, including training programs and materials. ACA members also receive access to PD courses at no additional cost beyond the annual membership fee.
  • American School Counselor Association Public and private school counselors from all over the U.S. join the ASCA. In addition to professional development and networking resources, membership benefits include liability insurance and private job boards.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics A division of the Department of Labor, the BLS tracks job growth and average salaries for many professions. The website boasts the latest information on how to become a school or guidance counselor in South Carolina.
  • Clemson University Clemson University offers one of the best school counseling programs in South Carolina. Prospective students should not only consider this rigorous program, but also use it to measure other master's programs' academic quality.
  • The CollegeBoard The CollegeBoard provides high school counselors free online and in-person professional development courses. The programs help counselors prepare students for standardized tests, including the SAT and AP exams.
  • Elementary School Counseling This informative website boasts free resources to help elementary counselors become more effective in small group and individual settings. Visitors can access over 20 free activities to encourage young children to develop academically and socially.
  • School Counselor Resources An ideal resource for primary school counselors, SCR provides educational books that help young children adapt to sudden life changes (e.g., divorce, death of a parent). SCR also sells informational guides so counselors stay up to date with counseling best practices.
  • "Sesame Street This long-running children's program offers parents, educators, and counselors excellent resources to help children with autism. Resources include videos, activities, and storybooks, which "Sesame Street" updates regularly.
  • South Carolina Counseling Association The SCCA supports counselors from all backgrounds. Membership benefits include an extensive professional network, professional development opportunities, and discounts on medical services. Undergraduate and graduate students pay a reduced membership fee.
  • South Carolina Department of Education This authoritative website describes how to become a school or guidance counselor in South Carolina. The South Carolina Department of Education provides detailed instructions on how to earn, advance, or transfer a school counseling license.

Employment and Salary Outlook for School Counselors in South Carolina

As of May 2019, the approximately 5,000 school counselors in South Carolina earned a mean annual salary of $54,280. This figure didn't quite match national mean earnings of about $60,160 during that same month. In comparison, school counselors in top-paying states like California and New Jersey earn an annual mean wage of $74,530 and $72,050, respectively.

Multiple factors contribute to this discrepancy, like cost of living and rural versus urban schools. The table below explores these figures in more depth, considering the salaries and employment numbers for different metropolitan areas in the state and listing the salaries for the highest-paid 10% and lowest-paid 10% of school counselors in each metro area.

Employment and Salary Outlook for Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors (May 2019)
Metro Areas Number Employed Annual Mean Wage Annual 10th Percentile Wage Annual 90th Percentile Wage
Charleston-North Charleston 630 $57,360 $34110 $80,300
Columbia 1640 $53,160 $33,020 $82,010
Florence 250 $43,690 $28,710 $64,800
Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin 740 $57,010 $32,320 $89,150
Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort 150 $64,920 $35,760 $97,290
Lower Savannah South Carolina nonmetropolitan area 180 $52,880 $33,000 $77,040
Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach 190 $72,960 $52,230 $99,190
Northeast South Carolina nonmetropolitan area 200 $50,090 $29,020 $71,920
Spartanburg 410 $51,710 $27,260 $79,460
Sumter 100 $54,990 $41,290 $76,100
Upper Savannah South Carolina nonmetropolitan area 230 $41,490 $24,900 $69,520
Source: BLS

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