How to Become a School Counselor in South Dakota

School and guidance counselors play a vital role in children's academic, social, and emotional development. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that from 2016 to 2026, the need for school counselors should grow 13%, must faster than the median projected growth for all professions.

As job responsibilities vary, each state sets different requirements for how to become a counselor. To earn a counseling license in South Dakota, prospective school counselors must meet education and experience benchmarks. This guide contains the latest information on how to become a school or guidance counselor in South Dakota.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in South Dakota

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in South Dakota here

Education and Experience Requirements

This section contains essential information concerning education and experience requirements for aspiring South Dakota school counselors. The state offers more than one licensure pathway. To learn about the latest regulatory updates, visit the South Dakota Department of Education website.

Education and Coursework

Like in most states, South Dakota school and guidance counselors-in-training can possess bachelor's degrees in any academic subject. However, college students who have selected counseling as a career may want to earn a bachelor's in counseling degree. Although not a requirement, this degree may make graduates more competitive when searching for jobs.

prospective counselors may either earn a master's degree in school counseling or earn a counseling master's degree in any specialty, pass an exam, and work under a licensed school counselor for at least one year

After earning their bachelor's degree, prospective counselors can choose from two education pathways. The first requires applicants to earn a master's degree in school counseling. In-state school counseling programs involve 48-60 credits and include thesis and non-thesis options. Essential coursework includes diagnosis and intervention in counseling; career and lifespan development; and counseling issues in culture, diversity, and advocacy. School counseling programs also include practica and internships.

South Dakota's counseling board provides a second pathway for students seeking initial school counselor licensure. Students can earn a counseling master's degree in any specialty. However, they must also pass an exam and work under a licensed school counselor for at least one year. This on-the-job training allows counselors to apply their education while developing a more specialized skill set.


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


Practicum and Internship

The best school and guidance counselor programs in South Dakota include multiple practica and at least one internship. During practica, students observe school counselors in different educational settings. In internships, learners take a more hands-on approach, working alongside trained school and guidance counselors. Internships also require learners to work full time at their assigned schools.

Application and Exam Requirements for South Dakota School Counselors

The South Dakota Board of Education regulates school and guidance counseling licensure. Before submitting documents, licensure candidates first create an account on the Board of Education's website. South Dakota does not use an independent school counselor board.

Application Requirements

If applicants possess a master's in school counseling, they need only take a one-hour training course in suicide prevention before submitting their official transcripts to the South Dakota Department of Education. Counselors complete a district-level criminal background check when they seek employment.

Licensed school counselors with at least three years of experience can become mentor school counselors. This certification not only allows counselors to mentor less experienced peers, but also leads to salary increases and greater job security.

The South Dakota Department of Education takes 8-10 weeks to process applications.

Other Requirements

Licensure candidates who possess a master's in counseling — but not school counseling — must take the PRAXIS Professional School Counselor Exam and earn a minimum 164 score. Each state sets it own score cutoffs. After candidates pass the PRAXIS and work under a mentor for one year, they can apply for state licensure.

Out-of-State School Counselor Candidates

South Dakota currently holds teacher reciprocity agreements with 40 states. Out-of-state school or guidance counselors planning to relocate to South Dakota must meet the state's reciprocity guidelines:

  • Possess an active license (not temporary or provisional)
  • Complete internship and practicum experiences during their master's programs
  • Pass a background check

Out-of-state counselors who meet these requirements submit an out-of-state education verification request to the South Dakota Department of Education. Just like with first-time applicants, most out-of-state applicants wait two months before receiving their licenses.

School Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

South Dakota counselors can earn a five-year initial license — the license all new counselors receive — or a 10-year professional license. Most states use this system. Counselors must complete six continuing education hours each year to renew their licenses. They can earn these hours through university coursework, specialized learning, or district-provided professional development.

South Dakota counselors can earn a five-year initial license — the license all new counselors receive — or a 10-year professional license

As licensed counselors already have advanced degrees, they complete fewer renewal requirements than education professionals who hold only bachelor's degrees. Employers keep track of professional development hours. Near the renewal date, counselors and their principals sign off on earned hours and submit paperwork to the South Dakota Department of Education.

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in South Dakota

Although becoming a school counselor in South Dakota requires education, intelligence, and compassion, most learners need support throughout their education. Use the 10 resources below to help you find the right program, succeed in school, and obtain your ideal job.

  • American Counseling Association One of the largest counseling organizations in the U.S., the ACA boasts extensive professional development resources. Its government affairs division advocates for the counseling profession at the state and federal levels.
  • American School Counselor Association The ASCA provides its members with excellent benefits, including discounts on professional development courses, liability insurance, and many free resources. Student members save approximately 50% on membership fees compared to professional members.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics The BLS boasts the latest information on how to become a school or guidance counselor in South Dakota. Visitors can review salary and employment trends for counselors in all states.
  • South Dakota State University School Counseling (MS) Prospective graduate students should consider this rigorous master's in school counseling program, which meets all requirements for South Dakota licensure. Review this program's application and curriculum requirements to learn what to look for in a master's degree.
  • Online Resources for High School Counselors The South Dakota Board of Regents provides this resource to K-12 public school counselors. The page helps high school counselors prepare their students for college admissions at in-state universities.
  • Rapid City Area Schools RCAS created this resource for district elementary and secondary school counselors. Counselors-in-training can also use this site to learn about the latest school and guidance counseling best practices.
  • School Counselor World Aspiring elementary school guidance and school counselors should consult SCW. The toolbox section boasts hundreds of resources, including activities, videos, and professional development opportunities. The SCW store sells educational apps that counselors can use with young children.
  • South Dakota Counseling Association As the ACA's state branch, the SDCA provides specialized resources to South Dakota counselors. The SDCA represents professionals in all counseling subfields and boasts leadership training and mentorship opportunities.
  • South Dakota School Counselor Association South Dakota school and guidance counselors join SDSCA for the association's excellent benefits, including mentoring programs, leadership training, and professional development. Counseling students in master's programs can join at a reduced membership rate.

Explore More Pathways to Becoming a Counselor in South Dakota

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