School Counselor Certification in South Dakota

South Dakota school counselors are certified by the State Department of Education. They are classified as school service specialists. The certificate is issued for preschool through grade 12.

Certification is based on graduate level education. South Dakota school counselors are not required to pass a content evaluation or meet experience requirement beyond internship. Criminal background checks are carried out as part of the hiring process.

National certification through the National Board for Certified Counselors demonstrates that a school counselor has met a higher standard set of standards. While school counselors are not required to pursue national certification, South Dakota provides incentives to those who do.

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Educational Requirements for School Counselors

General Requirements: The prospective school counselor must pursue a master’s degree in school counseling or guidance. Approved programs meet the standards of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs, or CACREP ( Published rules reference the 2001 CACREP standards ( The American School Counselor Association affirms this (

CACREP-accredited school counseling programs include core counseling coursework in areas such as human growth and development, helping relationships, and social and cultural diversity. Programs include at least 600 hours of internship. Accredited programs may simultaneously meet educational standards for professional counseling licenses, but individuals who opt for dual credentialing will need to meet additional requirements regarding examination and supervised practice.

Programs that meet CACREP standards may pursue accreditation. CACREP maintains an online directory of school counseling programs and their accreditation status (

Additional Requirements: South Dakota has a recency requirement. Applicants who have not completed at least six credits in the prior five years will need to pursue additional coursework before they can be issued standard certificates. A one-year certificate may be issued to a professional who has not met the recency requirement.

The state’s educators are required to have supplemental coursework in human relations and in South Dakota Indian studies. The Department of Education has provided a list of approved courses that meet each of these requirements (; a limited number of out-of-state schools offer the approved Indian studies course. The supplemental coursework does not necessarily have to be completed before initial certification.

The Application Process

South Dakota has implemented an online application system ( Candidates may also download paper applications ( The same form is used for school counselors as teachers; school counseling candidates will select 401 as the endorsement code.

Supplemental materials are available on the Department of Education website. The applicant will need to provide verification that he or she has completed an approved program. The Department of Education will also require transcripts.

The application includes questions about legal and professional background. Applicants who answer affirmatively to any of these questions (for example, having had actions against professional licenses in any discipline), will need to provide explanation. In many cases, supporting documentation will be required.

The cost is $18 for a one-year certificate (issued to an individual who has deficiencies). It is $36 for a five-year certificate and $60 for a ten-year certificate. The latter may be issued to individuals who hold advanced degrees or have achieved National Board certification. Fees are nonrefundable.

Certification materials may be mailed to the following address:

SD Department of Education, Certification Office
800 Governors Dr.
Pierre, SD 57501

The Department of Education lists the typical processing time as ten weeks but notes the timeframe may be longer in the summer.

Applicants may use the online application system to check status. “Pending processing” means that all pertinent documents have been received.

Applicants who provide email addresses can be emailed printable certificates once it is determined that requirements have been met.

Optional National Certification

The South Dakota legislature has incentives in place for school professionals who pursue teaching certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards or school counseling certification through the National Board for Certified Counselors. Incentives include stipends paid after successful completion of requirements as well as reimbursement for initial and retake application fees.

There has historically been a close relationship between CACREP accreditation and NBCC credentialing, though the two are distinct. A list of standard requirements for the National Certified School Counselor (NCSC) credential is available on the NBCC website ( Individuals must pursue programs of at least 48 semester hours that address the following:

  • School counseling fundamentals
  • Group counseling
  • Career development
  • Appraisal of individuals
  • Cultural diversity as it relates to counseling
  • Practicum/ internship

Professionals typically work under supervision for several years before attaining certification.

NCSC candidates also go through an examination process. They are required to compose professional practice statements.

The NBCC notes that individuals who hold state licensing or certification may have some differences in requirements.

Additional Information

School counseling certification information is available through the South Dakota Department of Education ( Certification can be reached by email at 'certification at' or by telephone at 605-773-3426.

The South Dakota School Counselor Association ( is the state professional organization. The SDSCA does not issue credentials but provides professional resources.

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