School Counselor Licensure in Tennessee

Tennessee school counselors are licensed by the Department of Education. The credential is valid in all grades from pre-kindergarten through high school. The state’s school counselors progress through two level of licensure.

Educational Requirements for School Counselors in Tennessee

School counselors complete approved programs and earn degrees at the master's level or higher. Typically education is completed before issuance of the initial license, but there are exceptions.

Tennessee programs are subject to standards set by the Department of Education ( The DOE states that programs are encouraged to meet the standards of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Individuals who do not have teaching experience have an additional “orientation experience” at the graduate level. This gives them the opportunity to teach as well as observe teaching.

The Department of Education has provided a tool to search for approved educator programs (

Licensure is based on graduate education and an examination process. Successful work experience can allow a school counselor to achieve higher licensing.

There will be some changes to licensing policies, effective September 2015 ( The initial license will no longer be “Apprentice Special Group” but “Practitioner Special Services”. Out-of-state school counselors will start at the practitioner level, even if they hold current licenses endorsed for all grade levels.

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Licensing of Individuals Who Have Not Yet Met Educational Requirements

Individuals who have not yet met all educational requirements may be employed as school counselors in certain circumstances.

Beginning September 1, 2015 , the following may be found eligible for practitioner licenses (

  • Professionals with training in related disciplines (for example, counseling, school social work, or school psychology) if they have clinical experience and are enrolled in licensure programs
  • Professionals trained in community/ agency counseling who have had 24 semester hours of relevant coursework and are enrolled in approved school counseling programs
  • School psychology students enrolled in Tennessee programs who have completed coursework requirements but have not yet met internship requirements

In each of the above scenarios, the practitioner is required to have an hour of weekly supervision; this service must be provided by a school counselor who has had two years of experience. The local education agency must certify that the required sessions will take place.

Under earlier regulations, students who have not yet completed clinical experiences may be issued transitional licenses. Individuals with degrees in related fields such as social work and school psychology may be eligible for transitional licenses following examination; they will need to be enrolled in school counseling programs by their first renewal ( Those with degrees in community or agency counseling may be eligible for transitional licenses provided they have had 24 hours of applicable coursework and are enrolled in school counseling programs. In each of these instances, weekly supervision is required.

Examination Requirements

School counselors are required to pass the Professional School Counselor Examination. The examination is administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS). Candidates may register through the ETS website ( They may also access study resources.

The school counselor examination is selected response. The minimum passing score is 156.

Individuals may test in Tennessee or another state; the examination is available at Prometric assessment centers as well as some colleges and universities. Individuals who test in other jurisdictions will need to enter the Tennessee test code to ensure that scores get reported (

Under new regulations, the examination will be among the requirements at the practitioner level (

Progressing from Practitioner to Professional Licensing

Under new regulations, the school counselor will need to serve for three years and earn the recommendation of the director or earn thirty professional development points ( There are multiple ways to earn professional development points, including pursuing college credits or attending institutes or workshops. Earning national board certification is worth a full 30 points.

Currently, school counselors advance from apprentice level after positive evaluation by a school administrator who has been trained in current evaluation methods ( The professional must have three years of qualifying experience and must have been in the current position for at least five months.

Out-of-State School Counselors

Under new licensing regulations, out-of-state school counselors will start at the practitioner level. School counselors who are endorsed for only certain grade levels may be issued practitioner licenses if they have completed six semester hours in the grade band they're not endorsed for or have spent a year providing services in that grade band; the Department of Education stipulates that coursework must be current in content. A candidate who does not meet either of these requirements can be issued a practitioner license if there is a district that seeks his or her employment; the counselor will need to complete six semester hours of coursework before advancing.

Out-of-state applicants will present either a full, comparable state credential or the recommendation of an approved out-of-state program (

The Application Process

Application forms are available on the Department of Education website ( There are separate applications for in-state and out-of-state applicants. The Department of Education has provided a list of endorsement codes (

Application forms reflect current pathways. The Department of Education advises applicants to make sure they have the most current versions.

Some materials must be filled out by the dean or certification officer.

The Department of Education will also require official transcripts.

Applicants who have had felony convictions or drug convictions will need to provide court records.

Educators no longer receive paper licenses. However, they do receive email notification which includes instructions for accessing their personal license information.

Additional Information

The Tennessee Department of Education is the source for current license information ( The Office of Educator Licensing can be reached by telephone at (615) 532-4885 or by email at ‘Education.Licensing at’.

The Tennessee School Counselor Association is the state’s professional organization ( TSCA is not involved with the licensing process, but provides services such as mentoring (

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