How to Become a School Counselor in Tennessee

According to the U.S. News & World Report, school counselors are among the nation's best social services jobs for 2019. School counselors in Tennessee serve rural and metropolitan preK-12 campuses across the state.

Throughout the Volunteer State, school and guidance counselor candidates must hold a master's degree in school counseling or have already completed at least 30 credits in a master's program. The Tennessee Department of Education also considers issuing certifications to graduates of community or mental health counseling master's programs.

Candidates for school counselor certification in Tennessee must satisfy field experience requirements by completing a one-semester internship through a state-approved educator preparation program (EPP). Aspiring counselors must also receive a recommendation for licensure from the provider of the EPP and pass the Praxis II exam to qualify for certification.

Read on to learn more about how to become a school counselor in Tennessee.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Tennessee

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Tennessee here

Education and Experience Requirements

The Tennessee Department of Education issues two types of licenses to school counselors: practitioner and professional. All aspiring counselors must earn a master's degree and complete a state-approved EPP to qualify for certification. Practitioner licensure candidates can earn temporary licensure before completing their master's programs or work experience requirements; however, professional licensure candidates must have already graduated and completed their required work hours.

Education and Coursework

To become a school counselor in Tennessee, a candidate must hold a master's degree in school counseling or be enrolled in a master's program in school counseling with at least 30 hours completed. Students who meet the following criteria may qualify for practitioner licensure:

  • Professionals with field experience in a related discipline, such as school social work or school psychology
  • Professionals with community/agency counseling experience who are enrolled in an approved school counseling program
  • School psychology students with coursework experience who have not yet completed internship requirements

Programs must be accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation and have approval from the Tennessee Department of Education. Students with education in general counseling and students without field experience must practice for one hour each week under the supervision of a practitioner at an approved facility. That practitioner must have at least two years of professional experience. Candidates may receive a practitioner license while completing field experience before earning full professional licensure.


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


Practicum and Internship

Education preparation providers (EPPs) that teach aspiring school counselors in Tennessee require a one-semester internship and may also include a one-semester orientation experience that incorporates both teaching practice and observation. Tennessee-based EPPs must receive approval through the state department of education.

Application and Exam Requirements for Tennessee School Counselors

The Tennessee Department of Education issues practitioner and professional licenses to prospective school and guidance counselors in Tennessee. Students must meet specific education and experience requirements for school and guidance counseling as opposed to requirements for another specialization such as addiction counseling. Graduates prepare to take the Praxis II credentialing exam in Tennessee by earning a degree from a regionally accredited school and completing a state-approved EPP.

Applicants must pass the Praxis exam in professional school counseling with a minimum score of 580 to qualify for licensure

Students must create an account at TNCompass to begin the licensure application process.

Through TNCompass, applicants submit official transcripts of all college coursework and report relevant field experience. Candidates must also submit to a background check at the district level.

Applicants must pass the Praxis exam in professional school counseling with a minimum score of 580 to qualify for licensure. The Praxis II: School Guidance and Counseling exam includes multiple-choice questions, costs $120, and takes two hours to complete.

Out-of-State School Counselor Candidates

The Tennessee Department of Education maintains reciprocity agreements for licensed school counselors in other states. Under these agreements, students with limited out-of-state K-8 or 7-12 licensure may pursue an interim practitioner license while completing K-12 field requirements toward a professional license in Tennessee.

All out-of-state candidates must be at least 18 years of age and possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. Candidates must also submit either their current out-of-state license or a recommendation from their EPP to earn consideration for licensure in Tennessee.

School Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

Each type of license that the Tennessee Department of Education issues to preK-12 school counselors maintains its own renewal process. Licensed practitioners receive certification for a three-year period, after which they may renew only once. Temporary licensure renewal requires that students complete their EPP and pass all required assessments.

Candidates with professional licensure as a school counselor in Tennessee can practice for six years before renewing

Candidates with professional licensure as a school counselor in Tennessee can practice for six years before renewing. Professionally licensed school counselors must earn 60 professional development points for approved continuing education activities during each six-year renewal period.

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in Tennessee

Students exploring how to become a school counselor in Tennessee can benefit from statewide resources like nonprofits and member organizations in the field. Many colleges and universities dedicate entire departments to the development of the school counselor workforce in Tennessee. Below are just some of the resources and organizations designed to guide school counselors at all stages of their careers.

  • LinkedIn.com A comprehensive, career-oriented site, LinkedIn allows users to search for school counselor jobs and learn about schools and potential internship sites in the Tennessee area.
  • PayScale.com Another site focused on career research, PayScale offers in-depth information about school and guidance counselor careers in Tennessee, including top employers, average salaries, and typical job requirements for top districts in the state.
  • Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University Offering one of the state's most prestigious online M.Ed. counselor programs, Peabody prepares students for school counselor licensure in Tennessee. Peabody also keeps candidates abreast of the latest internship and career opportunities in the area.
  • Tennessee Counseling Association A branch of the American Counseling Association, TCA is the state's premiere member organization for counseling professionals. Membership provides exclusive networking opportunities for the industry in Tennessee.
  • Tennessee Department of Education As the issuing agency of school counselor certification in Tennessee, the department of education is the ultimate authority on all aspects of the licensure process. Here, students can browse approved state programs, verify credentials, and renew licensure through the TNCompass portal.
  • Tennessee School Counselor and Administrator Leadership Institute Annual Conference The Tennessee School Counselor and Administrator Leadership Institute hosts the state's definitive annual conference for professionals in the field. Sponsors and speakers represent healthcare, educational, and nonprofit organizations.
  • Tennessee School Counselor Association The Tennessee School Counselor Association serves a small member base through its Facebook page. The organization hosts an annual conference and awards outstanding practitioners with its school counselor of the year designation.
  • University of Tennessee The University of Tennessee holds accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. UT's counseling program helps guide students through intensive practicum and internship experiences with prestigious industry affiliates in Tennessee.

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