How to Become a School Counselor in Texas

By Staff Writer

Recently named among the top 10 U.S. News & World Report's best social services jobs for 2020, the school counselor profession appeals to purpose-driven individuals interested in working with youth.

School counselors in Texas need a combination of advanced education and experience to become certified. Candidates must complete a master's degree from an accredited institution approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). Additionally, students must complete an approved educator preparation program (EPP) in Texas and pass the TExES School Counselor Exam.

Texas also requires that school counselors have at least two years of classroom teaching experience and undergo a background/fingerprint check. Candidates who meet all necessary criteria earn the preK-12 standard school counselor certificate from the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

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

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Texas

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Texas here

Education and Experience Requirements

The path to becoming a school counselor in Texas involves a multi-step process. Students need both education and teaching experience to qualify for certification in this counseling specialty. Below are a few of the requirements for becoming a guidance counselor in Texas.

Education and Coursework

Candidates for school counselor certification in Texas must hold at least a master's degree in counseling from a THECB-approved institution. Candidates must also complete an approved EPP.

Most master's programs in school counseling require 37-48 credits. School counseling curricula typically explore human growth and development, individual and group counseling, and testing and assessment methods. Graduate programs also provide training in field-specific topics like educational reform, developmental psychology, and the evaluation of exceptional children.

Students must fulfill the service-learning component of the degree and meet EPP requirements by completing a practicum or field experience. Graduates of school counseling master's programs are prepared to take the TExES exam #152 in school counseling. Passing the exam leads to school counselor certification in Texas.

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 degree candidates in school counseling in Texas must complete a practicum in addition to on-campus or online coursework. Credit requirements vary from one school to another, but practicum experiences typically count for 1-6 credits and last for one semester.

Specific participation requirements also vary, though many Texas programs also include an internship course. This internship typically lasts for two semesters and six credits. Students should clock a minimum of 300 field hours in a counseling setting, with at least 100 in direct counseling practice.

Application and Exam Requirements for Texas School Counselors

TEA encompasses the State Board of Education and the State Board for Educator Certification, which function as the Texas counselor board. Each specialty has unique certification requirements. For example, the process of applying for school counseling certification differs from substance abuse or family counseling. THECB approves select EPPs in Texas to ensure they incorporate adequate TExES exam preparation.

Applicants for certification must receive approval to take the TExES exam from their THECB-approved EPP

Students should create an online account on the TEA website to begin the application process.

Through the website, applicants submit proof of at least two years of classroom teaching experience with their applications. Candidates must also pass a national background check.

Applicants for certification must receive approval to take the TExES exam from their THECB-approved EPP. The #152 TExES School Counselor Examination consists of 100 multiple-choice questions, costs $131, and takes five hours to complete. Successful licensure candidates must score at least a 240.

Out-of-State School Counselor Candidates

Texas does not automatically certify out-of-state school counselors through a reciprocity agreement; however, school counselors with certification in another state can still apply for Texas credentials. Out-of-state candidates who have taken the credentialing exam in Colorado or Oklahoma, the Praxis exam, or the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards exam may be exempt from taking the TExES.

TEA considers all out-of-state candidates' qualifications individually for school or guidance counselor certification in Texas. The Texas counselor board may also issue temporary certification for one year while reviewing out-of-state applications.

School Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

TEA grants a five-year certificate to school counselors in Texas who meet requirements and pass the TExES exam. To renew the certificate, students must complete 200 hours of continuing education over five years with a minimum of 40 hours during each year of the renewal period. Students may count one semester of coursework at an accredited higher learning institution as 15 clock hours of continuing professional education. Counselors may only count activities from approved continuing education providers toward their required renewal hours.

To renew their school counselor certificate, students must complete 200 hours of continuing education over five years with a minimum of 40 hours during each year of the renewal period.

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in Texas

Professional resources can help students learn how to become a guidance counselor in Texas. Schools, member organizations, and professional organizations offer a wealth of resources to school counselors at all stages of their careers. Below are just some of the state's top resources.

  • American School Counselor Association The preeminent professional association for school counselors, ASCA encompasses chapters in each state, including the Texas: Lone Star State School Counseling Association. ASCA offers a wealth of networking, research, and career resources for school counselors.
  • Lone Star School Counseling Association As the Texas branch of ASCA, LSSSCA promotes advocacy and professional development in the industry. Membership benefits include access to industry publications, events, internships, and networking opportunities.
  • Glasscock School of Continuing Studies at Rice University Among the top universities for school counseling in Texas, Rice University offers academic and professional resources for students considering a college counseling career.
  • Texas Association for College Admissions Counseling TACAC focuses on promoting the field of college admissions counseling to prospective students. Through networking and continuing education opportunities, the organization assists professionals in transitioning from secondary to postsecondary counseling careers.
  • Texas Career and Technical Education TX CTE features resources specific to counselors and related career clusters in Texas. The organization provides postsecondary education, financial aid, and career options.
  • Texas State Board of Examiners and Professional Counselors Managed by the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Texas State Board issues and regulatescounseling licensure in the state. Here, students can review certification requirements and find continuing education options for licensed counselors.
  • UT Austin College of Education As a provider of one of the state's premiere counseling programs, UT Austin maintains partnerships with the Texas Child Study Center and the Psychological and Educational Assessment Center. Here, prospective students can research the path to school counselor certification in Texas.

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