How to Become a School Counselor in Utah

While any school in Utah can hire guidance counselors, the state requires high schools to bring these professionals on board. As such, guidance counselors in Utah tend to focus heavily on college preparedness and career literacy. On this page, a candidate who wants to make a difference in the lives of students and guide them into adulthood can learn how to become a school counselor in Utah.

This guide covers Utah's counseling requirements for certification, including information about educational achievements, internships, transferring certifications from out-of-state, renewals, and career resources.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Utah

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Utah here

Education and Experience Requirements

The Utah State Board of Education (USBE) — the Utah counselor board — sets strict requirements for school counselor applicants regarding education and supervised work experience. Candidates must earn degrees that meet all of these requirements before earning their initial school counselor certifications. The sections below detail these requirements to help learners choose appropriate programs.

Education and Coursework

School counselor candidates in Utah need at least master's degrees. All higher education institutions providing school counselor training in Utah must meet USBE standards, which the board revised in 2018. Candidates who attend out-of-state or online schools and seek initial licensure in the Beehive State must complete programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). These programs must meet the same standards as Utah-based degrees.

School counselor candidates in Utah need at least master's degrees

All Utah counseling degree programs cover eight basic areas of focus: professional counseling orientation and ethical practice; social and cultural diversity; human growth and development; career development; counseling and helping relationships; group counseling and group work; assessment and testing; and research and program evaluation.

Inside these subject areas, classes must cover specific topics to count toward school counselor certification. For example, assessment and testing courses must cover suicide risk evaluations, identifying trauma, reporting suspected abuse, and the validity of psychological assessments. Furthermore, school counselors must take courses in the foundations, contextual dimensions, and practice of school counseling. The board does not set any standards regarding required undergraduate degrees or the number of credits that students must earn.

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

Practicum and Internship

Utah school counselors do not need to complete counseling practicums in order to earn their certifications. However, they must hold active Utah professional educator licenses. Depending on the route they take to licensure, earning this license may require candidates to complete an internship or student teaching experience.

Application and Exam Requirements for Utah School Counselors

In addition to earning graduate degrees in school counseling, candidates should hold teaching licenses in the state. Many prospective school counselors already work as teachers and should keep their licenses active. Other candidates must complete alternative routes to licensing (ARLs). ARL students should hold bachelor's degrees from accredited universities.

In addition to earning graduate degrees in school counseling, candidates should hold teaching licenses in the state

All applicants must earn the school counseling specialization with their licenses. In order to do this, candidates must take the Praxis professional school counselor exam and pass with a score of 164 or higher. This computer-based exam lasts two hours and consists of 120 multiple-choice questions.

Candidates should submit official transcripts and recommendations from university faculty when they apply. While in-state schools provide the board with information on what each class covers, candidates from other institutions may need to provide additional documentation to prove that their courses include the required topics.

All school counselors start as level-one professionals and can enroll in the state's Entry Years Enhancement mentorship program. Mentors guide them through the requirements they need to apply for level two and level three certifications. Professionals must submit new applications to move between levels, as the process is not automatic.

Out-of-State School Counselor Candidates

School counselors with licenses in other states must hold CACREP-accredited graduate degrees that meet USBE standards. Applicants with degrees that do not meet these requirements may need to complete additional coursework before practicing in the Beehive State.

Candidates must also apply for Utah teaching certifications and pass the appropriate Praxis exam. Because candidates take this test across the country, some transfer applicants may already hold passing scores. When applying for teaching licenses, candidates must submit background check forms, official transcripts, proof of completion for required ethics training, and copies of all previous teaching licenses.

School Counselor Licence Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

School counselors must renew their licenses every 2-5 years, depending on their licensure levels. Each level one professional needs to earn 100 points in three years, while a level two counselor needs 200 hours in five years and a level three professional must earn 200 points in seven years.

School counselors must renew their licenses every 2-5 years, depending on their licensure levels

Candidates can earn points through professional learning activities and continuing education. All educators and school counselors should take courses that cover student data privacy and youth suicide prevention during each renewal cycle. Candidates can submit their renewal applications up to six months before their license expiration dates.

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in Utah

Candidates do not have to learn how to become guidance counselors in Utah alone. Professional associations, government websites, nonprofits, and publications can help both students and practicing school counselors. Below are several resources that can help.

  • American School Counselor Association ASCA offers school counselors across the U.S. opportunities to join online forums, earn continuing education hours, read the latest relevant research, buy professional liability insurance, and earn specialist certifications.
  • Utah School Counselor Association This branch of ASCA offers school counselors opportunities to advocate for legislative change, complete professional development, and attend a statewide professional conference. Students may also join.
  • Family Policy Compliance Office FPCO is a division of the United States Department of Education. Here, education professionals can learn more about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment.
  • ETS Praxis Exam Candidates can learn more about the required school counselors exam on the Praxis website. Here, testers can access a practice exam, study guides, demonstrations of computer-based testing, and information on test subjects.
  • School Spring This job board includes education positions across the country, including school counselor jobs in Utah. Job seekers can sign up for email alerts for the types of jobs and locations they want.
  • Step Up Utah This extensive, Utah-specific education resource includes helpful resources such as events for students and educators, ideas for college readiness programs, and a tool that allows counselors to easily search for local social services.
  • Teach Utah This online job board includes education-related positions across the Beehive State. Candidates can also find job fairs, teacher certification programs, and information about moving to Utah.
  • Utah Education Association Members can join about 18,000 colleagues at UEA. Counselors can gain access to resources such as continuing education, employment liability insurance, updated education research, and local networking meetings.
  • Utah Education Network UEN is a network of professionals working in K-12 schools, higher education institutions, local libraries, and technical colleges. Members can connect with other education professionals, parents, and administrators.
  • Utah State Board of Education Students, candidates, and professionals can learn about licensure requirements on the USBE website. Applicants can submit their documents, find data on Utah schools, and learn about new policies affecting educators.

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