Virginia's school counselors work under pupil personnel services licenses issued by the Department of Education. Licenses are valid for service with students from pre-kindergarten through high school.
School Counselor Educational Requirements
Prospective guidance counselors must earn degrees at the master's level. There are two options. One is to complete an approved school counseling program. The other is to complete a counselor education program that includes at least 100 hours of experience in an elementary (pre-k - 6) setting and 100 hours in a secondary (7-12) setting).
Virginia programs are subject to requirements set by the state (http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+reg+8VAC20-542-560). School counseling students will develop an understanding of the following concepts, as they relate to the school counseling role:
- Human growth and development
- Social and cultural foundations
- Career development
- Processes and skills for counseling students
- Providing developmental group guidance
- School counseling programs
- Appraisal and assessment
- Professionalism as a counselor
- Research and evaluation
Students will also learn to work with teachers and guardians to support students. Competencies are described in Virginia Administrative Code 8VAC20-542-560.
The Department of Education has provided a list of universities offering approved educator programs within Virginia. The list is not organized by program, but may be used to check approval status (http://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching/licensure/index.shtml).
A prospective student who is considering an educator program offered by a school outside Virginia is cautioned to make sure that the program is approved for licensure or certification in the home state.
The license is dependent on attaining graduate education and completing state-mandated trainings. The Virginia Department of Education does not currently have an examination requirement for school counselors. Nor is there a requirement for teaching experience. However, those who do not have experience will work first under provisional licenses.
NYU Steinhardt's online MA in Counseling and Guidance - Learn more about NYU’s online MA degree that prepares you to become a school counselor in as few as 18 months. Graduates can pursue certification and employment in pre-K–12 schools. Bachelor’s required. Request information.
Select a Virginia School Counselor License topic...
- Education Requirements for School Counselors
- State-Mandated Trainings
- The application process (Links to Application Forms)
- Out of State School Counselors
- Additional contact information and schools offering School Counseling degree programs.
The school counselor will also need to complete state-specific trainings. Among them is a course in recognizing and intervening in child abuse. Applicants can access this training online (http://www.dss.virginia.gov/abuse/mr.cgi). They will need to print a certificate to submit at the time of application.
Virginia also requires training in first aid, CPR, and use of automated external defibrillators (AED). CPR/AED training must be evidence-based; programs offered through either the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross would qualify (http://www.doe.virginia.gov/administrators/superintendents_memos/2013/156-13a.pdf).
The Application Process
The method of application will vary, depending on training and employment circumstances. Students who complete Virginia-approved programs may have their applications submitted by the program. Individuals employed in Virginia school districts will submit their applications to their employers. The employer will also be responsible for making sure that the health training requirements have been met.
Other individuals will submit applications directly to the Department of Education. Applications are available on the DOE website (http://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching/licensure/index.shtml). School counselors use the same application as teachers and other educators.
The licensing agency will require official graduate and undergraduate transcripts, bearing university seal and registrar signature. The applicant will use the college verification form to verify internship/ practicum hours as well as to document program approval status.
Prospective educators who attended universities outside the United States are required to have their credentials evaluated by an approved agency. The Department of Education has provided a list (http://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching/licensure/graduates_foreign_institutions.pdf).
Applicants can use certificates, certification cards, or instructor documentation as evidence that health training requirements have been met. Documentation must include training dates; it must be clear that all three required components were included. The name on the documentation must match. If the individual attended a Virginia-approved program, a school official can confirm that state-mandated training requirements were met; this information will be included on the college verification form.
Applicants who have held full-time positions will submit employment verification.
Those who answer “yes” to questions about criminal history, disciplinary history, or allegations of misconduct will need to attach supporting documentation. Documentation will include a personal statement as well as official documents.
In-state applicants pay a nonrefundable $50 application/ licensure fee; out-of-state applicants pay $75. (Fees are determined by address.)
The Department of Education asks that all materials be mailed in one package to the following address:
Virginia Department of Education
Division of Teacher Education and Licensure
P. O. Box 2120
Richmond, VA 23218-2120
The Virginia Department of Education carries out background checks utilizing the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) clearinghouse.
Incomplete application packets will be held for a year. An applicant who fails to submit all required documentation during that time will need to submit another application and fee if licensure is still sought.
Out-of-State School Counselors
Out-of-state educators will need to complete the state-mandated trainings in child abuse and first aid/ CPR/ AED.
Individuals who do not have at least two years of teaching or school counseling experience will need to start at the provisional level.
Out-of-state licensees are asked to include photocopies of their licenses in the application package.
Licensing information is available on the website of the Virginia Department of Education (http://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching/licensure/index.shtml). The Licensure Division can be contacted at ‘licensure at doe.virginia.gov’. Additional contact information for Division staff members is available online (http://www.va-doeapp.com/StaffByDivisions.aspx?a=TeacherEducationLicensure).
Endorsement regulations for school counselors can be found on the Administrative Code of Virginia Law (https://law.lis.virginia.gov/admincode/title8/agency20/chapter22/).
The Department of Education has also provided a resource page for guidance counselors and prospective guidance counselors (http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/school_counseling/index.shtml).
The Virginia School Counselor Association is an additional professional resource (http://www.vsca.org/). VSCA is not directly involved in the licensing process.
You may also be interested in the Virginia Counselor license requirements.