How to Become a School Counselor in Virginia

Virginia school counselors work with students struggling with behavioral, social, and academic problems. They also offer academic advising support and assist students through the college application process. In Virginia, over 7,000 professionals work as school and guidance counselors. These counselors must hold a Virginia educator license with a school counseling endorsement to work at Virginia's public schools.

To qualify for licensure, school counselors need a master's degree with a minimum amount of practicum experience. Virginia also sets licensure requirements for out-of-state school counselors. This guide offers information about how to become a school counselor in Virginia.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Virginia

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Virginia here

Education and Experience Requirements

School counselors in Virginia need a Virginia educator license with a school counselor endorsement. The Virginia Board of Education oversees the licensure process, including renewals. This section covers the education and experience requirements for Virginia school counselors.

Education and Coursework

In Virginia, school counselors must hold a master's degree from an approved school or guidance counselor education program to earn the school counselor endorsement. Virginia also provides a pathway to endorsement for candidates with a master's degree from an accredited institution that does not hold Virginia approval. These candidates must demonstrate that they completed sufficient coursework and experience during their counselor education program. The program should include at least 100 clock hours of internship and practicum experience in a preK-6 setting and 100 clock hours in a 7-12 setting.

In Virginia, school counselors must hold a master's degree from an approved school or guidance counselor education program to earn the school counselor endorsement

Virginia approves in-state school counseling graduate programs that meet the state's requirements. Graduates from out-of-state school counseling programs also qualify with documentation from their institution.

As of July 1, 2017, Virginia school counselors must meet a new specialized training requirement by enrolling in an approved training course on recognition of mental health disorder and behavioral distress, with an emphasis on depression, trauma, violence, substance abuse, and youth suicide. Learn more about counselor education and career paths.

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

Practicum and Internship

Virginia requires 200 hours of practicum experience, including 100 hours in a PreK-6 setting and 100 hours in a 7-12 setting. Candidates must also complete two years of full-time teaching experience or two years of full-time experience as a school counselor in a public or accredited private school. Candidates can meet the school or guidance counselor experience requirement while holding a nonrenewable provisional license.

Application and Exam Requirements for Virginia School Counselors

The Virginia Department of Education grants school counselor licenses. To earn an endorsement in school counseling, candidates complete an application form with background questions. Candidates who respond affirmatively to any of the background questions must provide a letter of explanation and any requested documentation.

All applicants must provide verification of completing child abuse and neglect recognition and intervention training, emergency first aid, CPR, and AED training

Applicants also submit a college verification form demonstrating that their degree meets the educational requirements. The form also includes a teaching/practicum/internship verification to ensure candidates complete the required training. In addition, candidates must provide official student transcripts from all colleges and universities attended.

Applicants with at least one year of school counseling experience at a public or accredited private school must submit a report on their experience. A supervising official at the school completes the form.

Virginia does not require examination scores to earn a school or guidance counselor license.

All applicants must provide verification of completing child abuse and neglect recognition and intervention training. Candidates must also complete emergency first aid, CPR, and AED training or certification before earning their license. School counselors applying for initial licensure must provide proof of completing the training on recognition of mental health disorder and behavioral distress.

Out-of-State School Counselor Candidates

Virginia provides a licensure-by-reciprocity option for candidates with a valid out-of-state license in a comparable endorsement area. These candidates must submit an application with official transcripts. Virginia also grants licenses with a school counselor endorsement for candidates who hold national certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards or another nationally recognized certification program approved by the Virginia Board of Education. School counselors with a degree from a state-approved school counselor preparation program in a state other than Virginia also qualify.

School Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

Virginia school counselors must renew their license every five years. The state requires 180 points of continuing education or professional development activities to renew the license. Candidates receive 30 points for each semester hour of college credits completed at a regionally accredited institution.

Virginia school counselors must renew their license every five years

The state also grants points for presenting at a conference, publishing a book or article, mentoring, and participating in training programs. School counselors must submit an application detailing their accumulated points. School counselors must also complete the state's mandated specialized training.

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in Virginia

In Virginia, school counselors benefit from resources and organizations designed to support their profession. These resources include continuing education, professional development, and networking opportunities.

  • American School Counselor Association A national organization for school counselors, ASCA provides professional development tools, career planning resources, and publications for counselors. The association also advocates for school counselors.
  • International School Counselor Association ISCA promotes school counselors worldwide. The association hosts professional development resources, conferences and events with networking opportunities, and a code of ethics for the profession.
  • National Association of College Admissions Counseling NACAC, established in 1937, provides professional development resources for college admissions counselors. The association also offers a knowledge center and hosts events to connect college admissions counselors.
  • Virginia Alliance for School Counseling VASC provides professional development and networking opportunities for school counselors, including online discussion forums.
  • Virginia Counselors Association VCA provides professional development resources for counselors in Virginia, including school counselors. The association hosts an annual conference with networking opportunities and offers resources for counseling students.
  • Virginia Department of Education The Virginia Department of Education licenses school counselors, approves educator preparation programs, and provides resources on licensure. It also provides information on college and career readiness guidelines.
  • Virginia School Counselor Association Founded in 1962, VSCA offers professional development opportunities for school counselors through workshops and conferences. The association also shares school counseling news.
  • Virginia School Counselor Association Scholarships VSCA offers scholarships to high school seniors pursuing a college degree. The program promotes school counselors by asking applicants to write an essay about a school counselor who made an impact in their life.
  • Virginia School Counseling and Advisement Run by the Virginia Department of Education, the page provides information on the importance of school counseling programs and state standards for school counselors.
  • Virginia Teaching Licensure The official page to earn a teaching license in Virginia, the site provides updated information on school counselor training and requirements for earning an endorsement in school counseling.

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