School Counselor Licensure in Wisconsin

Wisconsin school counselors are classified as pupil services personnel. There are three levels of pupil services licensure. Individuals who have met education and examination requirements apply for their initial educator licenses when they are beginning their first school counseling positions. They achieve professional level licensing after they successfully complete an employment-based Professional Development Plan. They may seek voluntary master level licensing after continued service; pursuit of the highest license requires expertise and some additional time commitment.

The Wisconsin school counseling endorsement is valid from early childhood through adolescence.

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School Counselor Educational Requirements

The prospective school counselor will need to earn a master's degree and complete an approved program in school counseling. A future student can download a list of Wisconsin-approved programs from the website of the Department of Public Instruction (

Individuals are expected to demonstrate mastery of basic communication skills prior to entry into Wisconsin-approved educator programs. The current state-adopted examination is the Core Academic Skills for Educators ( However, individuals may be exempted from the Core on the basis of qualifying SAT, ACT, or GRE scores from the five years prior ( Some students will have taken the Praxis I, a predecessor of the Core.

Wisconsin programs are subject to state curriculum mandates. Pupil service licensees are required to have coursework in special education, minority relations, and conflict resolution (

Individuals who complete out-of-state programs may be issued licenses with stipulations if they have not met all state mandates but are otherwise qualified. They will need to remove stipulations before renewing or progressing to higher level licensing (

Examination Requirements

Wisconsin requires subject-area tests. School counselors take the Professional School Counselor Examination, a multiple choice assessment that is offered by Educational Testing Service (ETS) as part of the Praxis series.

The version of the test that is in current usage is test code 5421. It is computer-delivered. The minimum qualifying score on is 156 ( Study resources are available through ETS (

There are testing sites throughout the nation. Wisconsin assessment centers are located in Brookfield, Eau Claire, Lacrosse, Madison, Oshkosh, Stevens Point, Wausau, and Whitewater. The registration process can be carried out online.

Background Check Requirement

The Department of Public Instruction carries out background checks on all applicants ( DPI may investigate competency issues as well as criminal history.

Individuals who have in the prior 20 years, lived, worked, or gone to school in any state other than Wisconsin are required to have fingerprint-based criminal background checks. Fingerprint-based background checks are also required of those who have lived in Canada, Great Britain, or U.S. territories. Other applicants may be asked to have fingerprints made, at the discretion of the licensing agency.

Applicants who are subject to the fingerprint requirement must have their prints made electronically through Wisconsin’s approved vendor, Fieldprint. An exception is made for those who reside internationally. These applicants may use the online link to request fingerprint cards ( They will then contact a U.S. Embassy or Consulate about having fingerprints made.

U.S. residents can schedule their appointments online ( They will need to enter the code found on the DPI website ( Background check results will be submitted electronically to the licensing agency.

Livescan fingerprints can be made at Fieldprint locations in other states. Applicants may enter their zip codes to obtain a list of the nearest locations.

Fieldprint Customer Service can be reached at 877-614-4364.

The Application Process

Graduates apply for licensure after they have received job offers ( This ensures that a licensee will be in a position where he or she can complete the professional development plan required for licensure at the professional level.

Individuals can apply online through the Educator Licensing Online (ELO) system. They will begin by selecting the application/ license type ( The sidebar includes links to ELO tutorials.

There are separate online applications for in-state and out-of-state applicants. In-state pupil services applicants are asked to confirm that their program has submitted the required endorsement before submitting an application ( In some cases, it will be necessary to contact the certification officer.

Applicants will need to answer conduct and competency questions. They can preview these and prepare any supporting documentation before beginning the application process. (Links will be available once the applicant has clicked through to the desired license type.) Scanned documents can be uploaded into the application system.

Fees are to be paid by credit card. DPI directs individuals who do not have credit cards to purchase prepaid ones.

The American School Counselor Association reports that the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction charges $100 for in-state applicants and $150 for out-of-state applicants (

Earning Higher Level Licensing

The initial license is time-limited. A school counselor will need to work for at least three years before achieving professional licensing. The initial pupil services educator will be provided with a mentor ( The educator will be required to create a Professional Development Plan. The PDP will be based on Wisconsin Pupil Services Standards (

Pursuit of the Wisconsin Master Educator license is optional ( The state offers financial incentives for those who achieve it. Educators become eligible after five years of service at the professional level. In order to achieve the master credential, they will need to demonstrate mastery of state standards at an exemplary level. The committee will look for evidence that they have improved student learning and contributed to the profession. Achievement will be demonstrated through portfolio and video; artifacts are developed through the Wisconsin Master Educator Assessment Process (WMEAP).

Candidates have two years to prepare their materials. A school counselor who submits some that are not at the level expected by the committee may be granted a one-year extension.

Out-of-State Applicants

Out-of-state educators must demonstrate that they passed the examinations required in their own jurisdictions. School counseling licensure pre-dates current Wisconsin regulations and pre-dates the development of the school counselor examination. Individuals who earned licensing in the recent past will be required to demonstrate passing scores on the Praxis II. Some school counselors will have taken an earlier version of the test: School Guidance and Counseling # 0420 ( In this instance, the threshold score is 560.

Out-of-state applicants are also expected to have scored satisfactorily on an academic skills test, whether it is the Core, Praxis I, GRE, SAT, ACT, or a state-specific examination.

Individuals who complete out-of-state programs will need to secure institutional endorsements. They will upload these to the online system, along with copies of transcripts, test results, and (if applicable) work experience verification (

Additional Information

Licensing information is available from the Department of Public Instruction ( Professional Development and Licensing can be reached by telephone at (608) 266-1027 or by email at ‘licensing at’. Individuals who have questions about approved programs, licensing, PDPs, or the ELO system can use the online contact form (

The Wisconsin School Counselor Association (WSCA) is an additional professional resource, but is not directly involved with the licensing process (

You may also be interested in the Wisconsin Counselor license requirements.

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