School Counseling in Minnesota
Minnesota is a beautiful and progressive state with a large public school system. It also has one of the most complex licensure systems for educational professionals. The system includes multiple tiers, each of which has different educational requirements.
Despite this complexity, working as a school counselor in Minnesota has its advantages. With a broad scope of practice, you can work with a wide range of students in many different educational settings. There is also ample room for advancing your career, taking on greater responsibilities, and earning a higher level of income.
Of course, as a school counselor, you will also have the opportunity to positively impact the lives of the students in your school in ways that make them more successful students and better equipped to handle life’s challenges. Learn more about the process of undertaking this rewarding career by exploring the guide below.
What are the Requirements to Become a School Counselor in Minnesota ?
Tier 2 School Counselor License Education Requirements
The education requirements for a Tier 2 license (the lowest available) dictate that you have a master’s degree in counseling. Alternatively, you might be eligible for licensure if you have a bachelor’s degree and can demonstrate that you are currently enrolled in an accredited school counselor program.
If the latter situation applies, you must have completed at least 24 semester credits in school counseling. Additionally, the program must provide the following information to the Professional Educator Licensing Board:
- Verification that you have finished 24 or more semester credits in school counseling
- An affirmation that the program provides you assistance in designing your learning experience
- An affirmation that you are prepared for the learning experience
- An affirmation that the program provides you with proper supervision
Furthermore, to obtain a Tier 2 license, the district hiring you must request a license from the Professional Educator Licensing Board. Moreover, the hiring district must affirm that you will take part in an evaluation.
If you are currently enrolled in a school counseling program, the district hiring you must also provide you with supervision from a Tier 3 or Tier 4 school counselor. The district must also verify that your position is a learning experience and that you will not take the place of a Tier 3 or Tier 4 school counselor.
Tier 2 School Counselor License Experience Requirements
Prospective school counselors in Minnesota must complete at least 700 hours of fieldwork as part of their degree programs. One hundred hours of practicum and 600 hours of internship are necessary if the degree program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). There is a 700-hour requirement for non-CACREP programs as well.
Tier 2 School Counselor License Examination Requirements
As of 2023, there is no licensure examination required for a Tier 2 school counselor license.
Tier 2 School Counselor License Background Check Requirements
Minnesota requires all school counselors to undergo a national and state fingerprint check.
Tier 3 and Tier 4 School Counselor License
To qualify for a Tier 3 school counselor license, you must have a master’s degree in school counseling from a regionally-accredited institution. You must also affirm that you have completed an approved school counseling preparation program (either CACREP-accredited or state-approved).
A Tier 4 school counselor license is available to you if you meet all the requirements for Tier 3 licensure, in addition to having at least three years of experience working as a school counselor in Minnesota. You cannot have been placed on an improvement plan during your tenure as a school counselor, either.
What are the School Counselor License Renewal Requirements in Minnesota?
The licensure renewal requirements for school counselors vary depending on the licensure tier:
- A Tier 2 license is valid for two years and can be renewed up to three times. Renewal eligibility is contingent upon you showing progress in your school counseling program (if applicable) and that you are progressing toward completing your program as well as completing the Tier 3 licensure requirements. Your school district must also verify that you have been involved in mentorship activities and participated in an evaluation with the district.
- A Tier 3 license is valid for three years and can be renewed indefinitely. You must complete at least 75 clock hours of continuing education to renew the license, including any mandatory requirements.
- A Tier 4 license is valid for five years and can be renewed indefinitely. You must complete at least 125 hours of continuing education, including any mandatory requirements.
What are the Reciprocity Requirements for School Counselors in Minnesota?
As of 2023, there is no reciprocity for out-of-state school counselors in Minnesota. However, you can apply for a Tier 2 Minnesota school counselor license if you meet the educational requirements of the license as outlined earlier.
How Long Does It Take to Become a School Counselor in Minnesota?
As discussed above, you need at least a bachelor’s degree and have completed 24 credits in a graduate school counseling program to be eligible for a Tier 2 school counselor license in Minnesota. It takes about four years of full-time studies to complete a bachelor’s degree and a further year or so to complete 24 graduate credits. This being the case, you might be able to get your license after about five years of college.
However, it’s typical for applicants for a Minnesota school counselor license to have already completed a graduate program before applying for an initial license. Most school counseling graduate programs are two to three years in length, so for most applicants, it takes about six or seven years to become a Minnesota school counselor.
What is the Scope of Practice for School Counselors in Minnesota?
The Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing Board defines the school counseling role as providing a range of counseling services, including those that improve students’ emotional, cognitive, and behavioral development. Likewise, school counselors are responsible for improving students’ resiliency skills and effective decision-making.
Minnesota’s certification for school counselors is for all levels – kindergarten through 12th grade – so you can undertake these activities with students of all ages. Though the specific ways in which you carry out your duties will vary somewhat depending on the age group, the substance of those duties will be highly similar regardless of the student’s age.
For example, to meet the criteria of enhancing the behavioral development of students, you might create an anti-bullying curriculum that you deliver in a classroom setting. In an elementary classroom, this might be in the form of a puppet show to demonstrate what bullying looks, sounds, and feels like. But, in a high school classroom, this might be in the form of a question and answer session that allows students to share their experiences of being a bully or being the victim of bullying.
Though these activities take different forms, their substance addresses the same behavioral topic of addressing bullying in schools. This type of differentiated instruction applies to other areas of school counseling practice, too.
For example, you might help middle school students develop improved decision-making skills by having them work in small groups to brainstorm solutions to a problem. By working together, students not only explore and voice their own thoughts about how to solve the problem, but they also learn about their peers’ thoughts and observe their problem-solving procedures.
At the high school level, a decision-making exercise might be related to a specific problem, like using alcohol or drugs. So, perhaps you focus less on brainstorming and more on helping individual students build effective refusal skills that help them say no to family, friends, or strangers that are attempting to get them to use illicit drugs.
As a Minnesota school counselor, you are expected to help students of all ages build effective resiliency skills, too. Doing so can take many different forms. On the one hand, you might work with elementary-aged students to identify times when they have had hardships in the past and explore the ways they worked through those hardships as a vehicle for identifying their existing inner strengths. By doing so, students gain increased confidence in their ability to meet challenges head-on.
On the other hand, you might help middle school students build better resiliency by emphasizing the need for self-care. You might give students a questionnaire about their self-care habits, including questions about what they eat and drink, how much they sleep, and so forth. Then, you can help them develop an improved daily or weekly schedule that accounts for time to unplug and connect with others, get plenty of rest, and get appropriate exercise, all of which will help them better manage life’s stressors and build resiliency.
These are just a few examples of what you might do as a school counselor in Minnesota. As noted earlier, this is a very broad field with many different career possibilities, so the sky’s the limit when it comes to the positive impact you can have on the students at your school!
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