School Counseling in North Carolina (NC)
The demand for skilled school counselors in North Carolina is on the rise, as these professionals are essential in helping students achieve academic and personal growth. Nevertheless, the journey to becoming a school counselor in North Carolina can be complex and lengthy.
Without the right guidance, those who aspire to become school counselors in North Carolina might struggle to navigate the licensing process, identify necessary coursework, and fulfill other state-specific requirements. This can result in delays in beginning their careers and offering valuable support to students.
This guide aims to provide an overview of the steps to become a licensed school counselor in North Carolina, covering essential aspects such as education, licensing procedures, and professional development.
What are the Requirements to Become a Licensed School Counselor in North Carolina?
Student Services Personnel License
If you want to work as a school counselor in a public school in North Carolina, you need to have a specific license for school counseling. The North Carolina State Board of Education (NCSBE) issues this license, called the Student Services Personnel License, for school counselors.
There are two types of Student Services Personnel licenses: 1) Initial Professional License and 2) Continuing Professional License.
To get a Continuing Professional License, you need to complete an approved school counseling program and pass the NCSBE-required test (Praxis 5421 if applying before 31st August 2023 and Praxis 5422 if applying after 31st August 2023). If you finish the program but haven’t passed the test, you will be given an Initial Professional License.
With this initial license, you must attempt the NCSBE-required exam in your first year and pass it by your third year. Once you pass the test, your Initial Professional License will be converted to a Continuing Professional License.
Provisional school counselor licenses in North Carolina are provided only when a school district requests them. To be eligible for a provisional license, you need to meet specific requirements:
- You must be enrolled in an accredited school counselor preparation program and have finished at least 24 graduate semester hours of the program; or,
- You need to have completed a master’s degree in addiction, career, clinical mental health, clinical rehabilitation, college counseling and student affairs, marriage, couple, and family counseling, or rehabilitation counseling from a regionally accredited college or university. Additionally, you must be enrolled in an accredited school counselor preparation program to complete any extra master’s level courses needed to specialize in school counseling.
For both options, you have to finish the remaining school counselor preparation program requirements within three years.
License Renewal in NC
As a student services personnel in North Carolina, you need to complete 8 renewal credits during each five-year renewal cycle, which should meet these requirements:
- 3 renewal credits that match the expectations of the North Carolina standards for your professional discipline area.
- 2 renewal credits focusing on the Digital Learning Competencies.
- 3 general credits (excluding years of experience) as decided by your employing school district.
If you’re going through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification process, you can earn all 8.0 renewal credits by completing the process and obtaining certification.
If you are already a fully licensed student services personnel (school counselor) in another state and meet NCSBE-approved testing requirements (Praxis 5421/5422) or have National Board School Counselor Certification, you will be given a Continuing Professional License in North Carolina.
If you are fully licensed as a school counselor in another state, have three or more years of student services school experience in that state, but haven’t passed the NCSBE-required tests, you can still get a Continuing Professional License. You will need to either show proof that you have successfully passed a similar, state-approved licensure exam in the state where you completed your Educator Preparation Program, or have earned National Board School Counselor Certification.
What is a Student Services Personnel in North Carolina?
A Student Services Personnel in North Carolina is someone who offers special help to students, teachers, administrators, or the overall educational program, as defined by the NCSBE. These professionals can have various titles, such as school counselor, school social worker, school psychologist, audiologist, speech-language pathologist, and media coordinator.
What is the Passing Score for the NC School Counselor Praxis Exam?
You need to score at least 156 on the Praxis 5421 North Carolina school counselor exam. If you are planning to apply for your school counselor license after 31st August 2023, you will need to pass the Praxis 5422 exam, instead of 5421, by scoring at least 159.
How Long Does It Take to Become a School Counselor on North Carolina?
The time it may take to become a school counselor in North Carolina depends on several factors, including your time availability and educational background, as well as the program you choose to enroll in to earn your degree.
Typically, to become a licensed school counselor in North Carolina, you need to follow these steps:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree (4 years): Pursue a degree in psychology, education, or a related area.
- Complete a master’s degree in school counseling (2-3 years): Join a graduate program that’s accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or approved by the NCSBE.
- Finish an internship or supervised experience: Participate in an internship or gain hands-on experience in a school setting, which is usually part of your master’s program.
- Pass the required exam: Take and pass the Praxis 5421 exam.
- Obtain a license: After meeting the educational and testing requirements, apply for a school counseling license through the NCSBE.
Altogether, it typically takes around 6-7 years to become a school counselor in North Carolina. This estimate includes time spent earning a bachelor’s degree and completing a master’s program in school counseling. The internship and licensure processes may add extra time to the overall duration.
Can I Become a School Counselor in North Carolina Without a Degree?
No, you need to obtain at least a master’s degree in school counseling to be eligible for school counselor licensure in North Carolina.
How Much Do School Counselors Make in NC?
As of May 2023, the average salary for a school counselor in North Carolina is $59,330 per year. More experienced professionals earn well over $70,000 per year.
Salary ranges might differ significantly based on various factors, such as the city in which you work, your educational background, any certifications you hold, extra skills you possess, and the amount of professional experience you have accumulated.
What is the Scope of Practice for School Counselors in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, school counselors play a vital role in helping students achieve academic success by offering comprehensive counseling programs. These programs focus on academic, career, and personal/social development, and are designed to address students’ needs through developmental, preventive, remedial, and responsive services.
In general, the scope of practice for school counselors in North Carolina include:
- Addressing students’ needs through developmental, preventive, remedial, and responsive services.
- Developing and maintaining a written plan based on North Carolina’s counseling standards and current school data.
- Communicating program goals to stakeholders (administrators, teachers, students, parents, community leaders).
- Providing essential resources for education stakeholders.
- Creating data-driven programs tailored to students’ needs.
- Implementing developmentally appropriate and prevention-oriented group activities.
- Helping students develop necessary life skills for success in the 21st century.
- Assisting students with goal-setting and planning in academic, career, and personal/social areas.
- Providing individual and group counseling for students with identified concerns and needs.
- Collaborating with parents, teachers, administrators, and community resources to support students.
- Help interpreting and understanding student data for various stakeholders.
- Participating in professional development activities to improve knowledge and skills.
- Measuring and sharing counseling program results with relevant stakeholders.
- Monitoring students’ academic performance, behavior, and attendance, and facilitate appropriate interventions.
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