How to Become a California School Counselor

Where are you on your quest to become a California School Counselor?

Explore the information below and learn how you can become a school counselor in California. Some of the information below may be subject to change. In order to make sure you have the most current information, please feel free to contact your school counseling education program advisor or contact the California Department of Education licensing department at (916) 445-7254.

I'm a High School Graduate...

To become a school counselor in California, you will need more formal education. This may at first seem daunting, but recognize all school counselors must go through the process. Also, you have the opportunity to learn about many different careers in education as well as other fields while earning your undergraduate degree(s).

Step One:

Gather information from schools offering associate degree programs or bachelor degree programs in psychology, counseling or any type of program you are currently interested in. It is not imperative you enroll in a counseling program at this point. The only necessity is that you begin earning your associate's degree or bachelor's degree.

Step Two:

A great way to find out if you are interested in a social service type of career, like school counseling, is to find volunteering organizations who work with children or young adults. The following are links to organizations who can place you in volunteering positions across the state of California:

Lastly, remember the only way to be certain the life of a school counselor is right for you is to become involved and immerse yourself in the education environment.

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I have already earned a college degree...

The following are the steps necessary for earning your school counseling certification in California:

Step One:

Fulfill educational requirements through one of the following avenues:

Step Two:

Make sure your school counseling degree program offers a practicum with school-aged children. This is a requirement for earning school counseling certification in California.

Step Three:

You must pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST). You can find more information about the CBEST by contacting them through one of three of the following avenues:

  • The CBEST Program
    National Evaluation Systems
    P.O. Box 340880
    Sacramento, CA 95834-0880 (916) 928-4003
  • By Phone: (916) 928-4001
  • Or by website: www.cbest.nesinc.com

Step Four:

Before entering a classroom during your practicum experience, you will need to have your fingerprints taken and sent for background check purposes by the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Have your fingerprints taken at your local police department.

You will also need to complete a LiveScan Request Form. You can find the forms and information regarding fingerprinting procedures and fees on this website.

Step Five:

Have your fingerprints taken at your local police station and request two fingerprint cards. Fill out the form to give consent for criminal history background review. Download form Here.

California is in serious need of highly qualified, motivated and caring school counselors. As it becomes more evident our state's economic needs require highly educated, responsible and adaptable citizens, school guidance counselors are going to be put front and center. Salaries will more appropriately reflect the importance of their job.

Download your application materials and review certification procedures, here.

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I'm a teacher in California and wish to become a school counselor...

If you are already a teacher in California, many of the small issues related to earning your certification are already taken care of, such as the background check.

However, you will still need to complete a post-baccalaureate or Master's degree in School Counseling:

You must also pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST). You can find more information about the CBEST by contacting them through one of three of the following avenues:

  • The CBEST Program
    National Evaluation Systems
    P.O. Box 340880
    Sacramento, CA 95834-0880 (916) 928-4003
  • By Phone: (916) 928-4001
  • Or by website: www.cbest.nesinc.com

Download your certification application and review procedures, here.

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I'm a certified counselor from another state...

The California Department of Education does recognize certifications coming from other states and will review transcripts and practicum verification.

Also, as a counselor from another state, you must have had at least 150 of the 600 supervised clock hours of school counseling internship must be devoted to issues of diversity.

You will also need to meet the examination requirements of California:

  • The CBEST Program
    National Evaluation Systems
    P.O. Box 340880
    Sacramento, CA 95834-0880 (916) 928-4003
  • By Phone: (916) 928-4001
  • Or by website: www.cbest.nesinc.com

Lastly, you will need to complete all background check procedures required by the California Department of Education.

  • Complete a LiveScan Request Form. You can find the forms and information regarding fingerprinting procedures and fees on this website.

Download a certification application and review procedures, here.

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**Some states require completion of a state-approved School Counselor preparation program from a regionally accredited institution in order to be licensed as a school counselor. Capella University is regionally accredited and their School Counseling specialization is state-approved by the Arizona Department of Education. We recommend that you follow up with your state Department of Education (DOE) to determine whether Capella's Arizona- approved School Counseling specialization meets your state's licensure requirements.