California School Counselor Certification

School counselors in California receive a Pupil Personnel Services Credential with school counseling specialization, which authorizes counselors to perform the following duties:

  • Develop, plan, implement, and evaluate a school guidance program that assists students with academic, career, personal, and social development
  • Advocate for high academic achievement and social development of all students
  • Provide school-wide prevention and intervention services
  • Provide consultation and training to teachers and parents regarding students’ needs
  • Supervise advisory programs on local school campuses

To learn more about how you can make a difference as a school counselor in California, visit California’s school counselor association website.

Skip down to find information relevant to your certification situation:

Initial California School Counselor Certification

In 2019, California amended the school counselor certification requirements by expanding acceptable education requirements. For more information about this recent change, designed to ensure the school safety of all students in California, visit California’s Department of Education website.

To become a school counselor in California, you must earn a bachelor’s degree or higher, along with additional educational and endorsement requirements.

Step 1: Education Requirements

  • Applicants must have earned a bachelor’s or higher, in a discipline other than professional education, from a regionally-accredited college or university such as the following:
  • You also must have completed a professional preparation program* of post baccalaureate degree study, including a minimum of 48 semester units specializing in school counseling
  • Completed practicum as part of the post baccalaureate degree, including experience with school aged children

* Any programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) meet this requirement, listed here.

Step 2: Submit to a Criminal Background Check

All applicants must complete the Live Scan fingerprint process. For a copy of the submission form, click here.

For more information about the criminal background checking process in California, visit the Commission on Teacher Credentialing fingerprint information webpage.

Step 3: Examination Requirements

All applicants for school counselor credentials must pass the Basic Skills Requirement. This requirement is typically met by passing the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) with a minimum total score of 123, although there are additional options for meeting this requirement.

For a detailed list of exam options, including how to register for the various tests, click here.

Step 4: Know the Fees

License Application Fee: $100

Payment must be included in your application packet, and paid by check or money order, payable to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. For more information about application fees, see the Fee Schedule Information page located here.

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Step 5: Organize Your Application Materials

Your complete application includes the following materials:

  • Completed Application for Credential Authorizing Public School Service (Form 41-4), located here.
  • You must submit a completed Professional Fitness Explanation Form, if applicable. For a copy of the form and detailed instructions on supporting documentation, click here.
  • Official transcripts from all colleges/universities you have attended, including transfer credits that led to earned degree. Please note, transcripts must be mailed along with the original application packet. See comments under “Additional Information on Application Submission” on this pdf for more information.
  • Proof of exam scores for the Basic Skills Requirement
  • Verification of completed fingerprint processing
  • $100 application fee

Step 6: Submit Your Application

To download an application for submission, visit this webpage.

The Application for Credential Authorizing Public School Service (Form 41-4) is the appropriate application for your California Pupil Personnel Services Credential with a school counseling specialization. This form must be completed in its entirety and submitted, along with all necessary supporting documentation and application fee, to:

Commission on Teacher Credentialing
Certification Division
1900 Capitol Avenue
Sacramento CA 95811-4213

Additional Information

If you need assistance with your School Counselor credential application, you can contact the Commission on Teacher Credentialing:

Call Center:

916-322-4974, Option 1
Open 12:00 PM until 4:00 PM
Monday through Friday

Chat:

via the link located here
12:00 PM until 4:00 PM
Monday through Friday

For answers to a list of frequently asked questions about guidance counselor credentialing in California, visit this webpage.

California School Counselor Certification Renewal

Pupil Personnel Services credentials are renewed every five (5) years, and are typically processed online within 10 working days. Because the Commission no longer prints, distributes, or mails paper documents, you will need to view and print your renewal on the Commissioner’s website.

For detailed information about how to complete your renewal, visit this webpage.

Additional Assistance

If you need assistance with completing your Pupil Personnel Services credential renewal, you may contact a specialist via email at credentials@ctc.ca.gov.

California School Counselor Certification Through Reciprocity

If you completed your education and experience in another state, you are eligible to apply for school counselor credentials in California. In order to receive your credentials, you must satisfy all of the following requirements.

Step 1: Education Requirements

  • Out-of-state applicants must have earned a bachelor’s or higher, in a discipline other than professional education, from a regionally-accredited college or university.
  • You also must have completed a professional preparation program* of post baccalaureate degree study, including a minimum of 30 semester units specializing in school counseling
    • This preparation program must include supervised field experience with school-age children
    • Your application packet must include a field experience verification letter that is on original, official letterhead from the university’s education department
    • You must also submit eligibility verification for the equivalent credential authorization, such as an eligibility letter from the certifying state agency

    * Any programs that are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) meet this requirement, such as the following programs:

Step 2: Submit to a Criminal Background Check

Out-of-state applicants must complete and submit a Live Scan Receipt, located here. The agency completing the Live Scan will collect their fees directly. If you choose to submit a Live Scan Receipt, you do not need to submit background check fees to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

or

You must complete and submit two fingerprint cards and fingerprinting processing fee. If you live outside of California, you can order fingerprint cards from the Commission by sending an email message that includes your physical mailing address to OutOfStateFPs@ctc.ca.gov. Please include “Fingerprint Cards” in the subject line.

For more information about these two options for criminal background checking, please visit this webpage.

Step 3: Examination Requirements

You must complete the Basic Skills Requirement, which assesses each applicant’s basic skills proficiency, such as reading, writing, and mathematics. To learn more about your options for meeting the basic skills requirement, visit this webpage.

Step 4: Know the Fees

Application Fee: $100

Fingerprint Processing Fee: $49

The Commission accepts personal checks, money orders, or cashier’s checks only for applicants who professionally prepared outside of California. Full payment should be included in your single application packet. Checks/money orders/cashier’s checks should be payable to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing or CTC.

For additional information, please visit the Fee Schedule Information, located here.

Step 5: Organize Your Application Materials

Your complete application packet* should include all of the following materials:

  • Completed Application for Credentialing Authorizing Public School Service, located here.
  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities that you attended
  • Professional Fitness Explanation Form, located here
  • Exam score reports for the Basic Skills Requirement, as applicable
  • Field experience verification letter, as applicable
  • Eligibility verification for the equivalent credential authorization, as applicable
  • Live Scan Receipt or two (2) completed fingerprint cards
  • Full payment for all required fees

* All materials must be submitted in a single application packet. Materials sent separately are destroyed without review.

Step 6: Submit Your Application

Please submit one single application packet, including application, supporting materials, and full payment to:

Commission on Teacher Credentialing
Certification Division
1900 Capitol Avenue
Sacramento CA 95811-4213

California School Counseling Certification Resources

For resources to assist you with continuing education and other career development opportunities, see the following websites:

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