Illinois School Counselor Certification

There are more than 2 million public school students who benefit from counseling services on 4,266 campuses in Illinois. Counselors assist students with prevention services, such as character education and supportive guidance. They also assist students with intervention services, including crisis counseling and community referrals.

If you would like to learn more about how you can make a difference as a school counselor in Illinois, download the Best Practices for Illinois School Counselors.

Skip down the page to the certification pathway you’re interested in:

Initial Illinois School Counselor Certification

Counseling applicants to the Illinois State Board of Education apply for the Professional Educator (PEL) School Support License with school counselor endorsement. This license is valid for five (5) years.

Step 1: Education Requirements

  • Master’s degree or higher in school counseling, awarded by a regionally accredited institution, such as the following programs:
  • Required coursework to include: structure, organization, operation of the educational system. For more information, visit this webpage
  • You must have completed an internship* of at least 600 clock hours (at least one semester) with a minimum of 240 direct service hours
  • Completion of a supervised counseling practicum of at least 100 clock hours with a minimum of 40 direct service hours

* Applicants who have at least two years of teaching experience are required to complete an internship of 400 clock hours with a minimum of 240 direct service hours.

Step 2: Criminal Background Check

Criminal background checking is completed by the hiring school district. There is not a pre-application fingerprint process for Illinois.

Step 3: Examination Requirements

Applicants for the school counselor license are required to pass the Illinois Licensure Testing System School Counselor (181) exam. This computer-based test has 125 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately four hours to complete. Tests are administered nation-wide Monday through Saturday. The examination fee is $122, payable with a debit or check card that includes the VISA or MasterCard logo.

For more information, or to register for a test date, visit this webpage.

Step 4: Know the Fees

License Application Fee: $150

Step 5: Application Materials Checklist

Your complete application is submitted online and includes the following materials:

  • Completed profile and application through the Illinois State Board of Education link, located here
  • Official transcripts from all colleges/universities you have attended, including transfer credits that led to earned degree. Transcripts must be sent electronically by the institution to transcripts@isbe.net.
  • Proof of completion of a state approved program, verified with Form 80-02S, downloadable here
  • $150 application fee for License

Step 6: Submit Your Application

Your application for Illinois School Counselor license must be submitted online, using the State Board of Education link.

Additional Information

If you would like to speak with a speak with a specialist about your school counselor licensure application, call the Illinois State Board of Education Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 AM and 5 PM CST at 217-557-6763.

You can also email a specialist at licensure@isbe.net.

Illinois School Counselor Certification Renewal

The Illinois school counselor license is valid for five (5) from the date of issue. Renewal applications are completed online.

The Professional Educator License (PEL) with school counselor endorsement requires the following renewal materials:

  • Renewal application fee of $50, which covers a $10 registration fee for each year of a license’s validity
  • 120 hours of Professional Development credits, which may be completed from a regionally accredited Illinois college/university with an approved education program, National Board of Certification, National Licenses (for School Support Personnel), and/or activities provided by an approved Illinois professional development provider

Additional Assistance

For more information about your renewal application, email a licensure specialist at licensure@isbe.net.

You can also call the licensure department during normal business hours at 217-557-6763.

Illinois School Counselor Certification Through Reciprocity

The Illinois State Board of Education does consider reciprocity for applicants with out-of-state education and credentials. If you hold a current, valid out-of-state license and can verify one year of employment as a school counselor, you may be eligible for reciprocity licensure.

Your application materials will include:

  • Completed profile, application, and $150 initial application fee payable through the online licensing system
  • Official transcripts for all institutions attended. Transcripts must be sent electronically by the institution(s) to transcripts@isbe.net
  • Copy of current, valid school counseling endorsement
  • Proof of scores for examinations required by the licensing state, if applicable

If you hold a current, valid school counseling endorsement, you are not required to submit proof of completed internships or practicums.

Additional Assistance

If you need additional assistance with your application for reciprocity licensure, contact the Illinois State Board of Education at 217-557-6763 during normal business hours. You can also email a specialist at licensure@isbe.net.

Illinois 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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