How to Become an Indiana School Counselor

You can become a school counselor in Indiana by obtaining your initial practitioner license. Indiana’s Department of Education requires that applicants for the initial practitioner license (IP) have a master’s degree from an approved school counselor program.

This license allows you to hold a position as a school counselor in an accredited Indiana public or private school, special education cooperative, cooperative career and technical education program, special education program, joint program or charter school, serving students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12.

School counselors in Indiana progress in their careers through a professional growth plan (PGP) or the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certification. The tiers of licensing for school counselors are:

  • Initial Practitioner–2-year, renewable license
  • Practitioner (formerly Proficient Practitioner)–5-year, renewable license
  • Accomplished Practitioner–10-year, renewable license

In 2015, Indiana adopted the Rules for Educator Preparation and Accountability 3 (REPA 3) as the new licensure framework for Indiana school counselors, which includes passing a core content licensure test for school counselors.

Where are you on your quest to become an Indiana School Counselor?

Explore the information below and learn how you can become a school counselor in Indiana. In order to make sure you have the most current information, contact your school counseling education program advisor or contact the Indiana Department of Education licensing department at 317-232-9010.

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I’m a High School Graduate…

It’s never too early to plan a career as an Indiana school counselor, and you are in a fantastic position to explore the fields of counseling and education while taking the next steps toward earning your school counselor license.

This gives you the opportunity to decide whether a career as an Indiana school counselor is right for you and, if it is, develop an efficient career path that will help you reach your career goals with as few roadblocks as possible.

The following are recommended steps that will help you acquire the education you need become a licensed school counselor for pre-K–12 students in Indiana.

Step One: Research Undergraduate Degree Programs

Gather information from schools offering associate degree programs or bachelor’s degree programs in psychology, counseling or another discipline that interests you. It is not imperative that you enroll in a counseling program at this point, but having a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field will give you the foundation for an appropriate master’s program. A master’s degree is the minimum requirement for a school counselor in Indiana.

According to the Indiana Department of Education:

  • Applicants must have at least a master’s degree to obtain a school counselor or school psychologist license.
  • Starting June 1, 2015, school counselor applicants will be required to pass a Praxis Content area test.
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Step Two: Volunteer with a Social Service Organization

Volunteering with an education-focused social service organization is a great way to determine whether you’re cut out for a career in school counseling. Working with an organization that serves children or young adults can be an enlightening and invaluable experience for anyone considering a future in education.

The following organizations offer volunteer opportunities across the state.

You can also look for volunteer programs at an Indiana school near you. The earlier you get involved with such an organization the more time you’ll have to learn the intricacies of a career in school counseling and discover whether becoming a school counselor will make you happy.

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I Have Already Earned a College Degree

The American School Counselor Association states that school counselor candidates must “[o]btain a master’s degree in school counseling or related field or, if already degreed, completed additional course work in a school counseling program from an institution of higher education that is approved by the board to offer such a degree.”

To earn your school counseling certification in Indiana, you must submit an application through the Office of Educator Licensing and Development’s Licensing Verification and Information System (LVIS).

Take the following steps to ensure that you have met all the requirements and can complete the application in full. The system does allow you to save your progress and continue later if necessary.

Step One: Earn Your Master’s Degree or Complete Additional Coursework

Fulfill educational requirements through one of the following avenues:

  1. Earn a master’s degree in school counseling from an approved college or university. 
  2. Complete coursework to supplement your master’s degree. The program you choose must be approved by the state.


School counselors are an essential part of the state’s education system, and their passion for their work is rooted in the underlying principles of the profession. The skills and competencies you will gain from a program that meets Indiana state standards will be key to your success as an Indiana school counselor.

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Step Two: Complete Practicum, Internship, & CORE Content Licensure Test

You will need to complete all experience requirements set forth by your school counseling program. These may include a practicum, internship or residency.

Additionally, as of June 1, 2015, candidates for an initial practitioner license to be an Indiana school counselor must pass a CORE content licensure test.

Step Three: Obtain Your Limited Criminal History Report

Obtain your limited criminal history report. Because the online search results are considered official records by the state, you will not be able to save the report. You must print the report and upload it with the rest of your application documentation. You may also mail a request form to the Indiana State Police or visit the Central Records Division of the Indiana State Police at the Indiana Government Center.


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Step Four: Complete CPR/AED/Heimlich Certification

Complete the state approved CPR/Heimlich maneuver certification course. These classes are offered by several approved providers, but if you choose to enroll in an online class, you must attend an in-person hands-on demonstration with a mannequin. A class offered totally online won’t be accepted.

You must upload proof of valid CPR/AED/Heimlich certification with your application.

Step Five: Complete Suicide Prevention Training

State and federal law requires school counselors to complete suicide prevention training and submit proof of completion upon applying for their license. They must also complete two hours of suicide prevention training every three school years.

Step Six: Submit Your Application and Pay

Once you have completed all the requirements for your initial practitioner license and uploaded the appropriate documentation, you can submit your application and pay the required fees through LVIS by following the instructions for an Original School Services License.

If you need assistance at any point during this process, call the Indiana Department of Education’s Office of Educator Licensing and Development at 317-232-9010.

Good Luck!

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I’m a Certified Counselor from Another State

Indiana does recognize school counseling certifications from other states; however, your credentials will still need to be evaluated and you will need to fulfill a few other requirements before being awarded an Indiana school counselor certification.

The Out-of-State Preparatory Program though the IDOE allows out-of-state license holders who have completed a CAEP or AAQEP accredited or state-approved teacher preparation program in another state can obtain an Indiana school counseling license.

Your license must be valid, and you will have to pass a content licensure test and submit the following documentation:

  • Valid CPR/AED/Heimlich certification from an IDOE-approved provider
  • Suicide prevention training certificate
  • Valid out-of-state license or certificate issued by a government agency
  • Educational experience verification letters signed by employers on letterhead stating position and number of years of experience
  • Official transcripts for all coursework completed
  • Official score reports for tests that support an out-of-state license or certificate
  • The appropriate application for an Indiana license

Call the Indiana Department of Education’s Office of Educator Licensing and Development at 317-232-9010 if you have questions about submitting your school counselor license application.

Accomplished Practitioner License

The steps above must be followed to earn your initial school counselor license in Indiana. Once you have established yourself in your career, you can professionalize your license through a professional growth plan or the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)

To earn your accomplished practitioner license, you must have obtained your initial practitioner license and:

  • Have five years of experience as a school counselor in an entity listed in Title 515 of the Indiana Administrative Code (515 IAC 1-5-1)
  • Completed an educational specialist or higher degree in a counseling related field at a regionally accredited college or university
  • Been recommended for the accomplished practitioner license by the licensing advisor at the approved program
  • Successfully completed certification in school counseling from a board-approved program

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, Indiana had the nation’s highest ratio of students to counselors. In the wake of losing 700 school counselors due to COVID-19, Indiana’s ratio of students to school counselors is 694 to 1.

Schools across Indiana need qualified, compassionate school counselors who are committed to supporting students in this crucial post pandemic stage. You could be one of them.

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