North Carolina School Counselor Certification

School counselors in North Carolina serve more than 1.5 million students located in 2,557 schools across 244 districts in the state. Counselors use the American School Counselors Association (ACSA) national model training to implement a comprehensive school counseling program on campuses that align with the national counseling standards.

If you would like more information about this model and its use in counseling students across North Carolina, visit the American School Counselor Association website.

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

Initial North Carolina School Counselor Certification

The initial license in North Carolina is for any applicant who has completed the required education, but who has not yet completed the required testing. For applicants who have completed both the education and testing requirements, their initial license is entitled Continuing Professional Educator’s License (CPL). The CPL is valid for five (5) years.

Step 1: Education Requirements

  • Completion of a master’s degree or higher in school counseling, such as the following programs:

Step 2: Criminal Background Check

As of February 2020, there is not a pre-application requirement for criminal background checking. All fingerprinting and criminal history check requirements are completed at the school district level.

Step 3: Examination Requirements

To obtain a School Counselor license in North Carolina, you must earn a score of 156 or greater on the Professional School Counselor Exam (ETS Test Code 5421). For more information about this exam, or to register for a test date, visit the Praxis website.

Step 4: Know the Fees

The CPL application fee is $70, payable through the NCDPI online licensure system. This fee is non-refundable and non-transferrable, and submitted with the credit card payment authorization form, downloadable here.

Step 5: Organize Your Application Materials

Your application materials include the following:

  • Completed profile and application through the through the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NDPI) online licensure system
  • Degree-dated official transcripts from all colleges/universities you have attended, including transfer credits that led to earned degree
  • Proof of passing score for the Professional School Counselor Exam (ETS Test Code 5421)
  • $70 application fee, payable through the online licensure system

Step 6: Submit Your Application

North Carolina applications are submitted online using the NCDPI Online Licensure System.

Your official documents, including transcripts, are uploaded into the online application portal.

Additional Information

If you would like to speak with a licensure specialist, you can call the NCDPI Licensure Office during normal business hours at 800-577-7994 (within North Carolina) or 919-716-1800. You can also contact the department via email at asklicensure@dpi.nc.gov.

North Carolina School Counselor Certification Renewal

The New Carolina Continuing Professional License (CPL) is renewed each five (5) years after April 14th of the expiration year.

School counselors must submit poof of professional development hours in order to renew their CPL. North Carolina requires at least 8 CEUs or 80 clock-hours of continuing education courses, which must include the following:

  • 3 CEUs or 30 clock-hours of education related to the school counseling discipline
  • 2 CEUs or 20 clock-hours of education related to digital learning
  • 3 CEUs or 30 clock-hours of education related to general instruction

Your earned CEUs must be completed prior to the expiration date of your CPL. Approved activities for the professional development requirement include college or university courses, in-service courses or workshops, and classes and workshops approved by your local school district.

The fee to renew your license is $35, payable at the time of renewal.

The CPL renewal application is completed online on the North Carolina Public Schools website.

Additional Assistance

If you need additional information about renewing your North Carolina license, contact the NCDPI Licensure Office during normal business hours at 800-577-7994.

North Carolina School Counselor Certification Through Reciprocity

If you are an out-of-state applicant, you will need submit proof of passing scores on the required examination, or an equivalent exam, before you are issued a Continuing Professional Educator’s License. Your complete application, including supporting documentation and application fee, is submitted online.

Your application materials include:

  • Completed profile and application through the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NDPI) online licensure system, located here
  • Degree-dated official transcripts from all colleges/universities you have attended, including transfer credits that led to earned degree
  • Proof of passing score for the Professional School Counselor Exam (ETS Test Code 5421) or passing score for an equivalent exam approved by your current licensing state
  • A copy of your current, valid school counseling license
  • Completed Non-Teaching Experience Verification form(s) that validates experience directly related to your area of license, downloadable here
  • $100 out-of-state application fee, payable through the online licensure system

Additional Assistance

If you have questions about your out-of-state application, contact the North Carolina licensure office at 919-716-1800 during normal business hours, or via email at asklicensure@dpi.nc.gov.

North Carolina School Counseling Certification Resources

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

Back to the top