South Dakota School Counselor Certification

In 2019, there were nearly 140,000 students in South Dakota. School counselors in the state serve children in prekindergarten through grade 12, by nurturing career, academic, and social/emotional development through comprehensive programming.

If you would like more information about the role of school counselors in South Dakota, including the professional evaluation process, visit the School Counseling section of the South Dakota Department of Education website.

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

Initial South Dakota School Counselor Certification

The initial Education Specialist Certificate with school counseling endorsement is valid for five (5) years. South Dakota offers two options for applicants, depending on education and experience.

Step 1: Education Requirements

Applicants must meet one of the following requirements to receive a school counselor endorsement.

  1. Complete a master’s degree or higher school counseling preparation program for preschool through grade 12, such as the following programs:

    OR,

  2. Complete a master’s degree or higher in counseling, and
    • Pass the Professional School Counselor (ETS Code 5421) with a score of 164 or higher, and
    • Complete one year of supervision by a certified mentor school counselor

Step 2: Criminal Background Check

South Dakota laws stipulate that school districts will complete a criminal background investigation on all prospective employees by submitting fingerprint cards to the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation. There is not a pre-application requirement for background checking.

Step 3: Examination Requirements

The examination requirement is only for applicants who have not earned a master’s degree or higher from an approved school counseling preparation program. To obtain a School Counselor certificate in South Dakota with a master’s degree or higher in counseling, you must earn a minimum score of 164 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.

Know the Fees

The application fee for an initial educator certificate is $60, payable online through the application portal.

You can also mail a check or money order payable to the Department of Education to:

South Dakota Department of Education
Certification Office
800 Governors Drive
Pierre SD 57501

Step 4: Application Materials Checklist

Your application materials include the following:

  • Completed profile and application through the South Dakota application portal
  • Official transcripts from all colleges/universities you have attended, including transfer credits that led to earned degree
  • Proof of qualifying score for the Professional School Counselor Exam (ETS Test Code 5421), if applicable
  • Proof of completion of Suicide Awareness and Prevention training. For a list of approved training programs, visit this webpage
  • $60 initial application fee

Step 5: Submit Your Application

The South Dakota application for school counseling certification is submitted online via the SD Department of Education portal.

Official transcripts must be sent by the university to certification@state.sd.us or mailed to:

South Dakota Department of Education
Certification Office
800 Governors Drive
Pierre SD 57501

Additional Information

If you need assistance with your initial application, contact the Department of Education at 605-773-3134. The Certification Office Call Center is open Monday through Friday from 8 – 10 AM and 3 – 5 PM CST. You can also email a specialist at certification@state.sd.us.

South Dakota School Counselor Certification Renewal

The school counselor credential is renewed every five (5) years, and may be renewed any time after January 1 of the expiration year. To renew your school counselor certificate, you will complete the renewal application via the South Dakota certification portal.

Required materials for your renewal application include:

  • Proof of completion of Suicide Awareness and Prevention training. For a list of approved trainings, visit SD Department of Education website.
  • Completion of six (6) education-related transcripted credits, specialized learning experience hours, or continuing education contact hours. For detailed information about each of these criterion, download this PDF
  • $60 renewal application fee

Additional Assistance

For more information, you can call the certification office at 605-773-3134, each Monday through Friday from 8 – 10 AM and 3 – 5 PM CST.

South Dakota School Counselor Certification Through Reciprocity

South Dakota offers certification through reciprocity for applicants whose school counseling credential is from another state. In order to be considered for South Dakota initial certification via reciprocity, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Completed profile and application through the South Dakota application portal
  • Official transcripts from all colleges/universities you have attended, including transfer credits that led to earned degree
  • Proof of qualifying score for the Professional School Counselor Exam (ETS Test Code 5421), if applicable
  • Proof of completion of Suicide Awareness and Prevention training. For a list of approved trainings, visit this webpage
  • Proof of completion of an approved 3-credit South Dakota Indian studies course. For a list of approved courses, view this webpage
  • $60 initial application fee

For more information about the reciprocity requirements, view this PDF.

Additional Assistance

If you have questions about your reciprocity application, you can call the Department of Education.

Certification Office
605-773-3134
Hours of Operation
8 – 10 AM and 3 – 5 PM CST

Monday through Friday

You can also email your inquiries to certification@state.sd.us.

South Dakota 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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