Tennessee School Counselor Certification

There are nearly 1 million public school students in Tennessee, who represent an increasing ethnic and economic diversity. School counselors implement a comprehensive school counseling program on each of the state’s 1,817 campuses, which serve administrators, students, student families, and fellow educators. Direct student services include developing a core counseling curriculum for all grade levels, individual student planning to ensure each child’s optimum success, and response services for students who need crisis intervention or referrals for additional support services.

If you would like to read more about how school counselors in Tennessee serve their school communities, download this PDF.

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

Initial Tennessee School Counselor Certification

The initial School Service Personnel license is the Practitioner license. It is valid for three (3) years and may be renewed once.

Step 1: Education Requirements

  • Completion of an approved school counselor preparation program, such as the following programs:
  • Institutional recommendation for school counseling licensure
  • Supervised experience (e.g., practicum, internship) as part of the degree requirements

Step 2: Criminal Background Check

There is not a pre-application requirement for background checking completed along with the licensure application submission. The Tennessee Department of Education requires that all prospective employees will submit a national criminal history background check at the school district level. For more information about the process for completing fingerprinting background checks, visit this webpage.

Step 3: Examination requirements

To receive a School Service Personnel Practitioner license for school counseling, applicants must earn a minimum score of 156 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: Application Materials Checklist

Your application materials include the following:

  • Completed profile and application through the Tennessee application portal
  • Official transcripts from all colleges/universities you have attended, including transfer credits that led to an earned degree. The Tennessee Board of Education requires that the licensure department receives all official transcripts by the institution(s) of higher learning. Your degree-awarding colleges/universities should send transcripts to educator.licensure@tn.gov through an approved transcript clearing house, or mail them to the department. For detailed information, download this PDF
  • Proof of passing score for the Professional School Counselor Exam (ETS Test Code 5421)

Step 5: Submit Your Application

Applicants must submit all application materials, except official transcripts, through the Tennessee Compass portal.

For detailed information about how to submit official transcripts, download this PDF.

Additional Information

If you have questions about your school counselor license application, contact a specialist via email at Educator.License@tn.gov or call 615-741-1346 during normal business hours.

Tennessee School Counselor Certification Renewal

The Practitioner license may be renewed once.

Following the one-time renewal of the practitioner license, school counselors will apply for the Professional license; a six (6) year license that is renewable without limit.

To advance your license from Practitioner to Professional, you will complete the following:

  • Login to your account with www.TNcompass.org and select “Advance a License”
  • You must indicate whether you are advancing your license based upon a recommendation from your school director or you are submitting proof of 30 professional development points. For detailed information about PDP requirements, view this webpage
  • You will also select the “Experience” tab and verify that you have completed the required job experience (minimum 25 months). Detailed information about experience requirements is located on this PDF

Additional Assistance

For assistance with your renewal application, or help with advancing to a Professional license, call the licensure department at 615-741-1346 during normal business hours.

Tennessee School Counselor Certification Through Reciprocity

The Tennessee Department of Education will consider out-of-state credentials for applicants interested in reciprocity licensure. In order to be considered for a Tennessee School Service Personnel Practitioner license, you will submit the following:

  • Complete a profile and application through the Tennessee application portal
  • Official transcripts from all colleges/universities you have attended, including transfer credits that led to an earned degree. The Tennessee Board of Education requires that the licensure department receives all official transcripts by the institution(s) of higher learning. Your degree-awarding colleges/universities should send transcripts to educator.licensure@tn.gov through an approved transcript clearing house, or mail them to the department. For detailed information, download this PDF
  • Proof of passing score for the Professional School Counselor Exam (ETS Test Code 5421) or proof of passing score for the examination required by your licensure state
  • Copy of your current, valid school counseling credential

As of February 2020, there is not a license application fee, and criminal background checks are completed at the school district level.

The Practitioner license is valid for three (3) years.

Additional Assistance

If you have questions about your reciprocity application, you can call the licensure department during normal business hours at 615-532-4885. You can also email a specialist at Educator.license@tn.gov.

Tennessee 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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