Top 10 High School Counselor Certifications

This article explores the top certifications available for high school counselors, including information on eligibility criteria, certification requirements, and potential benefits.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 17 min read

Certifications are important for high school counselors because they demonstrate to employers that the counselor has the necessary qualifications, knowledge, and skills to effectively provide guidance and counseling services in a school environment. Certifications indicate that the counselor has gained specialized training in areas such as college admissions, career counseling, mental health issues, and other relevant topics. Employers often look for certifications when evaluating potential hires, so having a certification can give counselors an edge in the job market. Additionally, certifications may be required by some states or school districts as part of their hiring requirements.

The purpose of this article is to review top certifications for High School Counselors and explain how they can help advance a high school counselor's career.

What are High School Counselor Certifications?

High school counselor certification is a professional credential that provides recognition for individuals who have met the education and experience requirements to become a high school counselor. This certification is typically granted by state counseling boards or regulatory agencies, and it demonstrates an individual’s commitment to providing quality counseling services to students in grades 9-12.

Having a high school counselor certification provides counselors with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to effectively serve their students. It requires counselors to demonstrate mastery of the core competencies for working with high school-aged youth, including mental health and wellness issues, college and career readiness, substance abuse prevention and intervention strategies, crisis management techniques, and more. This certification also helps counselors stay up-to-date on best practices in the field while providing them with additional professional development opportunities.

Finally, having a high school counselor certification can be beneficial for career advancement opportunities. Employers often look for candidates who have this type of credentials when hiring new counselors or filling leadership positions within their organizations. Having a high school counselor certification can give job seekers an edge over other applicants who don’t have this type of qualification.

Pro Tip: If you are considering becoming a high school counselor, be sure to research and understand the certification requirements in your state. Different states may have different requirements for licensure or certification, so it’s important to make sure you are aware of the specific steps you need to take in order to become certified as a high school counselor.

Related: What does a High School Counselor do?

Top 10 High School Counselor Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to High School Counselors today.

1. National Certified School Counselor (NCSC)

National Certified School Counselor (NCSC) is a professional certification program offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). It is designed to recognize school counselors who have achieved a high level of professional competence. The NCSC credential demonstrates that an individual has met rigorous standards of practice and has demonstrated knowledge, skills, and abilities in school counseling.

To become certified as an NCSC, individuals must meet the following criteria:

1. Possess a master’s degree or higher in counseling or a related field from an accredited institution;

2. Have completed at least 48 semester hours of graduate-level coursework in counseling;

3. Have three years of full-time experience as a school counselor;

4. Pass the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE);

5. Submit verification of supervised practice hours; and

6. Submit a current resume or curriculum vitae detailing education and experience in school counseling.

The process to become an NCSC typically takes between six months and one year, depending on how quickly all required materials can be submitted and processed by the NBCC. The cost to apply for the NCSC credential is $195, which includes the application fee, NCE exam fee, and processing fees.

2. National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is a nonprofit organization that sets high and rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do. It offers voluntary certification to teachers who demonstrate advanced teaching knowledge, skills, and practices.

To become certified by the NBPTS, teachers must complete an extensive application process that includes submitting evidence of their teaching expertise in their field. This evidence can include teaching portfolios, student work samples, videotapes of classroom instruction, and written reflections on their teaching practice. The process typically takes two to three years to complete.

In order to get started with the NBPTS certification process, teachers must first pay a $75 nonrefundable registration fee. After this initial payment is made, the total cost of becoming certified depends on the number of components completed for certification. Each component requires an additional fee ranging from $50 to $475 depending on the type of component being submitted.

Overall, the cost of becoming certified by the NBPTS can range from around $500 up to several thousand dollars depending on how many components are completed for certification.

3. American School Counselor Association (ASCA)

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) is a professional organization dedicated to the advancement of professional school counselors and their work. It was founded in 1952 and has since grown to become the world’s largest organization for school counselors. ASCA provides resources, research, advocacy, and training opportunities to support school counselors in their efforts to help students succeed socially, emotionally, and academically.

There is no specific time frame for becoming an ASCA member; however, it typically takes about two weeks for your application to be processed. To become an ASCA member, you must complete an online application and pay the membership fee. The cost of membership varies depending on your profession; student memberships are $35 per year while professional memberships are $95 per year. Additionally, there are additional fees for special interest groups or other services that may be available through the association.

Once you have been accepted as an ASCA member, you will receive access to a variety of benefits including discounts on conferences and events, access to exclusive publications and resources, networking opportunities with other professionals in the field, and more. You will also be eligible for awards such as scholarships or grants that may be available through the association.

4. National Association of College Admissions Counseling (NACAC)

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) is a professional organization of college admissions counselors, high school guidance counselors, and other professionals who work in the field of college admissions. NACAC provides resources and training to its members, as well as advocating for access to higher education.

Membership in NACAC is open to any individual involved in the college admission process, including high school and college counseling staff, independent educational consultants, college admission officers, financial aid officers, and other related professionals. Membership requires a one-time application fee of $75.

To become a member of NACAC, applicants must submit an online application form along with their payment. Once the application has been approved by the NACAC membership committee, applicants will receive an email confirmation within two weeks. After becoming a member of NACAC, individuals can take advantage of the organization’s many benefits such as discounts on conferences and publications; access to online resources; networking opportunities; and more.

5. International Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC)

The International Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC) is a professional organization that works to promote ethical standards, best practices, and professional development in the field of college admission counseling. IACAC provides resources and support to college counselors, admissions professionals, and students as they navigate the college search and application process.

Membership to IACAC is open to anyone who works in the field of college admission counseling or higher education. This includes high school counselors, independent educational consultants, college admissions officers, financial aid professionals, and other related professionals.

There is no set timeline for joining IACAC; however, it typically takes up to two weeks for an application to be processed. To join IACAC, applicants must fill out an online membership form and submit payment of the annual dues. The cost of membership varies depending on your profession and whether you are a new or renewing member; however, most memberships range from $50 - $100 per year.

6. Certified Educational Planner (CEP)

Certified Educational Planner (CEP) is a professional credential that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated expertise in educational planning. The CEP credential is issued by the American Institute of Certified Educational Planners (AICEP). This certification is designed to recognize professionals who have achieved a high level of competence in the field of educational planning.

It typically takes between 18 and 24 months to complete the requirements for the CEP credential. To become certified, applicants must meet certain prerequisites, including having at least a master’s degree and three years of full-time experience in educational planning or related fields. Additionally, applicants must complete a series of courses offered by AICEP, pass an exam, and submit a portfolio demonstrating their knowledge and skills in educational planning.

The cost of obtaining the CEP credential varies depending on the number of courses taken and other factors. Generally speaking, it can range from $1,000 to $3,000 USD.

7. Certified Career Development Facilitator (CCDF)

Certified Career Development Facilitator (CCDF) is a professional certification program that provides individuals with the knowledge, skills, and resources to become effective career development facilitators. The CCDF program is designed to help individuals develop their career development skills and apply them in a variety of settings.

The CCDF program consists of three levels: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. Each level requires the completion of specific coursework and a passing score on an exam. Level 1 focuses on basic career development concepts, while Levels 2 and 3 cover more advanced topics such as job search strategies, interviewing techniques, resume writing, and networking.

It typically takes between six months and one year to complete all three levels of the CCDF program. During this time, individuals will be required to complete coursework and pass exams in order to advance through each level.

To get certified as a Certified Career Development Facilitator (CCDF), individuals must first complete all three levels of the program. Once completed, they must then submit an application for certification to the National Career Development Association (NCDA). The NCDA will review the application and determine if an individual meets all criteria for certification.

The cost of the CCDF program varies depending on which courses are taken and how much time it takes to complete them. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $500 - $1,500 USD for all three levels of the program.

8. Certified College Planning Specialist (CCPS)

Certified College Planning Specialist (CCPS) is a professional certification program for individuals who are looking to gain knowledge and skills in college planning. The certification is offered by the National Institute of Certified College Planners (NICCP). It is designed to provide professionals with the necessary skills and knowledge to help families plan for college expenses, manage their finances, and understand the complexities of higher education.

The CCPS program consists of three courses: Financial Aid Planning, College Planning Strategies, and College Admissions Counseling. Each course takes approximately 15 hours to complete and can be completed online or in-person. Upon completion of all three courses, students must pass an exam in order to receive their certification.

To become a Certified College Planning Specialist, applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent, as well as two years of experience working in college planning or related fields. The cost of the program varies depending on the provider but typically ranges from $500-$1000.

Upon successful completion of the program and passing the exam, students will receive their CCPS designation and will be eligible to work as a Certified College Planning Specialist.

9. Master's Degree in School Counseling

A Master's Degree in School Counseling is a graduate-level degree that prepares individuals to work as school counselors. It typically takes two years of full-time study to complete the program, although some schools offer accelerated programs that can be completed in as little as one year. The program consists of coursework in areas such as human development, counseling techniques, assessment and diagnosis, and ethical issues. Students also complete field experiences and internships to gain practical experience working with children and adolescents.

To get a Master's Degree in School Counseling, students must first have earned a Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. After completing the undergraduate degree, students must then apply for admission into a master's program at an accredited school. Admission requirements vary by school but generally include letters of recommendation, transcripts from previous education, a personal statement outlining career goals, and standardized test scores such as the GRE or MAT.

The cost of a Master's Degree in School Counseling varies depending on the institution and program chosen. Generally speaking, tuition costs range from $15,000-$30,000 for two years of full-time study depending on whether the student is attending an online or on-campus program. Additional fees may include books and supplies, technology fees, and other miscellaneous expenses. Financial aid may be available through grants or loans to help offset these costs.

10. Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC).

A Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) is a mental health professional who has completed advanced training and education in the field of counseling. LPCCs provide individual, family, and group counseling services to individuals of all ages. They specialize in helping people manage their emotions, cope with stress, resolve conflicts, and make positive changes in their lives.

It typically takes between two to four years of postgraduate study to become an LPCC. This includes completing a master's degree program in counseling or a related field, such as social work or psychology. After completing the required coursework, students must pass a state-approved licensing exam before they can be officially licensed as an LPCC.

The cost of becoming an LPCC varies depending on the state in which you live and the type of program you choose. Generally speaking, tuition costs for master's programs range from $20,000 to $50,000. Additional fees may also apply for licensing exams and other related expenses.

To become an LPCC, individuals must meet certain educational requirements and pass a state-approved licensing exam. In addition to completing a master's degree program in counseling or a related field, applicants must also complete supervised clinical hours and pass a background check before they can be officially licensed as an LPCC.

Do You Really Need a High School Counselor Certificate?

A high school counselor certificate is an important credential for anyone who is considering a career in counseling and guidance. It demonstrates that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide effective counseling services to students. However, it’s important to consider whether or not you really need this certificate before you pursue it.

The first thing to consider is the type of counseling job you are interested in. Some jobs may require a specific certification, such as the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) or the American School Counselor Association (ASCA). Other positions may only require a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. If your desired job does not require a certification, then pursuing one may be unnecessary.

Another factor to consider is your level of experience with counseling. If you already have some counseling experience, then pursuing a high school counselor certificate may not be necessary. You can demonstrate your expertise by providing references from past employers or through professional development activities that show your commitment to learning more about counseling techniques and strategies. In contrast, if you are new to counseling, then obtaining a certification can help demonstrate your commitment to the profession and make you more attractive to potential employers.

Finally, if you are considering becoming a counselor at an elementary or middle school instead of a high school, then the certificate may not be necessary since these levels often do not require specific certifications. Instead, they may prefer candidates with teaching degrees and/or experience working with young children rather than counselors with specific certifications.

In conclusion, whether or not you need to obtain a high school counselor certificate depends on several factors including the type of job you are seeking, your level of experience in counseling, and which age group of students you plan on working with. While having this certification can certainly help demonstrate your commitment to being an effective counselor, it is not always necessary for all positions and should be weighed against other credentials when making decisions about furthering your education or career path.

Related: High School Counselor Resume Examples

FAQs About High School Counselor Certifications

1. What qualifications are needed to become a high school counselor?

Answer: To become a high school counselor, you must have a master’s degree in counseling or a related field and complete an approved program of supervised clinical experience. In addition, some states may require that you pass a licensing exam or obtain certification from the state board of education.

2. How long does it take to get certified as a high school counselor?

Answer: The amount of time it takes to get certified as a high school counselor will vary depending on your educational background and state regulations. Generally, it takes between two and four years to complete the necessary requirements for certification.

3. Is there any ongoing training required for maintaining high school counselor certification?

Answer: Yes, most states require that counselors maintain their certification through continuing education courses and professional development activities such as attending conferences and workshops.

4. Are there any special certifications available for working with certain populations?

Answer: Yes, many states offer specialty certifications for counselors who work with specific populations such as students with disabilities or those from diverse backgrounds. Additionally, some organizations offer additional certifications that can be earned in conjunction with state licensure/certification requirements.

5. What is the difference between licensure and certification for high school counselors?

Answer: Licensure is granted by the state board of education and requires that applicants meet certain criteria including educational qualifications, supervised clinical experience, and passing an exam. Certification is typically granted by non-governmental organizations such as professional associations or independent boards and requires completion of specified coursework or other requirements such as continuing education credits or professional development activities.