How to Become a Licensed School Counselor in Virginia
Are you considering becoming a K-12 school counselor, but not sure where to begin? Here are four simple steps to get you started.
1. EXPLORE THE PROFESSION
What does a school counselor do?
School counselors are highly educated and licensed professionals who provide counseling to K-12 students related to mental health and wellness, along with academic and postsecondary success. Counselors play a critical role in K-12 school systems, both public and private. Compassionate and knowledgeable, school counselors promote student success and well-being by providing small-group and individual counseling, crisis response, consultation, and more.
What are the career and salary prospects for school counselors?
The need for school counselors in Virginia is greater than ever. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of school and career counselors and advisors nationwide is projected to grow 8 percent from 2019 to 2029 – much faster than the average for all occupations. The national median annual wage for school and career counselors was $58,120 in May 2020. In Virginia, professional organizations like the Virginia School Counselor Association offer advocacy, professional development opportunities, and community for school counselors at the state level.
If you’re looking for a fulfilling career that also offers long-term job security and addresses a critical need in your community, school counseling could be the right path for you.
2. COMPLETE A BACHELOR’S DEGREE PROGRAM
To become a school counselor, you will first need to earn an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university. A related major is not required to apply to graduate school, but relevant majors include psychology and education.
3. COMPLETE A MASTER’S DEGREE PROGRAM IN SCHOOL COUNSELING
In Virginia, school counselors must hold a master’s degree in counseling from an accredited college or university.
Our two-year, CACREP accredited, master’s program in Counselor Education trains students in leadership, advocacy and systemic change with an emphasis on equity, access and social justice. Our world-class faculty bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the program and build personal relationships with their students. UVA counselor education students complete a 100-hour school-based practicum and a 600-hour internship – hands-on learning experiences that are paired with course seminars to provide sustained opportunities for discussion and reflection. Plus, UVA students have the option of completing courses on the School Mental Health Leadership track, which should fulfill course requirements for the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) process in Virginia.
Click here to learn more about admissions to our master’s program. No GRE is required to apply.
4. APPLY FOR LICENSURE
Once students have completed a master’s program, they can apply for a state license. In Virginia, licensure for school counselors is regulated by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). For up-to-date details about licensure requirements, visit the VDOE website. At UVA, as you complete your graduate degree program, our program leaders will help counsel you through the process and prepare you to begin work after graduation.
Students interested in learning more about the LPC process can click here to read the licensure process handbook.
If you are already a working counselor in another state, you may be able to transfer your license to Virginia through a process called reciprocity. Visit the VDOE website to learn more.
Questions? Navigating career decisions and licensure requirements can be challenging, but don’t worry – individual guidance from experts is just a quick call or email away. Now that you know the basics, contact us and let us help you begin your career in school counseling.
Please be advised that laws, regulations, and policies may change at any time. You should always consult your state’s governing body for up-to-date information on state regulations.