Arizona school counselors are certified by the Department of Education. They are issued professional non-teaching certificates that are valid with students in pre-kindergarten through grade twelve. Certification is based on graduate education and qualifying experience. Arizona guidance counselors do not have an examination requirement.
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Individuals must hold degrees at the master's level or higher. They must complete graduate level guidance and counseling programs through accredited institutions (http://www.azed.gov/educator-certification/files/2011/09/guidance-counselor-certificate.pdf).
The experience requirement can be met through a supervised school counseling program at the graduate level. In some cases, however, applicants will not need to verify practicum. The Arizona Department of Education will also accept work experience as a teacher or school guidance counselor. The individual will need three years of full-time experience as a teacher or two years as a guidance counselor.
The Arizona Department of Education requires applicants to complete state and federal criminal background checks and have a fingerprint clearance card issued.
The current requirement is for an Identity Verified Prints (IVP) clearance card. Applicants may request IVP packets from the Department of Public Safety by calling (602) 223-2279, faxing (602) 223-2947, or addressing mail to the following address:
Applicant Clearance Card Team
Arizona Department of Public Safety
P.O. Box 18390
Phoenix, AZ 85005-8390
They will need to specify ‘IVP’ as DPS issues other types of clearance. DPS clearance costs $67 and must be paid by money order, cashier’s check, or business check.
The fingerprints themselves may be made at law enforcement agencies, private agencies, or school district offices. They cannot be made at the Department of Education building.
It typically takes four to six weeks for clearance card processing in cases where there are no findings. Applicants can check their status online (http://webapps.azdps.gov/public_inq_acct/acct/ShowClearanceCardStatus.action).
The Department of Public Safety has provided a list of frequently asked questions and a link to disqualifying offenses (http://www.azdps.gov/Services/Fingerprint/).
The Department of Education requires a photocopy of the clearance card, submitted at the time of application. However, professionals can expect to be asked to show the original laminated card at the employment level. Replacement cards, if necessary, can be purchased for $5.00.
Application materials can be downloaded from the Department of Education website (http://www.azed.gov/educator-certification/certificate-requirement/professional-non-teaching-certificates/). The same application form is used for multiple certification types and for adding new certifications and endorsements; applicants will select the one(s) desired and include a $60 fee for each.
Applicants will provide information about their education and practicum experiences and will answer criminal history questions. Candidates who answer 'yes' to criminal history questions are required to provide detailed explanation. The Department of Education has provided incident forms for this purpose. Applicants will describe circumstances, disposition, mitigating factors, and (if applicable) sentencing. They will also need to provide the date and location of arrest.
Official transcripts are required. These can be used to document practicum experience as well as degree and program requirements. Individuals qualifying on the basis of full-time teaching experience will need to have a 'Verification of Teaching Experience' form signed by the superintendent or personnel director. Those qualifying on the basis of guidance counseling experience will need to provide a letter on official letterhead; this must also be signed by a superintendent or personnel director.
The application fee may be paid by check or money order. It is nonrefundable.
Applications are to be mailed to the following address:
P.O. Box 6490
Phoenix, Arizona 85005-6490
Applicants can visit the homepage of Educator Certification to find updates on application processing status (http://www.azed.gov/educator-certification/).
The Department of Education will be transitioning to an online application system in the future.
Reciprocity is granted to school counselors from all U.S. states. The American School Counselor Association states that a valid out-of-state certificate will be accepted as evidence that education and experience requirements have been met (http://schoolcounselor.org/school-counselors-members/careers-roles/state-certification-requirements).
Out-of-state candidates will, however, still need to go through the Arizona background check process.
The Arizona Department of Education is unable to evaluate international transcripts. Internationally educated professionals will need to contact a credential evaluation service. The Department of Education has provided contact information for a number of services (http://www.azed.gov/educator-certification/files/2011/10/foreign-credential-evaluation-agencies.pdf).
School counseling certification information is available in the ‘Educator Certification’ section of the Department of Education website (http://www.azed.gov/educator-certification/). Applicants can check the website for policy changes and updates (http://www.azed.gov/educator-certification/important-information/).
Certification evaluation specialists can be reached at 602-542-4367. Certification can also be reached by email at 'certification at azed.gov'.
A limited number of services are available on a walk-in basis at the certification offices located in Phoenix and Tucson. The Tucson office provided only same-day services and does not accept credit cards. The main office at 1535 West Jefferson Street, in Phoenix is open on weekdays from 8:30 to 4:30. The more limited Tucson hours are posted online (http://www.azed.gov/educator-certification/2012/11/29/tucson-certification-office-new-temporary-office-hours/).
The Arizona School Counselors Association ( AzSCA) is the state's professional organization (http://www.azsca.org). AzSCA is not involved with the certification process but provides professional development and advocacy.