Colorado school counselors are licensed by the Colorado Department of Education. They are issued special services licenses, valid for practice with individuals from birth to age 21. There are multiple levels of licensure.
Initial licensure is based on education and testing; a criminal background check is also required. School counselors can earn higher licensing after successful induction and service.
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Colorado school counselors must earn master’s degrees in school counseling. Degrees must be earned through institutions that hold acceptable regional accreditation (http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdeprof/Licensure_institutions.asp). School counseling programs must include appropriate field experience (http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdeprof/specialserviceprovidesreq). The minimum requirement is 100 hours of practicum and 600 hours of internship. The internship must be supervised by a credentialed school counselor and must provide experience with students at multiple grade levels. The school counselor is to meet the competencies found in Regulation 11.09 of the Educator Licensing Act (http://www.sos.state.co.us/CCR/GenerateRulePdf.do?ruleVersionId=5845&fileName=1%20CCR%20301-37).
In-state programs are approved by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. The Department of Education has published a list of approved educator programs across content areas (http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdeprof/resources). The list was last updated in 2013.
Prospective school counselors must pass the Program for Licensing Assessments for Colorado Educators (PLACE) School Counselor Examination.
The examination includes multiple choice questions in five content areas:
Candidates can find study guided on the PLACES website (http://www.place.nesinc.com/CO_viewSG_opener.asp). They can also find test dates for the current school year; PLACES has noted standard and emergency registration deadlines (http://www.place.nesinc.com/CO19_testdates.asp) Examinations are held in ten cities. However, some cities have more limited test dates.
Registration can be carried out online (http://www.place.nesinc.com/CO19_regchecklist.asp). There is a $35 processing fee and a $50 per-test fee. Individuals who apply after the standard registration deadline pay an additional $50 (http://www.place.nesinc.com/CO19_testfees.asp). A candidate who must retake an examination will receive a discounted rate.
Scores are reported to the examinee and also to the school indicated (http://www.place.nesinc.com/CO19_releaseofscores.asp).
Individuals must have criminal background checks upon first application to the Colorado Department of Education; background checks made for other agencies are not accepted. Fingerprints are to be made prior to application. However, the applicant must create an online account with the Department of Education before submitting fingerprints to the Colorado Bureau of Investigations.
Fingerprints can be made at law enforcement agencies in Colorado or elsewhere in the nation. Out-of-state applicants must go to a site that has been approved by their own state's criminal justice department. Fingerprints are to be made on a standard FD-258 fingerprint card. Individuals who are unable to obtain a fingerprint card at the site may purchase one through Colorado Correctional Industries or through Amazon. The Department of Education has provided a PDF of fingerprinting instructions; it includes an image of a fingerprint card correctly filled out with the Department’s OCA number (http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdeprof/fingerprints).
The fingerprint processing fee is $39.50 (payable by certified check, money order, or credit card authorization form). The fingerprint card and fee are to be sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigations in Lakewood.
Prospective educators should allow four to six weeks for the initial CBI processing and an extra two to three weeks for the results to be processed and made available online through the Department of Education website.
A professional who is already licensed as an educator in Colorado will have met the requirement unless the license was issued prior to 2004.
Individuals can apply for their licenses online (http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdeprof/Licensure_FirstTimeApp#SSP). The application fee is currently $80 (http://www.cde.state.co.us/evaluationfees).
Applicants can check the "Educator Licensing" homepage to see what stage the Department is in the application processing process (http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdeprof).
Initial special service licenses are valid for three years. In order to be issued a professional level certificate, the service provider must successfully complete an induction program. The induction program includes mentoring and professional development. It may be provided by a public school district or by another qualifying agency. Some charter schools and private schools provide induction to new educators. Once requirements for the higher license have been met, the professional will receive a certification of completion; this may be uploaded to the online application system. The professional license is renewed on a five year basis.
Individuals who hold national board certification can be exempted from the usual induction requirements (http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdeprof/Licensure_provtoprof_info).
School counselors who are employed under professional level licensing can move up to master level licensing provided that additional requirements are met. Master's level licensing is based on demonstrated professional growth, community involvement, and professional commitment. A school counselor does not become eligible until he or she has been licensed at the professional level for at least five years. Requirements are described in Colorado Code of Regulations 3.09(5)(b).
A master certificate costs $80. The certificate is valid for seven years.
Requirements for out-of-state educators vary depending on experience level. Special service providers are required to pass the qualifying examination before applying for an initial licensure (http://www.naces.org/members.html). However, service providers with three or more years of successful experience may be exempted from completing the Colorado induction program, provided that the other state is judged to have comparable standards.
International applicants must have their credentials professionally evaluated through some agency that is a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services, or NACES. The Department of Education refers international applicants to the NACES website (http://www.naces.org/members.html).
An individual who has not yet met all requirements for the special services license can, in some instances, be issued Temporary Educator Eligibility (TEE). The minimum requirement is enrollment in a qualifying program; TEE will only be granted to a student in cases where there is documented need. TEE is granted for one year, but may be renewed twice.
Professional Services & Educator Licensure can be reached by telephone at 303-866-6628 or by email at ‘educator.licensing at cde.state.co.us’. Walk-ins are also accepted at the Department of Education in Denver until 4:30 PM on business days.
The Colorado School Counselors Association is an additional professional resource (http://www.coloradoschoolcounselor.org).