How to Become a School Counselor

Career Advice for Aspiring School Counselors

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Today, the academic, social, and career development of America's youth remains more important than ever. A key player in that development is the school counselor. If you have a background in education, social services, or working with children, you may want to consider developing your career skills through focused retraining, such as online school counselor training courses, to enter the counseling profession.

Career Skills for an Aspiring School Counselor

School counselors work at all levels of the educational system, from elementary school to middle school, secondary to post-secondary. Because school counselors are responsible for helping students discover their talents and interests, as well as develop both academic and career goals, school counselors should be empathetic, possess solid communication skills, and have a desire to work with youth. As school counselors are privy to private information, they should also both be sensitive to individual problems as well as have the ability to maintain confidential information.

Career Advice for the School Counselor: Education Background

The typical minimum educational requirement for employment as a counselor is a bachelor's degree. However, to become a licensed counselor, most employer's desire prospective candidates to have a master's degree. A master's program traditionally requires between 48 and 60 hours of graduate study, as well as supervised clinical experience.

Yet, if you are looking to retrain and improve your career skills, then you may want to consider online school counselor training courses. Typical coursework may include student affairs, elementary or secondary school counseling, career counseling, and more. After completing your education, you may want to apply for certification from the National Board for Certified Counselors, Inc. or join the American School Counselor Association, which has over 25,000 members.
As the school systems across the country continue to prepare students for higher education and jobs in tomorrow's economy, school counselors should remain a key part of the process, offering insightful guidance and promoting social development.

Career Outlook

  • Median Annual Salary: In May 2013, the school counselors earned a median annual salary of $56,160 with top 10% making more than $86,870.
  • Career Outlook 2012-2022: 12 Percent.
  • States with Highest Employment: California, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida.
  • Top Paying States: New Jersey, Alaska, New York, District of Columbia, California.
  • Where they Work: Some school counselors, especially middle school and high school counselors, work on a contract basis during the summer months
  • Get Certified: Many school counselors choose to become certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors, which awards the National Certified Counselor credential. This certification requires at least two years of supervised experience in the field, from which graduates of programs approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs are exempt
  • Education: A master's degree in counseling or a related field is required for most positions
  • What they Do: School counselors employ a variety of methods to assess the needs of their students. From aptitude tests to classroom observation, the methods are used to paint a full picture of a student's physical, intellectual, and emotional needs

Bureau of Labor Statistics, School and Career Counselors
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors, May 2013 Wages
Association for Counselor Education and Supervision
Center for School Counseling Outcome Research
American School Counselor Association
School Counselor Competencies