Educational counselors work in preschool to high school, encouraging students to discover their interests, set career goals, and address personal issues. They usually need a graduate degree and state certification.
School counselors offer advocacy, guidance and assessment services for preschool through high school students. All states require certification, adequate education and a substantial amount of experience prior to entering the profession. Counselors must maintain a certification and stay current on legal and practical procedures through continuing education courses.
|Required Education||Masters degree|
|Other Requirements||Certification and continuing education|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||8%|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$53,660|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Career Options for an Educational Counselor
School counselors help students with social, academic and personal issues. They provide a safe environment for students to realize personal growth, potential and interests. Like teachers, school counselors evaluate and educate students, encouraging them to develop personal interests, find resolutions to conflicts and manage academic and career goals. Additional responsibilities include drug and alcohol awareness and prevention, identification of possible abuse and assess problems with family or peers that may interfere with a student's education or development.
Elementary School Counselor
Elementary school counselors typically provide guidance to students in one-on-one sessions or within group settings. Guidance counselors of young children observe development, relational and learning progress and report potential issues with teachers and parents. Additionally, they may assess any special needs of a child due to learning disorders or advanced development. Elementary school counselors may review a curriculum to identify its conformance with the developmental needs of the school district, as well as the academic needs of the students.
Secondary School Counselor
Counselors in high schools may provide academic advising to students in regard to their college major or career guidance based on a student's aptitude and interests. To ensure thorough support, counselors should be aware of academic requirements, financial aid options and admissions processes for colleges and universities. Job counseling typically requires knowledge of resume building, interviewing skills and job searching.
Involved directly with students, high school counselors are often called upon to assess and intervene in social problems and must be aware of legal disclosure and confidentiality obligations. Counselors may provide substance abuse education as well as multicultural awareness at the secondary education level.
Education Requirements for School Counselors
Counselor Academic and Certification Requirements
Most states require a school counselor to hold a master's degree in school counseling. Additional mandates may include substantial experience interacting with children, as well as several hours of direct service work. This requirement may be completed through internships, supervised employment or a practicum offered through a graduate program. All states issue certification or licenses to school counselors, and more than half regulate the credentials through a national or state examination. State regulations vary greatly, and students should check academic, experience and licensure requirements.
Continuing Education Requirements
School counselors are required to satisfy a determined number of continuing education hours to maintain an active certification, though the individual requirements differ from state to state. School counselors must typically complete courses related to professional development. Continuing education requirements must be completed at an accredited university. State counseling certification is typically valid for 5 years, though some states require renewal annually, while others may extend up to 10 years.
Employment Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment for career and school counselors would see 8% growth in employment opportunities from 2014 to 2024. The BLS stated that the median salary for vocational, educational, school and guidance counselors was $53,660 as of May 2015.
A master's degree in school counseling is necessary to become an educational counselor. Practical experience may also be mandated, and those interested in entering this field should complete an internship or practicum as part of their training. Certification or licensure is also required.