High School Counselor Training and Certification Program Info

High school counselors provide students with educational and social guidance, vocational advice and crisis intervention. Most states mandate educational standards, licensure and certification for school counselors.

Essential Information

Several graduate schools offer master's programs in school counseling to meet state requirements and offer training in child development and advocacy.

Master's degrees such as the Master of Education in School Counseling are commonly required by employers. Such educational counseling programs often take approximately two years to complete and may include online instruction. Applicants already holding a master's degree in another field may complete a truncated course of study resulting in a graduate certificate. Most master's programs in school counseling include practical experience with school-aged children.

Typically, master's programs in school counseling require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree. Undergraduate courses in psychology, education and social sciences are recommended preparation for graduate-level studies. Candidates may need to complete a requisite number of teaching hours prior to matriculation.

  • Program Levels in School Counseling: Master's degree, certificate
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree, related course work, teaching hours
  • Program Length: Two years
  • Online Availability: Some portions available online
  • Experiential Learning: Practical experience opportunities available

Master's Degrees in School Counseling

Most universities offering master's degree programs in school counseling offer courses that are designed to meet state licensure and certification requirements. Students may also have the opportunity to apply what they have learned in internships in a school. Some common core courses might include:

  • Childhood psychology and development
  • Cultural awareness
  • Vocational and educational guidance
  • Behavioral evaluation and encouragement
  • Legal and ethical standards
  • Family and child advocacy training

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), around 246,280 educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors were employed in the United States in May 2014 (www.bls.gov). The majority worked in elementary and high schools with median salaries of $53,370. The BLS reported an increase of 12% in school and career counseling positions between 2012 and 2022.

Certification and Continuing Education

All states mandate licensure for high school counselors. The typical educational qualification required is a master's degree, and some states may include regulated certification as an eligibility factor for employment in the field. Some previous teaching experience may be necessary for licensure, and counselors may need to participate in continuing education courses to maintain a credential or license.

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