High School Guidance Counselor: Job Outlook and Career Profile

High school guidance counselor positions require significant formal education. Learn about the degree, job duties and licensure required to see if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

A high school guidance counselor or school counselor provides mental health care for students, assists with academic planning and may provide education on topics such as peer pressure or drug abuse. A master's degree is usually needed for this career. Licensure or certification is also often necessary; although requirements vary by state. In addition, related work experience is sometimes required.

Required Education Master's degree usually required
Other Requirements State license or certification may be required, experience sometimes necessary
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 12% for guidance, educational, school and vocational counselors
Mean Salary (2013)* $56,160 annually for guidance, educational, school and vocational counselors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Outlook for a High School Guidance Counselor

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that job opportunities for school and career counselors, including high school guidance counselors, were expected to rise by 12% between 2012 and 2022 ( Growth was expected to be due to the increased need and use of school counselors for increasing student enrollments.


The BLS reported the salaries of high school guidance counselors with that of educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors. As of May 2013, the average annual wage for these professionals was $56,160. The median salary was $53,600.

Career Profile for a High School Guidance Counselor

High school guidance counselors help students evaluate their abilities and interests. These professionals help students realize their talents and personality characteristics. They also advise them on developing academic and career goals. Counselors may use aptitude tests and other tools to understand a student's strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, counselors help students with personal problems, such as family abuse or drug addiction.

Educational Requirements

Most states require that high school guidance counselors complete a master's degree program in counseling. Master's degree programs typically last 1-2 years and introduce students to topics in psychology ranging from personality assessments to substance abuse. Core courses may include human growth and development, counseling theories, career development and substance abuse counseling.

As students advance in their studies, they generally learn techniques to counsel individuals, groups and families. Programs may also cover career counseling. In their second year of study, students participate in a professional practicum in which they provide counseling under the supervision of a licensed professional.

Certification and Licensing

Requirements for certification or licensing vary widely because they are handled by the individual states. According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, school counselors must be licensed. The initial license is earned through completing a graduate program and a skills and knowledge analysis, as well as passing an examination ( In Idaho, according to the state's Department of Education, school counselors must hold a Pupil Personnel Services Certificate with a counselor endorsement. To earn the certificate and endorsement, a person must have a master's degree, meet experience requirements and have a recommendation (

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