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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 (2014-2024)* 8% for guidance, educational, school and vocational counselors
Mean Salary (2015)* $56,490 annually for guidance, educational, school and vocational counselors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Outlook and Salary

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 8% between 2014 and 2024. In part, this growth was expected due to increasing student enrollments. As of May 2015, the average annual wage for educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors was $56,490 according to the BLS.

Career Profile

High school guidance counselors help students evaluate their abilities and interests, and realize their talents and personality characteristics. They also advise students 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

Many 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. For example, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction requires that school counselors be licensed. Initial licensure is earned by completing a graduate program and a skills and knowledge analysis, as well as passing an examination. In Idaho, the state's Department of Education requires that school counselors 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.

In summary, job opportunities for high school guidance counselors are expected to increase 8% between 2014-2024. Their duties include providing mental health care for students and assisting with academic planning.

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