Guidance counselors typically work with either elementary, middle or secondary school students. Such programs are designed for both certified teachers and non-certified candidates. A master's degree is generally a requirement for those seeking to become licensed counselors.
Programs cover subjects that include normal and abnormal development, theories of personality and counseling, career and vocational guidance, and counseling and cultural differences. Graduates may participate in continuing education programs through organizations such as the American Counseling Association.
Some programs require a bachelor's degree, and many programs recommend prospective students fulfill state licensing requirements before applying for admission.
A practicum in a school setting and a thesis can also be requirements for graduation.
Master's Degree Programs in Guidance and Counseling
Prospective guidance counseling students should check with the Department of Education in their state of planned employment to find out about additional coursework and testing requirements for licensure. Curricula in many graduate degree programs in guidance and counseling require completion of approximately 45 credit hours. Some of the class topics common to most of these programs include:
- Introductory measurement and evaluation
- Procedures and theories of counseling
- Fundamentals of career development
- Ethics and law in guidance counseling
- Group counseling and therapy
- Principles of psychological testing
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
There are some states that call for public school counselors to have earned a counseling certificate and a teaching certificate, along with having a minimum amount of teaching experience.
The BLS states that the majority of school and career counseling jobs in 2014 were in an educational environment. The projected job growth for these counselors is 8% between 2014-2024. School and career counselors working in elementary and secondary schools in 2015 earned a median salary of $61,260 per year, while those in a college or university setting earned $47,620 per year (www.bls.gov).
Graduates of a master's degree program in guidance counseling can continue their higher education by applying for admittance to a doctoral degree program in such academic areas as educational psychology. Other continuing education opportunities exist through organizations like the American Counseling Association (www.counseling.org) and the American School Counselor Association (www.schoolcounselor.org). Professional development courses are available via the Internet, conventions, seminars, and workshops.
Graduates with a master's degree in guidance and counseling are able to pursue a career as a guidance counselor in a variety of locations from elementary schools to colleges.