What Should I Major in to Become a Guidance Counselor?

At the undergraduate level, students seeking to become guidance counselors can major in any field. In preparation for licensure, however, students in most states are required to attain a master's degree directly related to guidance and counseling in schools.

Major Options and Requirements

Important coursework for guidance counselors includes school psychology, communication, education, human services and statistics. The type of training guidance counselors need can vary by state as well as by work setting. Counselors working in public schools in most states need a master's degree and must be licensed. Graduate programs offering an education specialist (EdS) degree often fulfill this role. Guidance counselors at private schools, however, generally do not need a license. Enrolling in a teacher education program may be beneficial, and may even be necessary for students interested in counseling careers at private schools.


Most public school guidance counselors must be licensed. Some guidance counselors may be required to have completed a supervised internship or practicum and a master's degree program prior to becoming licensed. Others are required to have a teaching license and some teaching experience prior to becoming licensed. Students generally complete continuing education credits in order to maintain licensure.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

Employment opportunities are predicted to grow by 8% from 2014 to 2024 for career and school counselors, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Job growth will be due to an increasing number of elementary schools now required to hire counselors. Expanding roles of counselors may also add to the growth. These roles may include drug and alcohol abuse counseling, suicide counseling and crisis intervention. According to the BLS, the median salary for guidance counselors in 2014 was $53,370.

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