What Should I Major in to Become a Guidance Counselor?

Guidance counselors can major in fields of study like psychology, counseling, education and human services. Depending upon where a counselor works, guidance counselors may also be required to enroll in a teacher education program in addition to taking courses related to counseling.

Degree Programs for Guidance Counselors

Education Options and Requirements

Degree programs for guidance counselors are typically found in psychology, education and human services departments at colleges and universities. Important coursework includes psychology, public speaking, education, mathematics and statistics.

The type of training guidance counselors need can vary by state as well as by work setting. Counselors working in public schools need a master's degree. Public school counselors must be licensed as well. Guidance counselors at private schools, however, generally do not need a license. Enrolling in a teacher education program may be beneficial or even necessary for students interested in counseling careers at private schools.


All public school guidance counselors must be licensed. Some guidance counselors may be required to hold a state school counseling certification and complete at least some coursework at the graduate level prior to becoming licensed. Others are required to have a certificate in counseling and teaching and have some teaching experience prior to becoming licensed. Students generally must complete continuing education credits in order to maintain licensure.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

Employment opportunities were predicted to grow by 12% from 2012 to 2022 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 2013 was $53,600.

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