Guidance Counselor Certification and Certificate Program Info

Read detailed information about a post-master's certificate program for guidance counselors. Find out what prerequisites must be satisfied before entering this program and what courses will be taken. Certification, employment outlook and salary is also discussed.

Essential Information

Individuals who wish to pursue a job as a guidance counselor, commonly referred to as school counselors, may want to enroll in a certificate program in school counseling. These programs are most often offered as post-master's degree certificates. Programs typically focus on the development of counseling theory, social awareness and ethics. Many programs also focus on diversity and recognize the need for innovating counseling in an increasingly integrated world community. Certificate programs are usually 1-10 courses long and can also be found online. Certificates also often prepare students to sit for the school counselor certification exam.

Educational Prerequisites

Students who wish to enroll in these programs must typically have a master's degree and be prepared to submit college transcripts, standardized test scores and letters of recommendation, as well as a resume and personal statement. The strongest applicants also have volunteer or work experience in a counseling role.

Program Coursework

Students can expect a combination of didactic learning and theory application in these classes. Some programs may also require students to log clinical hours before graduating. Here are some classes that might appear in the curriculum:

  • Counseling theory
  • Family dynamics
  • Group counseling
  • Career counseling
  • Psychology of human development

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment for school and career counselors will grow about as fast as average, at a rate of 19% between 2010 and 2020 ( This is due to the increasing enrollments in schools.

Educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors made a median annual salary of $53,610 in May 2012, reported the BLS. The lowest-paid 10% of counselors earned $31,920 or less, while the highest paid 10% brought home $86,680 or more.

Continuing Education and Professional Certification Information

Depending on the state in which a counselor plans to work, he or she may need certification or licensure. Some states have special school counselor certifications, while other states specifically mandate that guidance counselors have a teacher certification. To obtain licensure, potential counselors must complete education requirements set by the state of intended employment. Additionally, voluntary certification from the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) is available. This certification, known as the National Certified Counselor (NCC), may enhance job prospects, and it is also recognized in countries outside the U.S. (

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