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Guidance Counselor Certification and Certificate Program Info

Guidance counselor certificate programs allow students learn about an array of counseling concepts, principles and issues through direct-experience practical and traditional coursework.

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Essential Information

Guidance counselor certificate programs are geared towards post-master's students preparing for a credential exam or pursuing a career as a guidance counselor; more commonly referred to as a school counselor. Curriculum is usually 1-10 courses long and focuses on the development of counseling theory, social awareness, diversity and ethics. Direct experience is gained through clinical hours. Distance or online learning options are available. The prerequisites to earn a guidance counselor certification include a master's degree, submission of academic transcripts, standardized exam scores, reference letters, a resume and a statement of intent.


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  • College Student Counseling

Guidance Counselor Certification

Students in these programs can expect a combination of didactic learning and theory application in their classes. Completion of a clinical practicum is required for graduation. Some examples of core courses are:

  • 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 at a rate of 8% between 2014 and 2024. The mean annual salary for these professionals was $56,490, as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov).

Continuing Education

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 credentials, while other states specifically mandate a teacher certification. To obtain licensure, potential counselors must complete state education requirements. Additionally, the voluntary and internationally-recognized National Certified Counselor (NCC) designation can be acquired from the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), which may enhance job prospects (www.nbcc.org).

Guidance counselor certification can boost employment opportunities while enhancing professional development, as individuals learn various areas of theory and how to apply them. The certification may even be a requirement in some states for practice.

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