In order to help children develop socially and emotionally, as well as academically, school counselors work in a cooperative relationship with teachers, parents and of course, the children. A master's degree is typically the minimum requirement for employment. Further education may qualify you for a counselor's position in a postsecondary setting.
School counselor and guidance programs prepare graduates to advocate for students in a variety of educational settings, from elementary school through the secondary level. A master's degree is generally required; however, experienced counselors might further their education to the doctoral level to teach aspiring counselors at the college or university level. An internship or practicum and licensure are also often needed for this career, with requirements varying by state.
|Required Education||Master's degree usually required|
|Other Requirements||State certification or licensure often required|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||8% for school, guidance, educational and vocational counselors|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$53,660 annually for school, guidance, educational and vocational counselors|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A school counselor works with teachers, administrators and parents to help children succeed academically, as well as develop emotionally and socially. They meet with students individually, in small groups and in classroom settings to help students overcome learning and behavioral problems, cope with family difficulties, assess their personal interests and review their academic strengths.
School counselors provide teachers and parents with information on special education services and healthy parent-child communication. With high school students, they might conduct workshops on the college application process, drug and alcohol abuse prevention, resume writing and job interview techniques.
Job Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that job opportunities for school, guidance, educational and vocational counselors would grow by 8% for the years 2014-2024. In May 2015, the BLS reported that these professionals earned a median annual salary of $53,660.
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A master's degree in school counseling or guidance is generally required to be certified in this profession. Students typically complete 48-60 credits in such courses as child abuse prevention, psychology and educational assessment in counseling, grief counseling, student assistance programs and counseling strategies for education.
Internships and clinical practicums with school guidance departments give students the practical experience needed for certification. Some states also mandate passing scores on the Praxis II, which measures knowledge and skills required of school counselors, or another certification exam. Prospective counselors should check with their state education department for requirements.
Experienced counselors who enjoy research and teaching might want to become counselor educators at colleges and universities. This career path requires obtaining a Ph.D. in Counselor Education. A doctoral program typically includes training in recent developments in counseling theory, educational research, advanced educational psychology and qualitative methods.
A doctoral candidate commonly completes an original work of research, or dissertation, in a specialized area of study. The dissertation is written under the guidance of a faculty advisor and usually takes 1-2 years to complete.
Usually you'll need a master's degree to become a school counselor. To practice in the public school system, you'll also need to be licensed or certified by your state. Employment opportunities for school counselors are projected to increase at about the same rate as the national average for all occupations.