Careers in College Counseling: Job Options and Requirements

College counselors assist students with the emotional and academic difficulties of college life. Find out about the curricula of counseling programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for college counselors.

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College counselors help postsecondary students deal with personal and academic issues. Careers include working as a postsecondary administrator, mental health counselor or college career counselor. These careers require individuals who have a master's degree and they may also need to be licensed.

Essential Information

Those interested in helping college students manage their issues and develop their skills and self-identities should consider a career as a college counselor. Through aptitude tests and questionnaires, career counselors help students choose the right career path. Mental health counselors work with students, and sometimes collaborate with parents, to help solve difficult issues, whether they deal with abuse or bullying. Some of these professionals are licensed. Education administrators are higher-level employees who may also offer their assistance to students in need of guidance. Most counselors earn their master's degrees.

Career Postsecondary Education Administrator Mental Health Counselor College Career Counselor
Education Requirements Master's degree Master's degree Master's degree usually required
Other Requirements Work experience preferred Licensure required State credential required
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 9% 20% 8% (for school and career counselors)
Mean Salary (2015)* $102,610 $45,080 $56,490 (for educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

College counseling careers can be very lucrative and rewarding, and they offer the chance to help students work out problems in their lives. Below are descriptions and overviews of possible career options for counseling graduates.

College Admissions Counselor

College admissions counselors work for colleges and universities to promote their school, help students navigate the college application process and select which applicants are offered admission to the school. They may travel to high schools within a region to provide information about and answer students' questions about their college.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that postsecondary education administrators, which included admissions counselors, made a mean annual salary of $102,610 as of May 2015. Job growth in the field of postsecondary education administrators was expected to increase by 9% from 2014-2024.

Personal Counselor

College students are often living independent of their family for the first time. Colleges employ counselors who are trained to help students cope with personal issues and transition to college life. College counselors may offer a range of services, including addiction counseling and crisis intervention counseling.

According to the BLS, the field of mental health counselors was expected to grow at a much faster-than-average rate of 20% between 2014-2024. Mental health counselors earned a mean salary of $45,080 per year as of May 2015.

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College Career Counselor

College career counselors assist college students with selecting a major and provide advice on interviewing with prospective employers, building a resume and seeking employment that matches their skills and aptitudes. These counselors work for colleges and universities and may help current students and alumni develop realistic career goals and job-search strategies.

The BLS predicted that positions for school and career counselors at colleges, universities and professional schools would grow by 8% from 2014-2024. School and career counselors working in colleges, universities, and professional schools made an average annual salary of $56,490 as of May 2015.

Job Requirements

College Admissions Counselor

Although requirements for college admissions counselors vary by size and type of school, most are required to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Experience may not be required, but an outgoing personality and people skills are necessary.

Personal Counselor

To comply with state licensing requirements, counselors must hold a minimum of a master's degree in counseling or a closely related field, complete a period of supervised clinical work and pass a licensing examination. Although states set their own education and experience requirements, many states use the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) as their licensing examination. Those who pass the NCE earn the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential. To maintain licensure and NCC certification, counselors must complete continuing education courses on a regular basis.

College Career Counselor

College career counselors are required to have a master's degree and may be required to hold a counseling credential, such as the NCC. Some states mandate licensure for postsecondary career counselors.

Attending college is a time of considerable adjustment, as many college students are living independently of family for the first time in their lives and may be struggling to determine a career path for their future. Postsecondary education administrators, mental health counselors and college career counselors are professionals who work with college students to help them address academic and personal issues during college. Professionals working in these fields need a master's degree and may also need to be licensed.

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