What Should I Major in to Become a Guidance Counselor?

Apr 23, 2020

At the undergraduate level, students seeking to become guidance counselors can major in any field. In preparation for licensure, however, students in most states are required to attain a master's degree directly related to guidance and counseling in schools.

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Major Options and Requirements

Individuals must typically have a graduate degree and a license if they want to help students with academic and social skills as a guidance counselor. Many undergraduate majors will fulfill the education prerequisites for the required graduate degree. Future guidance counselors can major in any field at the undergraduate level, though certain majors provide the foundational coursework necessary for future studies. Helpful undergraduate majors include psychology, communications, counseling, education, human services and statistics.

Counselors working in public schools need a master's degree and must be licensed. Possible graduate degree programs that fulfill the requirements include a Master of Science in School Counseling, Master of Education in School Counseling, and a Master of Counseling in School Counseling.

Counselors working in private schools, however, generally do not need a license.

Enrolling in a teacher education program may be beneficial, and may even be required for students interested in counseling careers at private schools.


All public school guidance counselors require a license, certification, or endorsement, depending on the state. Most are required to have completed a supervised internship or practicum and a master's degree program prior to becoming licensed. A few are required to have a teaching license and some teaching experience prior to becoming licensed. Students generally complete continuing education credits in order to maintain licensure.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

Employment opportunities are predicted to grow by 8% from 2018 to 2028 for career and school counselors, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or 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 school and career counselors in 2018 was $56,310.

Those interested in becoming guidance counselors can major in a number of different areas, as long as they have a solid foundation of related coursework. While many graduate programs qualify students for licensure, location and work environment may dictate other requirements.

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