School Counselor Career Info, Job Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a school counselor. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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School counselors are important individuals that offer guidance, counseling, and support to students and their families. To become a school counselor, a bachelor's and a master's is most often required, as well as a state license. To complete a bachelor's and master's program takes, on average, around 7 years.

Essential Information

School counseling is a rewarding career because it gives people the chance to help others who are suffering from social and personal problems. In order to succeed as one of these counselors, students must have good interpersonal skills. One-on-one interviews are conducted by these professionals, helping them see what's wrong with a particular student. Over the weeks, the counselor will continue to monitor their behavior and help them reach a stable state of being. At least a master's in a psychology related field is needed to work as a school counselor. Courses in these programs range from intervention strategies to diversity counseling. Most states require counselors to get their license in order to help students.

Career School Counselor
Education Requirements Master's degree
Other Requirements State-issued credential
Job Growth (2014-24)* 8%
Mean Salary (2015)* $56,490 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

School Counselor Career Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( reports that of the approximately 686,000 counselors employed in 2014, 273,400 were working as school counselors. Marriage and family counselors made up one of the smallest groups, at 33,700. The BLS also reports that an 8% increase in the employment of school counselors is expected for the 2014-2024 period.

The expanded range of responsibilities handed to school counselors has resulted in an increase in hiring. Some of these additional responsibilities include substance abuse and grief counseling. The mean annual salary of a school counselor in May of 2015 was $56,490 according to the BLS. Licensing and certification requirements vary by state, according to the BLS. Most states require school counselors to be either licensed or certified.

Educational Requirements

Two degrees are needed for an aspiring school counselor. Bachelor's degrees in counseling are uncommon; however, an undergraduate program in psychology provides ample preparation for advanced study in a master's degree in school psychology program. Both degrees can be completed in about seven years. Some states license school counselors who have earned a bachelor's degree and completed some graduate coursework, but most require school counselors to hold a master's degree.

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Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

A bachelor's degree in psychology introduces students to the process of decision-making, abnormal modes of behavior and brain functionality. Core psychology classes introduce the fundamentals of human behavior, the history of psychology, ethics in the field and research methods. Many courses are electives, and students who plan to complete a graduate school counseling program should enroll in a child guidance or child psychology course. Other possible electives include abnormal psychology, therapy, personality theory and the psychology of learning. Many bachelor's degree programs include an independent study class, which is appropriate for students who plan to enroll in a graduate psychology degree program.

Master of Arts in School Psychology

Many master's degree programs in school psychology include a component that meets state counseling requirements in public schools. An internship is typically required in order to complete a master's degree in school psychology. Additionally, some programs may include a work experience component. Core courses cover topics such as student assessment, intervention strategies, learning and diversity counseling. The work experience practicum is important and tests a student's knowledge of school counseling theory and their interpersonal skills. A licensed school psychologist oversees a student's progress during the completion of the work experience practicum.

The demand for school counselors will continue to increase as their job responsibilities continue to grow. Counselors often work one-on-one with their students and monitor their progress, provide encouragement and counseling, and help student's deal with social issues. Therefore, to be a successful school counselor, a candidate must have strong communication and interpersonal skills.

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