College Counselor: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for college counselors. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering School Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a College Counselor?

College counselors, also known as admissions counselors, are counselors at postsecondary institutions who guide high school students through the undergraduate admissions process. They also work with undergraduates who are enrolled at the school and are considering graduate-level education. To help students prepare for their educational futures, admissions counselors offer advice about course selections, application materials and financial aid options at the school. They also provide information about future career options.

The following chart gives you an overview about a career as a college counselor.

Degree Required Bachelor's or master's degree
Education Field of Study Counseling, education
Key Responsibilities Advise students about available educational options; assist students with admission process and pre-admission course requirements; assist transferring students with the transfer process; promote college's programs in the community
Licensure and/or Certification Certification may be required
Job Growth (2014-2024) 8% for all school and career counselors*
Median Salary (2017) $36,309**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

What Is My Earning Potential and Career Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors held 273,400 positions in 2014. The job growth rate during the 2014-2024 decade was expected to be 8%, which was about the national average across all jobs (www.bls.gov). PayScale.com data from January 2017 estimated that most admissions counselors earned between $29,191 and $50,758.

What Are the Job Duties of a College Counselor?

As a college admissions counselor, you would work for a postsecondary institution to recruit students and facilitate the admissions process for applicants. You may help applicants complete paperwork, figure out financial aid processes, and even help guide their choice of major. In order to attract applicants, you organize events to promote your college or university, often within an assigned recruitment territory. Travel is often a regular part of the job, since you will visit college fairs and high schools. Additionally, you could maintain records and transcripts on your assigned students and provide recommendation letters for graduates.

What Education Do I Need?

You should have a bachelor's degree in order to pursue a career in college counseling; most fields of study are acceptable. According to job ads posted on Monster.com in April 2011, many employers prefer some prior professional experience in higher education. Some college counselors may pursue a master's degree in a field such as higher education administration or student affairs. Other skills needed may include knowledge of social networking and diversity issues in recruitment.

How Could I Advance My Career?

There are several professional organizations available to college counselors that sponsor professional development activities. The National Association for College Admissions Counseling offers an Admissions Counselor Basic Training program. Courses in this program include interviewing techniques, training student ambassadors and strategic enrollment. Counselors may also pursue training in the National Training for Counselors and Mentors program, which provides free training regarding financial aid and resources available to students (www.nacacnet.org).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you want to work with students, you could consider becoming a school counselor at a high school. In addition to counseling students about their college options, you would also offer information about other future educational options, like vocational school, entering the workforce or joining the military. You might also counsel them about mental health and wellness concerns. Alternatively, you could pursue a career in an entirely different area, such as marriage and family therapy, in which you would consult with individuals and families to help them build better relationships. For either of these counseling jobs, you usually need to hold a master's degree and pass a licensure exam.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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