Educational Counseling Jobs: Career and Salary Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as an educational counselor. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and licensure information. Schools offering Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Educational Counselor?

Educational counselors, also known as school counselors, are counselors who work in elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities. Those with jobs in elementary and middle schools typically help students work through mental health problems, classroom behavioral issues, social challenges, family troubles and other issues that can affect their educational performance and general well-being. Counselors at high schools provide these same services, but they also help students choose courses, offer career advice and help college-bound students navigate the college admissions process. At the college level, educational counselors help undergraduates choose a major, find classes that support their career goals, take advantage of internship and study abroad opportunities, network with alumni, fill out postsecondary school applications and/or apply for jobs after graduation.

See the table below to learn more:

Educational Counselor
Degree RequiredMaster's degree
Education Field of StudyCounseling
Psychology
Education
Key ResponsibilitiesGood interpersonal skills
Counseling skills
Keeping student records
CertificationGuidance counselors in public schools need to be certified or licensed
Job Growth (2014-2024)8% for all school and career counselors*
Mean Salary (2015) $56,490 for all school and career counselors*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does an Educational Counselor Do?

Educational counselors provide guidance to students in elementary schools, secondary schools, colleges and universities. As a school counselor, you might help students develop academic plans based on their personalities, strengths or interests. Additional job duties could include facilitating student orientations or helping students cope with personal and academic problems. In some cases, counselors keep student records, manage student recruitment efforts and help students prepare resumes or other job interview materials.

What Training Do I Need?

You typically need at least a master's degree in a counseling field to be considered for employment. Relevant master's programs may include those in school counseling, counseling psychology or counseling education. These programs often explore topics like ethics, student evaluation, group counseling, counseling program management and crisis intervention. Other areas of study might include mental health counseling, multicultural counseling, research methodologies and academic counseling.

Master's programs in this field sometimes require completion of clinical practica or field observations. In addition, you may be expected to write a thesis before receiving your degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many aspiring school counselors need a master's degree as well as school counselor certification to qualify for employment. In some states, teaching certification is also required. School counseling certification usually entails completion of a state-administered exam in addition to some documented experience in the field.

How Much Could I Earn?

The mean salary for educational, vocational and school counselors was $56,490, as reported by the BLS in May 2015. The top ten percent of counselors in this field earned a salary of $87,640 or more, while the lowest ten percent of school counselors made $32,280 or less per year. The top paying industries for educational counselors were insurance carriers, the federal government, elementary and secondary schools, other insurance-related firms, and grantmaking and giving services providers.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Another career option in the field of education is a career as a school principal. In this job, your responsibilities would include overseeing staff, managing the budget, and helping with the development and implementation of school policies that support students' academic success. To work as a principal, you need a master's degree, a license, and several years of teaching experience. Alternatively, you could consider becoming a counselor with a specialization in a different area. For instance, you might work as a marriage and family therapist, where you would help individuals, couples and families work through issues that are affecting their relationships. These professionals need a master's degree and a license to practice.

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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