Elementary School Guidance Counselor: Career Definition, Employment Outlook, and Educational Requirements

See the job description for an elementary school guidance counselor, and look into potential job growth and salaries in this field. You'll get information on the college degrees a school guidance counselor needs and learn about certification programs. Schools offering Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does an Elementary School Guidance Counselor Do?

Guidance counselors are needed for every school level. At the elementary level, you work with children during their primary developmental and educational years. You'll interact with children in class and in counseling sessions to evaluate their development. If you identify particular strengths or weaknesses that need to be addressed, you can work with parents, students and teachers to provide the observation, testing and counseling needed.

Guidance counselors may work with schools to address other social, behavioral or academic issues. For instance, you may be involved in teaching children about peer pressure or bullying. You'll also need to be able to identify and act on potential signs of domestic abuse.

What are My Employment Opportunities?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), school counselor employment opportunities are anticipated to grow by 8% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS attributed this growth partly to a rise in student enrollments requiring the need for more counselors. Guidance counselors working in elementary and secondary schools had an annual median wage of $53,660 in May 2015.

How Do I Become a Counselor?

Most schools prefer to hire licensed elementary school guidance counselors. Licensing requirements vary by state; however, in many states you will need to hold a master's degree, and in some you may also need teaching certification. You should consider a master's degree program in counseling, possibly with a school counseling track. The master's degree programs are generally between 48 and 60 credits and can be completed in roughly 2 years.

Counseling degree programs generally cover human development as well as evaluation methods. Some counseling programs focus study on mediation and counseling techniques; however, you may want to choose a degree that focuses more in childhood development and working in schools. Another subject you may want to look into is special needs counseling. These programs also require completion of a school practicum, providing practice with real special needs students.

Certification

National certification can be sought through the National Board for Certified Counselors (www.nbcc.org). The voluntary National Certified School Counselor credential is designed around the needs of schools and the basic situations you'll encounter during your career. Applicants must first hold a National Certified Counselor credential from the Board.

What are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are a variety of related careers that you will find similar to school counseling. For example, you may consider becoming an elementary school teacher where you will be required to have the minimum of a bachelor's degree as well as a teaching license or certification. You may also look into different types of counseling such as marriage and family counseling, or substance abuse counseling. With these types of counseling, you will need a master's degree, a set amount of hours in a residency program where you will gain experience, and a license based on the requirements of your state. You may also wish to extend your education to become a psychologist. To become a psychologist, you will need a Ph.D., complete an internship or residency, and obtain a state license. With a psychology degree, you will have more choices for employment including schools and going into private 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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