How Can I Become an Educational Counselor?

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in educational counseling. 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, often called school counselors, advise students on educational issues, mental health, personal problems and social challenges. If they counsel in a secondary school setting, they help students understand the college admission process and requirements, as well as help them select which schools might be best suited for them. For students who are not headed to a traditional 4-year college, educational counselors offer advice on other post-secondary options, such as attending a vocational school, directly entering the workforce or joining the military.

For more information about the career of educational counselor, see the table below:

Degree RequiredBachelor's degree (minimum)
Master's degree (often required)
Education Field of StudyPsychology
Key ResponsibilitiesConsult with teachers, administrators and parents to identify students' needs,
Coordinate services for special needs students,
Advise on potential colleges to apply to, the application process, and potential majors,
Advise on vocational alternatives to college,
Maintain records as required by local laws and regulations
Licensure/CertificationVaries by state, but all require some form of licensure and/or certification
Job Growth (2014-2024)8% for school and career counselors*
Mean Salary (2015)$56,490 for school and career counselors*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Do as an Educational Counselor?

The main focus of educational counselors is advising and guiding students to the next level of education while helping them deal with behavioral or social problems. At the elementary school level, you will be focused on interactions in the classroom and student development. At the high school level, you will still address social and behavioral development, but you will also focus on educational advancement and future career possibilities. You will assist students with specific skills, such as filling out college applications, applying for scholarships and writing resumes. Educational counselors also exist at the postsecondary level, but are usually referred to as academic advisors. If you choose this career path, you will assist college students with choices of major and course planning.

What Education and Certification Will I Need?

Because counseling is such a general field, your education, licensure and certification requirements will vary depending upon the grade level you choose and state of residence. In all states, you will need to complete a bachelor's degree in psychology, education or a related field at the very minimum. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that a master's degree is typically required ( During your schooling, you can expect to take courses in human development, counseling at-risk youth, career development, psychology and more. Additionally, you will need to research the state in which you wish to practice, as requirements for licensure or certification differ. For example, some states require you to obtain state school counseling certification, while others may also require a teaching certificate.

How Much Could I Expect to Earn in this Field?

Your compensation may vary depending upon your educational background, licensure and certification, years of experience, grade level you counsel and location. According to the BLS, the mean annual salary for educational, vocational and school counselors was $56,490 in May 2015. The BLS also predicted about-average growth in employment for educational, vocational and school counselors, at 8% between 2014 and 2024.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Rather than working as a school counselor, you could consider pursuing a different specialization within the field of counseling. For instance, you might want to become a marriage and family therapist, where your job would involve consulting with individuals, couples and families about relationship issues. Another option is to get a job as a high school teacher. In addition to their teaching responsibilities, many teachers also support students preparing for their futures; for instance, they might write letters of recommendation or provide preparation for standardized college entrance exams like the SAT and the ACT.

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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