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Online School Counselor Certification

You can pursue online certificate programs in school counseling rather than certification programs. A certificate program can show you how to assist students with their education and help them cope with the stresses of school.

What Online School Counseling Certificate Programs Are Available?

Online school counseling certificate programs are rare, but there are two different types available to interested students. You can earn either a professional counseling or college counseling certificate online to prepare you to work as a counselor at a middle school, high school or college. The professional counseling certificate allows you to provide mental health support to students, while the college counseling certificate trains you to assist students with their education and career paths. Most online school counseling programs emphasize academic guidance and support rather than mental health counseling.

To enroll in an online counseling certificate program, you typically don't need to hold prior college counseling experience. Most online certificate programs require that you earn your bachelor's degree before enrolling.

Program Fields Professional counseling certificate, college counseling certificate
Program Length 4 to 6 courses
Common Courses Counseling ethics, substance abuse, family problems, personality and psychology, financial aid preparations
Possible Careers Guidance counselor, mental health counselor
Job Outlook (2016-2026)23% growth (for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors)*
Median Salary (2018)$44,630 (for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Does the Program Work?

The online certificate program in school counseling usually consists of 4-6 courses. The program focuses more on the daily application of counseling skills rather than theory-based studies on counseling.

Most of the certificate program assignments can be completed independently and submitted by e-mail, but courses sometimes involve live discussions with faculty and peers online. For this reason, you'll usually need speakers or headphones and a microphone. To access most of the online program's features, you may need to have Java enabled on your browser.

What Courses Will I Take?

Classes in counseling vary depending on your specific certificate program. The mental health counseling courses in professional counseling programs focus on adolescent issues like substance abuse, sexuality and family problems. Guidance counseling classes in college counseling programs focus more on helping students navigate through their coursework and school requirements. Common school counseling courses include:

  • Personality and psychology
  • Ethics in counseling
  • Assessing mental health
  • Using technology when counseling
  • Admissions counseling
  • Financial aid preparation
  • The entrance examinations process
  • Counseling underrepresented students

What Can I Do with My Certificate?

With your certificate in school counseling, you can become a mental health school counselor or a guidance counselor at middle or secondary schools or colleges. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many schools require their counselors to receive licensure, along with their counseling certificate. The BLS stated that licensure requirements vary by state, but you may need to earn your master's degree, pass a set of continuing education courses and sometimes even receive a teaching certificate to become a licensed school counselor.

The BLS reported that positions for educational, vocational and school counselors are expected to increase 13% in the decade from 2016-2026, which was faster than the average for other job fields. The BLS also reported an average yearly salary in the field of $60,160 in 2018.