What Are the Education Requirements for School Guidance Counselors?

Guidance counselors work in elementary, middle and secondary schools, helping students make decisions to shape their education and eventual career paths. You can become a school guidance counselor by meeting your state's education, licensure and certification requirements. Keep reading to learn more about each step of this process. Schools offering Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Educational Requirements for School Guidance Counselors

The exact requirements you need to meet to become a school guidance counselor depend on the state where you work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you definitely have to complete some graduate work, and many states require a master's degree (www.bls.gov). In some cases, you need to be certified in both teaching and counseling to practice in schools. If you need to be licensed to work as a school guidance counselor, you probably have to take continuing-education courses throughout your career.

RequirementsVary by state; generally you will need a master's degree, and you may need to be certified in teaching and counseling
Program TypesMaster's degree in education or counseling; doctorate; graduate certificate
Common Course TopicsHuman development, group counseling, counseling diverse populations, counseling theory, career counseling
CertificationVoluntary certification through the National Board for Certified Counselors is available

What Programs Are There?

You can pursue a Master of Science or a Master of Education in School and Guidance Counseling. Some schools also offer a post-master's certificate for students who have already earned a master's degree and want to become a school guidance counselor. If you'd like to continue your education, you can earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Counselor Education or a related topic. A Ph.D. program prepares you to work in high-level and leadership positions in the school guidance-counseling field.

What Are the Programs Like?

The foundational courses of a master's degree program in school guidance counseling typically include human development and psychology. You also learn about counseling theory and application. Career counseling, group counseling and mental health counseling are also covered. You might also take courses that discuss the psychology of learning and counseling diverse populations.

In most master's degree programs in school guidance counseling, you participate in an internship or other supervised hands-on counseling experience. Additionally, master's degree programs usually require a thesis, in which you present new research and analysis in the field of guidance counseling. Ph.D. programs also require extensive research, and you have to prepare a dissertation to earn the credentials. As opposed to online, school guidance counseling degree programs are generally conducted on campus.

What Else Can Improve My Employment Prospects?

You can earn voluntary national certification through the National Board for Certified Counselors, which might help you with career advancement. With further education and experience, you can become a supervisor in a school's counseling department, says the BLS. You could also become a counselor educator or work for your state's Department of Education.

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next »