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What Are the Education Requirements to Be a School Counselor?

School counselors help children and young adults cope with the stresses of their lives, reach a place of psychological balance, and prepare for their futures. To work as a school counselor, you'll need to complete a graduate program and become licensed. Read on to find out more about the requirements for a career as a school counselor.

Education Requirements

The first step towards becoming a school counselor is completing a bachelor's degree program. You'll then need to earn a master's degree in school counseling. There are also certificate options available for those with graduate degrees in related fields, like social work, clinical psychology, or education.

Graduate education in school counseling consists of core counseling and school counseling coursework. The core counseling courses cover topics like counseling theory and methods, group therapy, testing, and assessment. School counseling courses may include childhood and adolescent counseling, learning theories, and school counseling regulations. These programs also incorporate practicum experiences, in which students gain real-world experience counseling students in school settings.

Important Facts About School Counselor Programs

Prerequisites Master's degree programs require a bachelor's degree and, in some cases, teaching experience and licensure; Certificate programs require a counseling master's degree
Online Availability Blended programs with online coursework and in-person internships/residencies are common
Continuing Education Required by most states to renew licenses, usually every five years
Similar Programs Clinical mental health counseling, couples and family counseling
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 13% growth (all school and career counselors)*
Median Salary (2018) $56,310 (all school and career counselors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Certification and Licensing

Licensing or certification requirements for school counselors vary greatly from state to state. However, many of them stipulate that school counselors complete a state-approved graduate program in addition to a supervised internship before being allowed to work in public schools. Some states also require you to have a valid teaching license in order to work as a school counselor, which has its own set of educational requirements.

Career Information

School counselors are employed in all levels of education, from elementary schools to colleges. As a school counselor, your main responsibilities revolve around working with students to address various personal, social, mental, and behavioral problems. You may also identify problems at home, such as domestic violence or drug abuse, and intervene accordingly, should the situation require it. Another key element of your job, especially at the high-school and college levels, involves working with students to determine their occupational aptitudes and help them achieve their goals.