What Training Do I Need to Be a High School Guidance Counselor?

High school guidance counselors meet with students to help plan next steps after graduation and ensure teenagers are successful in their personal development. Find out about the education and experience you'll need to pursue a career in this field. Learn about recommended courses, degree requirements, and job duties. Schools offering Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

High School Guidance Counselor Educational Requirements

To become a high school guidance counselor, you must have at least a master's degree in counseling, and most schools require that you follow a program specifically in school counseling. Many programs are just general school counseling programs, but some are specifically in secondary education or high school guidance counseling. To be admitted into one of these master's degree programs, you must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. There are no specific major requirements, but some schools recommend a background in education. Field experience is required to begin working with students under supervision.

Profession Requirements Bachelor's degree from accredited university, master's degree in counseling, field experience with students
Common Course Topics Counseling theories, career development, conflict resolution, ethics in counseling, issues facing young adults
Online Availability Master's degree programs available online
Job Duties Guide students through college selection process, advise individuals on program admission requirements, counsel teenagers on personal issues
Median Annual Salary (2015) $53,660* (for educational, school, guidance and vocational counselors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Topics Will I Study?

Your Master of Education in School Counseling courses may teach methods for providing counseling to individual students or groups. Generally, the program takes two years to complete; this includes a year of classes with at least one clinical practicum and another year of field experience. You may study strategies for interacting with students to analyze and assess their overall well-being. Other classes cover counseling theories and provide the opportunity to practically apply and integrate them into a school-counseling program. You may also study:

  • Multicultural counseling strategies
  • Career development methods
  • Issues facing young adults
  • Conflict resolution techniques
  • Ethics in counseling
  • Special-education counseling

Are Online Programs Available?

Some online school counseling master's degree programs are available; however, you must complete some courses on-campus through residencies as well as satisfy experiential opportunities at schools near you. At some schools, you can complete the online program through educational applications, such as Angel or Blackboard. Some have live classes on the weekend that allow you to interact with your classmates and professors as you would in a campus-based program.

What Are the Job Responsibilities?

As a high school guidance counselor, you guide students as they choose their college major and the university they want to attend. You may help students meet the admission requirements for their school of choice and help them find ways to apply for scholarships or financial aid. Students with other social, personal or family problems may also come to you, so you may coach them through those issues. As of May 2015, educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors made a median annual salary of $53,660 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov).

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