What Is a High School Career Counselor?

Research what it takes to become a high school career counselor. Learn about degree requirements, licensure, salary and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a High School Career Counselor?

A high school career counselor helps kids figure out their career goals and how best to reach those goals. These professionals need a master's degree to work in the field. A high school career counselor may begin by giving students various assessments to identify their particular skills and interests. They can then use the results to help students explore career options, as well as what education they may need to pursue the given careers. They also help students set realistic goals, prepare for interviews and select the best educational program for them. High school career counselors may help set up networking or job fair opportunities for students as well. Continue reading to learn more about job duties, training and potential pay.

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study School counseling
Key Responsibilities Inform students about career workshops/fairs; assist students with constructing a resume and cover letter; practice interviewing and networking skills
Licensure/Certification A credential such as licensure or certification is required to work in public schools
Job Growth (2014-2024) 8% (for all school and career counselors)*
Average Salary (2015) $63,760 (for all educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors in elementary and secondary schools)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do as a High School Counselor?

In general, school counselors serve as student advocates and help guide their academic careers. If you work in this profession, you might be responsible for assessing students' abilities and interests to help them develop appropriate academic and career goals. This could include advising students on grades, effective study habits, school registration, personal or emotional issues, administrative protocols or time management. Counselors may also collaborate with teachers and administrative staff on extracurricular activities, educational programs or curriculum development.

How Do I Get This Job?

To begin this career, you'll first you need a degree. Most states require you to have a master's degree before they will allow you to sit for a licensing exam. Some master's degree programs in counseling include substantial psychology components. Programs typically take 2-3 years to complete. While some courses of study may culminate in a comprehensive exam, others require a master's thesis, which is a substantial work of original research that's typically overseen by an advisory committee.

In a master's degree program, you could learn about educational systems and their administration as well as psychological techniques needed to guide high school-aged students. The majority of the instruction takes place in the classroom, although many programs include internships, clinical apprenticeships or other programs designed to help you acquire professional experience before entering the work force; in fact, many states require you to have completed a specific number of clinical hours before you can be licensed. You could also learn about counseling psychology, career psychology, group counseling methodologies, psychological interventions for adolescents or parent counseling. Other areas of study could include multicultural counseling, school guidance programs, community development, counseling ethics and behavioral disorder diagnosis.

Additionally, you must have a license to practice as a high school counselor in most states. Licensing requirements vary by state, but most require graduate study, usually a master's degree. If you work in a public high school, you may need a teaching certificate as well. Some states might require you to take an examination.

What Are the Job Prospects and Pay?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the employment of school and career counselors was expected to increase 8% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). This rise is due to the increase in school enrollment and the expansion of vocational programs. The average annual salary for elementary and secondary counselors was $63,760 as of May 2015.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists, as well as rehabilitation counselors are some related positions that require master's degrees. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists may work with individuals and/or families to address various emotional and mental disorders, conflicts and other relationship issues. Their goal is to help the client identify, treat and manage their problems in order to live a healthy life. Rehabilitation counselors specialize in helping clients manage physical, emotional, mental and other kinds of disabilities. They try to enable their clients to live independently.

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