Student Guidance and Counseling

If you're interested in providing students with the support and resources they need to get a good education, you may consider a career in school counseling. To learn more about degree and licensing requirements for guidance and school counselors, read on.

Is Student Guidance and Counseling for Me?

Career Overview

Formal education and training in guidance or school counseling can lead to a position in an elementary or a high school. As an elementary school counselor, you may conduct group sessions to find out how the kids are feeling about school and each other. You may also observe the students during work and play, and talk with parents and teachers about events that took place during your observation, such as special needs or social problems happening in the classroom.

In your position as a high school counselor, you'll help students transition into college or the workforce. As the emotional and mental issues faced by high school students are different from those of younger children, you may find yourself helping students who are dealing with substance abuse, eating disorders or domestic violence. You might also help them with issues related to romantic relationships, self esteem and depression.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of openings for school counselors was expected to increase by 12% nationwide between 2012 and 2022. In May 2013, the median annual salary for a school counselor was $53,600 as reported by the BLS (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work In Student Guidance and Counseling?

Education and Licensing Requirements

Although educational and licensing requirements for school counselors vary by state, completion of a master's degree program in school counseling and a state-issued certification or license is usually required to obtain a position in a public school. Additional requirements typically include a supervised internship in an actual school setting. Individual states may also require a teaching license or prior experience in the classroom. Undergraduate preparation may include a bachelor's degree in education.

Master's Programs

In a Master of Arts in School Counseling program, you may study the social and cultural foundations of behavior, intelligence testing and psychological assessments. You'll also pursue topics and readings in counseling theory and school psychology; coursework in career counseling may also be part of the curriculum. A master's degree program usually culminates in a written thesis. It can also help you prepare for admission to a doctoral program in educational counseling.

Required Skills

An ability to gain the trust of students, compassion and a desire to help even the most difficult child are essential to working as a school counselor. You should also be able to function well in stressful school situations and have good interpersonal, listening and speaking skills.

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