School counselors provide guidance services to students. They also collaborate with parents, teachers, administrators, psychologists, medical professionals, and social workers to develop strategies to help students succeed. Elementary school counselors do less vocational and academic counseling than high school counselors do. School counselors at all levels help students cope with social, behavioral, and personal problems.
Steps Toward an MEd or MS in School Counseling
To become a school counselor, requirements vary significantly by state. Successful students typically complete the following steps:
- Earn proper undergraduate degree (requirements vary by state). Common undergraduate degrees include Bachelor of Science programs in education, psychology or human services.
- Earn proper graduate degrees (requirements vary by state) from an accredited institution like Capella, Kaplan, Liberty, or Walden University. Typically includes completing a Master of Science degree with a concentration in elementary or high school counseling.
- Obtain proper licensure. Licensure requirements differ greatly by state, occupational specialty, and work setting.
- Consider certification and continuing education options. Some counselors elect to be certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors, which grants a general practice credential of National Certified Counselor. While voluntary and distinct from state licensing, in some states, those who pass the national exam are exempt from taking a state certification exam. The board also offers specialty certifications in school counseling. In some cases, school counselors aim to become counseling directors, counselor educators, counseling psychologists, or school administrators by advancing their education even further.
After completing a degree, one may consider attaining membership with the American School Counselor Association (ASCA). The ASCA aids in professional development, publishes a bimonthly magazine and other publications, offers liability insurance, and more. They also have a handy state-by-state guide that describes each state’s certification requirements.
My Degree and What It’s Worth
A school counselor is typically responsible for the following job duties:
- Evaluate the strengths, problems, or special needs of children and young adults in a school setting.
- Provide personal, educational and vocational counseling.
- Offer case management support and guidance, especially when cases of domestic abuse and other family problems that can affect a student’s development are identified.
- Arrange for medical care, vocational training, job placement and other outside services.
The average annual salary for a guidance counselor will vary depending on what type of institution one works in, location, and experience. To learn more, please visit our salary outlook for counselors.
Online School Counseling Degree Programs
- Bradley University: MA in Professional School Counseling
- Our Lady of the Lake University: MEd in School Counseling
Closely Related Programs
The following degrees are closely related to a master’s degree program in school counseling, often allowing you to pursue a career in this field or others: