The minimum requirement to become a guidance counselor is to have a bachelor’s degree. Many guidance counselors have a bachelor’s degree in counseling, psychology or education.
While not every state requires counselors to have a master’s degree, the vast majority of guidance counselors have earned their master’s in school counseling. Students who have not yet earned their bachelor’s degree may want to look for programs designed specifically for future guidance counselors. Accelerated programs may be offered, saving time and money.
You’ll likely gain some or all of the experience you need as a guidance counselor while earning your master’s degree. Because states have different requirements, you may be required to gain additional experience as a counselor. Expect to spend about 300 hours on the clock, or have experience teaching in a professional setting. Check here to learn each state’s specific requirements.
To become certified in your state, you’ll have to meet the minimum requirements and pass any required exams. Also, you’ll have to apply for your counselor’s license which is legally required to work as a guidance counselor. After that, you’re ready to find a position as a guidance counselor.
While the majority of guidance counselors work in schools, not all do. Some guidance counselors are employed by public or private education services, and others are self-employed.
Yes, so are other education professionals. There are continuing education options available online, saving you the trouble of having to travel.
It depends on the school, county and state you work in. When applying to work in schools, be sure to find out what their expectations are.
Yes. Some states even require that guidance counselors have 1-2 years of professional teaching experience before they can become certified.
Yes. School counselors provide short-term assistance with particular issues that may be getting in the way of a child’s education. Therapists treat mental health issues on a regularly scheduled basis. If a child is having problems in school or has questions about their educational path, a guidance counselor can help. If an issue is more serious or involves mental health, a therapist might be more appropriate.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for guidance counselors in 2017 was $55,410. Employment for guidance counselors is expected to grow faster than most positions. Total enrollment in schools is expected to increase, so the demand for guidance counselors should increase as well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that approximately 36,700 more guidance counselor jobs will be created between 2016 and 2026.
Salaries can increase depending on state and level. For example, elementary and secondary school guidance counselors made a median salary of $62,990. Also, the more experience you have as a guidance counselor, the more you can earn each year. Guidance counselors with a lot of experience earned 30% more than new guidance counselors, according to Payscale.
There are many things students should consider when looking for a guidance counselor program. Students should always make sure their program is accredited, as well as consider cost, delivery method, and program length. Also, programs in specific states may offer the prerequisites required to get certified, but might not satisfy requirements in another state. Search tools like the one below can help students narrow down their options and find a program that meets their needs.
Guidance and school counselors never stop learning, and they need to continue their education regularly to retain certification. To keep up with any changes in requirements, many guidance counselors join organizations or groups to network, learn new skills and specialize. Here are some of the top groups for guidance counselors:
The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) is a network of guidance counselors at all academic levels. With over 33,000 members, it is an excellent resource to network and connect with other professionals.
The world’s largest organization for counselors, the ACA appeals to all counselors, including guidance counselors.
With over 3 million members, the NEA is by far the largest organization for educators at all levels. This is an excellent organization for networking and meeting other education professionals.
Guidance counselors who plan on working at the elementary level will be interested in the Association of Child and Adolescent Counseling (ACAC). They provide professional development and education for child counselors.
Any school counselors that are considering an international career will want to look at the ISCA. They provide any resources you would need to begin a career in an international school.
Guidance counselors at the secondary education level would find the NACAC useful. The NACAC is designed for counselors who help students find the right options for postsecondary education.
Current and future guidance counselors have plenty of professional organizations and networks to access. Here are some of the top resources for guidance counselors:
Elementary School Counseling is an organization that has a variety of tools for elementary school counselors. This is a great place to find ideas on counseling groups and entire classrooms.
An open marketplace for all educators, Teachers Pay Teachers connects educators across the nation. Tools and resources found here are created by other guidance counselors, and many of them are free.
Looking for new ways to engage with students? School Counselor Resources has a collection of tools that can help with any situation.
SCOPE was created to introduce guidance counselors to new technology. The site is free, and it’s an excellent way to keep up-to-date with tech trends.
A government organization dedicated specifically to preventing all forms of bullying, Stop Bullying has resources and training that can help guidance counselors.