Careers in School Counseling

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What Do School Counselors Do?

In past decades, guidance counselors in pre-K–12 schools focused on preparing students for secondary school, college, and career. Today, these professionals are known as school counselors because their role has expanded to address students’ overall academic, social, and emotional needs.

School counselors work in elementary, middle, and high schools nationwide designing curricula; working one-on-one with students; collaborating with parents, families, and the community; and engaging in ongoing professional development based on the American School Counselor Association’s National Model.

Those who are suited to a school counseling career enjoy spending time with children and adolescents. They are strong leaders and good listeners with an abundance of patience and empathy.

Career Options for School Counselors

School counselors can choose to work in a variety of settings serving students, their families, and their communities. Public, private, and charter schools employ counselors to improve student outcomes.

If you decide to become a school counselor, you have several options for employment, depending on the population you want to serve and the setting in which you’d like to practice. As you progress through your career, your role could change based on your interests and qualifications.

After you’ve been a school counselor for several years, you may decide to specialize in a certain skill, such as college preparation, or a certain population, such as bilingual students.

As a more experienced school counselor, you could pursue leadership positions that enable you to oversee counseling and resources within a school district.

The skills and knowledge you employ as a school counselor will vary based on the age, maturity level, socioeconomic status, and other characteristics of the students you work with.

Here is more information about the role of school counselors within the primary and secondary educational environments.

Support Children as an Elementary School Counselor

From grades pre-K–5, children begin to navigate the academic environment and start to develop their learning styles and identities. As an elementary school counselor, you’ll help young children grow accustomed to the classroom while teaching them core values and life skills, such as establishing peer relationships and managing their time.

Guide Adolescents as a Middle School Counselor

Students in middle schools across the country undergo physical, mental, and emotional changes as they progress through grades six to eight. If you decide to become a middle school counselor, you’ll provide guidance as students develop stronger feelings about who they want to be and what they want to achieve in high school, college, and beyond.

Empower Young Adults as a High School Counselor

High school students in public and private settings are continually preparing for adulthood, whether their next step is college or career placement. If you have an interest in helping young adults through this pivotal time, you can become a high school counselor who helps them make sound decisions both inside and outside the classroom.

School Counseling Career Outlook

The school counseling job outlook is expected to grow in the next decade. Between 2016 and 2026, school counseling employment is projected to grow 13 percent with 36,700 new jobs created.

What Is the Average School Counseling Salary?

School counselors are typically employed full time but do not work during the summer. The school counseling salary you can expect depends on several factors, including your geographic location and your specific role.

In 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median annual wage for school and career counselors was $58,120.

Requirements to Become a School Counselor

Licensure requirements vary by state, but aspiring school counselors are often required to earn a master’s degree in the field. A school counseling master’s program teaches you the essential skills you need to support students at each stage of their academic journey from childhood through young adulthood.

States may also require hands-on training in a school setting. During your school counseling master’s program, you may be required to complete an internship where you’ll work with real students supervised by practicing counselors. After completing the educational and post-educational requirements, you’ll take a comprehensive exam.

Consult your state’s board of education to determine the licensure requirements you’ll need to meet.

Earn Your Master’s Online with Counseling@NYU

We support your goal of changing lives as a school counselor, whether you have a background in education or you want to start a new, rewarding career. Take the next step and earn your master of arts in School Counseling from NYU Steinhardt online.