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Become A Counseling Specialist

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Working As A Counseling Specialist

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Getting Information
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • $50,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Counseling Specialist Do

School counselors help students develop academic and social skills and succeed in school. Career counselors assist people with the process of making career decisions by helping them develop skills or choose a career or educational program.

Duties

School counselors typically do the following:

  • Evaluate students’ abilities and interests through aptitude assessments, interviews, and individual planning
  • Identify issues that impact school performance, such as poor classroom attendance rates
  • Help students understand and overcome social or behavioral problems through classroom guidance lessons and counseling
  • Counsel individuals and small groups on the basis of student and school needs
  • Work with students to develop skills, such as organizational and time management abilities and effective study habits
  • Help students create a plan to achieve academic and career goals
  • Collaborate with teachers, administrators, and parents to help students succeed
  • Teach students and school staff about certain topics, such as bullying, drug abuse, and planning for college or careers after graduation
  • Report possible cases of neglect or abuse and refer students and parents to resources outside the school for additional support

The specific duties of school counselors vary with the ages of their students.

Elementary school counselors focus on helping students develop certain skills, such as those used in decisionmaking and studying, that they need in order to be successful in their social and academic lives. They meet with parents or guardians to discuss their child’s strengths and weaknesses, and any possible special needs and behavioral issues. School counselors also work with teachers and administrators to ensure that the curriculum addresses both the developmental and academic needs of students.

Middle school counselors work with school staff, parents and the community to create a caring, supportive climate and atmosphere for students to achieve academic success. They help the students develop the skills and strategies necessary to succeed academically and socially.

High school counselors advise students in making academic and career plans. Many help students overcome personal issues that interfere with their academic development. They help students choose classes and plan for their lives after graduation. Counselors provide information about choosing and applying for colleges, training programs, financial aid, and internships and apprenticeships. They may present career workshops to help students search and apply for jobs, write résumés, and improve their interviewing skills.

Career counselors typically do the following:

  • Use aptitude and achievement assessments to help clients evaluate their interests, skills, and abilities
  • Evaluate clients’ background, education, and training, to help them develop realistic goals
  • Guide clients through making decisions about their careers, such as choosing a new profession and the type of degree to pursue
  • Help clients learn job search skills, such as interviewing and networking
  • Assist clients in locating and applying for jobs, by teaching them strategies to find openings and how to write a résumé
  • Advise clients on how to resolve problems in the workplace, such as conflicts with bosses or coworkers
  • Help clients select and apply for educational programs, to obtain the necessary degrees, credentials, and skills

Career counselors work with clients at various stages of their careers. Some work in colleges. They may help students choose a major or help students determine what jobs they are qualified for with their degrees.

Career counselors also work with people who have already entered the workforce. These counselors develop plans to improve their client’s current career. They also provide advice about entering a new profession.

Some career counselors work in outplacement firms and assist laid-off workers with transitioning into new jobs or careers. Others work in corporate career centers to assist employees in making decisions about their career path within the company.

Career counselors who work in private practice must spend time marketing their practice to prospective clients and working with clients to receive payments for their services.

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How To Become A Counseling Specialist

Most school counselors must have a master’s degree in school counseling or a related field and have a state-issued credential. Some employers prefer that career counselors have a master’s degree. Career counselors who work in private practices may also need a license.

Education

Most states require school counselors to have a master’s degree in school counseling or a related field. Programs in school counseling teach students about fostering academic development; conducting group and individual counseling; working with parents, school staff, and community organizations; and using data to develop, implement, and evaluate comprehensive school counseling programs for all students. These programs often require students to gain experience through an internship or practicum.

Some employers prefer that career counselors have a master’s degree in counseling with a focus on career development. Career counseling programs prepare students to assess clients’ skills and interests and to teach career development techniques. Many programs require students to have a period of supervised experience, such as an internship.  

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Public school counselors must have a state-issued credential to practice. This credential can be called a certification, a license, or an endorsement, depending on the state. Licensure or certification typically requires a master’s degree in school counseling and an internship or practicum completed under the supervision of a licensed professional school counselor.

Some states require applicants to have 1 to 2 years of classroom teaching experience, or to hold a teaching license, prior to being certified. Most states require a criminal background check as part of the credentialing process. Information about requirements for each state is available from the American School Counselor Association.

Although some employers prefer to hire licensed career counselors, licensure is not required by all states. Contact information for state regulating boards is available from the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Although most states do not require work experience in a related occupation, some states require school counselors to have 1 to 2 years of classroom teaching experience, or to hold a teaching license, prior to being certified. Please see the Similar Occupations tab for more information on teaching occupations.

Important Qualities

Compassion. School and career counselors often work with people who are dealing with stressful and difficult situations, so they must be compassionate and empathize with their clients and students.

Interpersonal skills. School and career counselors must be able to work with different types of people. They spend most of their time working directly with clients, students, or other professionals and need to form and maintain good working relationships.

Listening skills. Good listening skills are essential for school and career counselors. They need to give their full attention to students and clients in order to understand their problems.

Speaking skills. School and career counselors must communicate effectively with clients and students. They should express ideas and information in a way that their clients and students understand easily.

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Average Length of Employment
Case Specialist 2.7 years
Family Specialist 2.4 years
Living Specialist 2.4 years
Youth Specialist 2.1 years
Counselor 2.0 years
Intake Specialist 1.9 years
Top Careers Before Counseling Specialist
Internship 13.2%
Counselor 10.1%
Cashier 7.1%
Volunteer 5.1%
Specialist 3.4%
Teacher 3.0%
Assistant 2.3%
Top Careers After Counseling Specialist
Internship 9.3%
Counselor 7.6%
Therapist 6.3%
Specialist 5.8%
Volunteer 5.0%
Supervisor 3.5%
Teacher 3.5%
Director 3.3%
Cashier 3.3%
Tutor 3.0%
Instructor 3.0%

Do you work as a Counseling Specialist?

Average Yearly Salary
$50,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$28,000
Min 10%
$50,000
Median 50%
$50,000
Median 50%
$50,000
Median 50%
$50,000
Median 50%
$50,000
Median 50%
$50,000
Median 50%
$50,000
Median 50%
$89,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
SCO Family of Services
Highest Paying City
Huntsville, TX
Highest Paying State
California
Avg Experience Level
2.1 years
How much does a Counseling Specialist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Counseling Specialist in the United States is $50,515 per year or $24 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $28,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $89,000.

Real Counseling Specialist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Field-Based Counseling Specialist International Planned Parenthood Federation/WHR New York, NY Jun 15, 2015 $72,000
Field-Based Counseling Specialist International Planned Parenthood Federation/WHR New York, NY Jun 15, 2012 $72,000
Play Therapy Counselor/Specialist Bloomindale Family Program, Inc. New York, NY Oct 01, 2011 $58,269
Play Therapy Counselor/Specialist Bloomingdale Family Program, Inc. New York, NY Oct 01, 2011 $58,269
Religious Counseling Specialist Evangelical Layman's Church NY Oct 01, 2014 $48,000
Religious Counseling Specialist Evangelical Layman's Church Bedford Hills, NY Oct 01, 2014 $48,000
Religious Counseling Specialist Evangelical Layman's Church NY Oct 01, 2011 $48,000
Counseling Specialist/Home School Program Merrimack Special Education Collaborative Chelmsford, MA Sep 24, 2012 $47,447
Integrative Health Counseling Specialist Anne Waugh Spring Hill, TN Feb 12, 2013 $41,740
Integrative Health Counseling Specialist Anne Waugh Spring Hill, TN Feb 16, 2013 $41,740
Integrative Health Counseling Specialist Anne Waugh Franklin, TN Mar 12, 2012 $41,101
Integrative Health Counseling Specialist Mercy Mountain Wellness Franklin, TN Mar 12, 2012 $41,101

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Top Skills for A Counseling Specialist

  1. Medicaid
  2. Community Resources
  3. Health Plan Choices
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Interviewed applicants to determine their eligibility for Families First, food stamps, Medicaid/TennCare or Medicaid Disability.
  • Make immediate referrals to community resources.
  • Lead weekly family and individual counseling sessions based on individualized treatment plans, including pro-active goal setting and problem solving.
  • Earned several awards & commendations from both supervisors and customers for outstanding customer service.
  • Deliver effective and proven therapeutic crisis intervention and prevention, adhering to agency protocols and leveraging best practices in counseling.

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Top 10 Best States for Counseling Specialists

  1. Delaware
  2. Kentucky
  3. Massachusetts
  4. Alaska
  5. New Jersey
  6. Pennsylvania
  7. Texas
  8. Connecticut
  9. District of Columbia
  10. Virginia
  • (38 jobs)
  • (130 jobs)
  • (300 jobs)
  • (22 jobs)
  • (235 jobs)
  • (350 jobs)
  • (627 jobs)
  • (85 jobs)
  • (83 jobs)
  • (361 jobs)

Counseling Specialist Demographics

Gender

Female

54.5%

Male

30.7%

Unknown

14.7%
Ethnicity

White

61.0%

Hispanic or Latino

17.4%

Black or African American

12.0%

Asian

6.8%

Unknown

2.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

62.2%

French

9.5%

Hindi

4.1%

Chinese

2.7%

German

2.7%

Russian

2.7%

Mandarin

2.7%

Urdu

2.7%

Filipino

1.4%

Yoruba

1.4%

Cantonese

1.4%

Japanese

1.4%

Wolof

1.4%

Tagalog

1.4%

Italian

1.4%

Bengali

1.4%
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Counseling Specialist Education

Schools

Florida State University

20.9%

Tallahassee Community College

11.4%

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

7.6%

University of Phoenix

7.1%

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

5.7%

Virginia Commonwealth University

4.7%

Temple University

4.7%

Michigan State University

3.8%

Walden University

3.8%

University of Florida

3.8%

Kaplan University

3.8%

Montclair State University

3.3%

University of Kentucky

2.8%

Grand Canyon University

2.8%

University of Maryland - College Park

2.4%

Duquesne University

2.4%

State University of New York Buffalo

2.4%

Point Park University

2.4%

Liberty University

2.4%

Wayne State University

1.9%
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Majors

Business

14.2%

Psychology

11.7%

Social Work

11.5%

Criminal Justice

10.0%

School Counseling

7.3%

Counseling Psychology

5.1%

Communication

4.4%

Mental Health Counseling

4.2%

Education

3.3%

Biology

2.9%

Management

2.7%

Elementary Education

2.7%

English

2.7%

Liberal Arts

2.7%

Sociology

2.6%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.6%

Health Care Administration

2.4%

Clinical Psychology

2.4%

Human Services

2.4%

Nursing

2.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

39.9%

Masters

29.3%

Other

16.8%

Associate

8.0%

Certificate

2.9%

Doctorate

2.8%

Diploma

0.3%
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