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Become A Guidance Counselor

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Working As A Guidance Counselor

  • 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

  • $64,030

    Average Salary

What Does A Guidance Counselor 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 Guidance Counselor

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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Guidance Counselor jobs

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Guidance Counselor Demographics

Gender

Female

68.6%

Male

29.5%

Unknown

2.0%
Ethnicity

White

82.1%

Hispanic or Latino

9.3%

Asian

6.4%

Unknown

1.5%

Black or African American

0.7%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

63.4%

French

5.5%

Filipino

4.1%

Russian

2.8%

Italian

2.8%

Chinese

2.8%

Tagalog

2.1%

German

2.1%

Arabic

2.1%

Turkish

1.4%

Hindi

1.4%

Mandarin

1.4%

Vietnamese

1.4%

Czech

1.4%

Japanese

1.4%

Polish

1.4%

Swedish

0.7%

Hmong

0.7%

Somali

0.7%

Korean

0.7%
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Guidance Counselor Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

12.7%

Liberty University

9.4%

Capella University

9.1%

Troy University

5.8%

Webster University

5.3%

Nova Southeastern University

5.3%

New York University

4.8%

Walden University

4.8%

Cambridge College

4.8%

University of Dayton

4.6%

University of Florida

3.8%

West Chester University of Pennsylvania

3.8%

University of West Alabama

3.8%

Grand Canyon University

3.8%

Wilmington University

3.6%

Old Dominion University

3.3%

Wayne State University

2.8%

Michigan State University

2.8%

Boston University

2.8%

Villanova University

2.8%
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Majors

School Counseling

34.6%

Education

10.5%

Counseling Psychology

9.3%

Educational Leadership

8.5%

Psychology

7.4%

Business

5.1%

Social Work

4.9%

Elementary Education

3.3%

Mental Health Counseling

2.5%

Criminal Justice

1.8%

Human Resources Management

1.7%

Human Services

1.4%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.3%

Special Education

1.3%

Sociology

1.2%

Management

1.1%

English

1.1%

Clinical Psychology

1.1%

Rehabilitation Science

1.0%

Human Development

1.0%
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Degrees

Masters

55.3%

Bachelors

15.7%

Other

15.6%

Doctorate

5.7%

Certificate

4.4%

Associate

2.7%

Diploma

0.5%

License

0.1%
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Job type you want
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Real Guidance Counselor Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Guidance Counselor Princeton International School of Mathematics and Princeton, NJ Sep 16, 2013 $68,786
Guidance Counselor Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan New York, NY Dec 31, 2016 $62,610
Guidance Counselor Baltimore City Public Schools Baltimore, MD Aug 25, 2011 $62,217
Guidance Counselor Ecole Internationale de Boston Cambridge, MA Oct 01, 2010 $56,996 -
$66,784
Guidance Counselor San Carlos Unified School District No. 20 San Carlos, AZ Jul 13, 2015 $55,000
Guidance Counselor Mary's Center for Maternal and Child Care Washington, DC Jul 02, 2015 $52,853
Guidance Counselor Bertie County Schools Windsor, NC Aug 20, 2009 $50,112
Guidance Counselor International Education Partners LLC Providence, RI Sep 18, 2014 $50,000
Guidance Counselor California Preparatory College Education Group, In Redlands, CA Apr 01, 2012 $48,000
Guidance Counselor Bertie County Schools Windsor, NC Feb 17, 2011 $45,940
Senior Guidance Counselor Bertie County Schools Windsor, NC Mar 29, 2012 $45,940
Senior Guidance Counselor Olivet University San Francisco, CA Jul 21, 2015 $43,805
International Guidance Counselor The University of Findlay Findlay, OH May 14, 2015 $43,633
Guidance Counselor Edico USA, Inc. Dover, DE Apr 02, 2016 $42,619
International Guidance Counselor The University of Findlay Findlay, OH May 14, 2012 $42,000
Guidance Counselor Berties County Schools Windsor, NC Oct 05, 2010 $42,000
Guidance Counselor Christian Family International Silver Spring, MD Oct 01, 2011 $41,823
Guidance Counselor Olivet University San Francisco, CA May 01, 2016 $41,400
Guidance Counselor; Elementary Hudson School District Hudson, NH Aug 23, 2016 $40,798
Guidance Counselor Olivet University San Francisco, CA Jan 05, 2013 $40,140
Guidance Counselor Olivet University San Francisco, CA Oct 31, 2012 $40,140
Guidance Counselor Astar Education Institute Manassas, VA Oct 01, 2012 $40,000
Guidance Counselor Astar Education Institute Manassas, VA Sep 28, 2012 $40,000
Guidance Counselor; Elementary Hudson School District Hudson, NH Aug 26, 2014 $39,184
Educational Guidance Counselor MSM International Inc. MD Jul 26, 2011 $39,100
Educational Guidance Counselor MSM International Inc. Springfield, VA Aug 20, 2012 $38,500
Educational and Guidance Counselor Advanced California Innovative Institute, Inc. Alhambra, CA Aug 26, 2016 $38,192
Guidance Counselor Yeshiva Ohr Torah Community School, Inc. New York, NY Mar 03, 2014 $36,627

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Top Skills for A Guidance Counselor

CrisisInterventionGuidanceCurriculumSmallGroupIEPChildAbuseSpecialEducationFinancialAidConflictResolutionCounselCareerPlanningSocialSkillsMentalHealthStudentRecordsPsatMasterScheduleAdvisorCommunityResourcesGuidanceProgramCharacterEducationStudySkills

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Top Guidance Counselor Skills

  1. Crisis Intervention
  2. Guidance Curriculum
  3. Small Group
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed and facilitated effective, developmentally and culturally sensitive crisis intervention planning for school community.
  • Promote expansion of diversity of high school faculty, students, and staff through Michigan Guidance Curriculum.
  • Provided guidance activities within the classroom, and small group lessons.
  • Assisted school social workers and teachers with implementation of IEP.
  • Trained faculty on assessment and procedures relating to child abuse, sexual harassment and bullying.

Top Guidance Counselor Employers

Guidance Counselor Videos

Guidance Counselor - Career Conversation

Career Planning : How to Become a Career Guidance Counselor

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