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School Counselor Job Description, Career as a School Counselor, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training College plus training

Salary Median—$45,570 per year

Employment Outlook Very good

Definition and Nature of the Work

School counselors help students make decisions that affect their personal and academic development. Sometimes they provide drug- and alcohol-abuse rehabilitation or conflict-resolution sessions.

Often called guidance counselors, they can be found in both public and private schools, working with classroom teachers, school psychologists, school nurses, parents, and community groups. They meet with students individually or in group sessions.

Counselors who work in junior and senior high schools help students choose courses that will affect their later careers. Those who plan to learn trades, for instance, may need technical classes. If students wish to attend college, counselors advise them on both their academic and extracurricular activities. They also provide students with scholarship information, training manuals, and college catalogs.

Counselors in elementary schools work mainly with students who disrupt classrooms or have physical handicaps. They also counsel students who get into trouble in the community.

Education and Training Requirements

All states require school counselors to be certified, but certification standards vary widely and change frequently. Some states also require teaching certification.

Both public and private schools employ counselors to help students make personal and academic decisions and to work with students who are experiencing family and personal problems. (AP Images.)

Bachelor's degrees in psychology, education, or the liberal arts are required. Many counselors participate in college-level programs in education or psychology, studying group dynamics, human growth and development, testing, counseling, and statistics.

Getting the Job

Job seekers can apply directly to superintendents of school districts. College placement offices, professional associations and journals, private employment agencies, newspaper classified ads, and job banks on the Internet may offer employment leads. In some areas counselors are assigned to schools when they are certified.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

School counselors are at the top of their profession. Some specialize in certain areas of guidance, such as vocational counseling. Others become supervisors or school administrators.

Employment of school counselors is expected to grow faster than the average for all jobs through 2014 because of increasing school enrollments and legislation requiring counselors in elementary schools. The increase in crisis-prevention counseling may also spur employment. However, jobs may be limited in some areas because of funding.

Working Conditions

Full-time school counselors work longer hours than teachers because they often meet with students and parents before and after school. Some counselors work part time or combine counseling with teaching duties. Generally, counselors have their own offices so they can conduct their interviews in private. Counselors must be able to relate well to all kinds of people. Patience, resourcefulness, and stability are important qualities for the job.

Where to Go for More Information

American School Counselor Association
1101 King St., Ste. 625
Alexandria, VA 22314
(800) 306-4722

American School Health Association
7263 State Rt. 43
Kent, OH 44240
(330) 678-1601

Earnings and Benefits

In 2004 the median salary for school counselors was $45,570 per year, with experienced counselors earning more than $72,390 per year. The median salary for elementary and secondary school counselors was $51,160 per year. Benefits include paid holidays and vacations, sick leave, health insurance, and retirement plans.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesEducation & Training