The Ultimate Guide to a School Counseling Career

School counselors work with students and their families from the time they enter kindergarten to the moment they graduate. Some colleges even employ school counselors. Not every student will work with a counselor, but those who do can go to these professionals for help in areas such as bullying, career decisions, social development, time management, and more.

School Counselor Educational Requirements

The educational and certification requirements you need to work as a school counselor vary from state to state. All require at least a bachelor’s degree in the field, but in many states you must go on to get a masters in counseling to qualify for certification. Regardless of state requirements, some schools have even tougher requirements for applicants, only considering those who have a master’s degree or higher, even if state law does not require it. If you want to work in a leadership position on a counseling team, as a director, you’ll almost certainly need a master’s degree and may need a doctorate to be considered for the job.

Day to Day Tasks as a School Counselor

The tasks you’ll do on a daily basis will depend on the education level where you work. A school counselor who works in an elementary setting may spend more time working with students developing social skills while a school counselor who works in a high school may spend more time helping students make college decisions. All school counselors make themselves available to students who need guidance in any area of life, so your education will include learning how to work one-on-one with troubled students. In smaller schools, a school counselor may also help develop curriculum, plan after-school programs, and provide counseling to teachers and administrators.

Advantages to Becoming a School Counselor

A career as a school counselor, you can expect to make an average of $50,000, with a higher salary if you go back to school for an advanced degree and work a number of years to gain experience in the field. Most schools also offer competitive benefits packages including paid vacation days, retirement plans, and more. The biggest advantage for most people, however, is that this is a job where you actually have the ability to make a difference in the lives of students. This is a career field where you can offer advice to people who are confused about an aspect of life, having a positive effect on the world of the student.

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Top Online Master of School Counseling Degrees

School counselors work in elementary, middle, and high schools to provide academic, college, and personal guidance to students. Previously known as guidance counselors or educational counselors, this profession generally requires a master's degree in education, school counseling, or similar subject. Some states also require licensing or certification. The following schools offer accredited online degree programs in school counseling or closely related subjects.


An MS in K-12 Educational Leadership from Walden will help you gain the skills, knowledge, and experience to lead student, teachers, and parents to academic success. You will have the power to shape the lives of children that will lead the future. In this program you will be prepared with the leadership skills necessary to reach out to children you that you work with and challenge them to become the best that they can. You will come away from this program ready to enhance the learning opportunities for all students.
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The Master of Social Work offered by University of Southern California School of Social Work, the MSW@USC, is offered entirely online. This program features live online classes as well as online study groups and chat sessions. In addition to this, students will have opportunities to gain real-world training through local internships.
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At Grand Canyon University's MA in Christian Studies youth ministry specialization, students learn the art of preaching to a younger audience. This online program helps you obtain a future career in the church leadership. Courses include Youth Issues and Crisis, and Mentoring and Counseling Youth.
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