School Counselors work with students, professionals, parents, and administrators to help ensure that students' educational, vocational, and emotional needs are being met. School counselors provide crisis intervention services and individual and group counseling to help all students develop their educational, social, career, and personal strengths and become responsible and productive citizens.
Nature of Work
School counselors are perceived as problem solvers. A more accurate description is to describe them as professionally trained educators who help students, parents, and professionals solve problems.
School counselors are trained to confer with all enrollees, regardless of each student's abilities or disabilities. They also work closely with principals, professionals, health professionals, and parents
School counselors are required in all states to have a master's degree or equivalent in counseling, educational psychology, or counseling psychology. Specialized courses in management evaluation of a guidance program is also required. All states require school counselors to be licensed by the state (requirements vary), but national certification is voluntary. To be nationally certified by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC), a counselor must have a master's degree in counseling from an accredited institution, have a minimum of two years of supervised professional counseling experience, and have passed the NBCC exam.
School counselors have strong desires to help students with educational, emotional, and vocational needs. They are patient, resourceful, and inspire respect, trust, and confidence. School counselors possess leadership skills, excellent listening skills, and are able to work both independently and as part of a team. These professionals follow a code of ethics in their jobs. They are trained to put into perspective the wide range of minor and major problems that they encounter in their caseloads.
Job Outlook and Advancement
Employment of all counselors is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2005. Advancement opportunities are available in larger schools and school systems as directors or supervisors. Some school psychologists and special education administrators began their careers as counselors.
How to Prepare for a Career
Aspiring school counselors should take high school classes in English, psychology, biology, and communications. In school, volunteer to be a peer helper to a counselor, tutor a student or be on the student peer mediation team. Work in a recreation program with special needs students, day camp, Special Olympics or other children's activities.
American Counseling Association
5999 Stevenson Avenue
Alexandria, Virginia 22304-3300
American School Counseling Association
801 North Fairfax Street, Suite 310
Alexandria, VA 22314