How to Become a Guidance Counselor

How to Become a Guidance Counselor

Children of all ages need structure and guidance throughout their education. Licensed professionals are essential to help guide and advise students so they can reach their full potential, intellectually and socially. This is the role of guidance counselors.

What does a guidance counselor do?

Guidance counselors (also called school counselors) work with students in elementary, middle, and secondary schools. They help guide the educational, personal, and social development of children and act as an advocate for the child’s best interests. They help students see their own abilities and talents, and guide their interests in order to set realistic academic and personal goals.

Guidance counselors work to improve students’ academic, personal, and social growth by helping students understand and cope with personal, social and behavioral issues. They provide preventative and developmental counseling to help students develop the life skills required to deal with problems before they escalate. They conduct counseling sessions, interviews, interest and aptitude assessment tests and apply other techniques to evaluate children and advise their parents on results and next steps.

Elementary and middle school guidance counselors observe children in the classroom and talk with their teachers and parents to assess strengths, weaknesses, or areas that require special attention. High school guidance counselors offer advice to students about entering colleges and help students develop professional skills such as interview techniques and writing a resume.

What kind of training does a guidance counselor need?

A formal education for guidance counselors is required, usually a master degree in education or psychology. However, a bachelor degree partnered with sufficient experience is acceptable for some positions. Click the link to see a list of degrees for guidance counselors.

Most states require a school counselor license, and the requirements vary by each state. Many states require guidance counselors to obtain a state guidance counseling certification and complete post-graduate courses. A certain number of continuing education credits are usually required to maintain licensure. Voluntary certification from the National Board for Certified Counselors, is a plus.

What are the prospects for a a guidance counselor career?

Guidance counselor jobs are projected to grow about as fast as average for all professions through 2016, increasing 13%, from 260,000 jobs in 2006 to more than 293,000. (1)

Prospects for jobs for guidance counselors are expected to be good due to many people leaving the profession to retire. Job opportunities may be more favorable in urban and rural areas.

How much do guidance counselors make?

As of April 2009, the middle 50% of guidance counselor salaries varied between $37,690 and $63,470, with the highest 10% earning more than $79,150. (2)

People who have a strong desire to help students and can inspire confidence, respect, and trust would benefit from learning how to become a guidance counselor. They must have a high-level pf physical and emotional energy to handle a broad range of issues including stressful situations. School guidance counselors must be able to work independently and as a member of a team, and follow the code of ethics of the school.

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