Being a School Guidance Counselor: Information and Statistics

November 29th, 2006 by admin

Being a Guidance Counselor- Also known as school counselors, elementary- through college-level guidance counselors work with students to promote and support their academic, personal and social development. Guidance counselors help students at all stages of their educations to assess their abilities, interests, and personalities in order to develop healthy academic goals and emotional development.
Although being a guidance counselor is extremely rewarding, it can potentially become emotionally taxing. For that reason, potential counselors should have high emotional energy to handle the problems and stresses they may come across. An effective school counselor should want to help others and be able to inspire respect, trust, and confidence. Additionally, guidance counselors must follow a stringent code of ethics and privacy in accordance to their licenses and certifications.

Responsibilities and Duties- School guidance counselors emphasize preventive and developmental counseling to provide students with life skills and enhance students personal, social, and academic growth. They use dialogue, therapy sessions, tests and other methods to help students individually, in small groups, or in entire classes. They often conduct special services like alcohol and drug prevention classes, teen pregnancy seminars or domestic abuse investigations. School counselors can build special relationships with students who have academic and social development problems or other special needs.
In addition to working with students, school counselors work closely with parents, teachers, school administrators, school psychologists, medical professionals, and social workers in order to develop and implement comprehensive strategies that can help students be successful in the education system.

Work Conditions and Environment- Because privacy is vital to confidential discussions with students, school counselors usually have private offices. Some school counselors work only during the traditional school year with a few-month summer vacation. Increasing numbers, however, are employed on full-year contracts, especially those working in high schools and secondary schools. Guidance counselors usually work the same hours as teachers, but their jobs often involve more traveling, in order to attend special conferences and conventions.

Career Opportunities- Elementary school counselors interact with children during classroom and play activities and talk with their teachers and parents to evaluate the children’s strengths, troubles, or special needs. They help to make sure that the children’s curriculum addresses both academic and emotional development needs. Elementary school counselors do more social and developmental and less academic counseling than counselors in higher-level institutions do.
Along with the developmental and emotional counseling practiced at all stages, high school guidance counselors focus on college planning and decisions regarding the student’s next step. They help direct students in areas like college options, choosing a major, admission requirements, standardized tests, financial aid and internships. They help students develop job search skills, such as resume writing and interviewing techniques.

College and other secondary school counselors focus on helping students make a smooth transition into the working world. By advising students on which courses they need to graduate, helping with resumes and career searches or referring students to specialists, counselors at this stage are a valuable asset in faring well academically. However, especially at larger schools, college students are less likely to confide in counselors with personal problems unrelated to their education.

Industry Growth Expectations- According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, 248,000 school guidance counselors were employed in 2004. They expect employment in this field to grow faster than average over the next decade.

As student enrollment increases at all school levels, particularly postsecondary schools and colleges, employment for school counselors is expected to increase as well. Additionally, more states are requiring all schools to utilize a counselor. Because of this, job prospects should be greater in rural and inner-city schools, where counselors hadn’t previously been employed.
School counselors can advance their careers in many different ways. For example, they could be promoted to a larger school, become a counseling director or supervisor, become a counselor educator, counseling psychologist, or school administrator. An advanced degree can help a school guidance counselor with career promotion. See below for more education information.

Salary Range- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cites the median annual earnings of school counselors as $53,380 in May 2010. A breakdown within the industry lists average salaries for:
Counselors in elementary and secondary schools: $62,310
Counselors in Junior Colleges: $ 56,160
Counselors in Colleges and Universities: $48,770

Education Requirements- Once someone decides to become a school guidance counselor, it is important to determine what the requirements are locally, because training and certification varies depending on location. Some states, for example, require public school counselors to have both counseling and teaching certificates and to have had some teaching experience before becoming a guidance counselor. Good resources for prospective counselors to check include state and local governments, public and private schools, and national certification organizations. Any of these should be able to provide information on which requirements apply.
Some requirements, however, are nationwide. All states require school counselors to hold a state school counseling certification and to have completed at least some graduate course work. Being a school guidance counselor typically requires completion of a master’s degree, but a bachelor’s degree can qualify a person to be a counseling aide. Colleges and universities usually offer counselor education programs within the departments of education or psychology.

Good luck in pursuit of this rewarding career!

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6 Comments »

6 Responses to “Being a School Guidance Counselor: Information and Statistics”

  1. Candis Says:

    I am currently attending a school guidance program. I will be graduating in January. I am looking for a list of internet sites that have interview questions that graduates could expect to encounter during an interview. Would you please help me, I’m having no luck……Thanks, Candis

    emal – candisone@bellsouth.net

  2. Tina Says:

    Hello…don’t know of any websites with these questions…but I do know the process since I am a school counselor and have had 3 positions at various types of schools (special ed. focus, large public middle school, and private high school). The interviewing process is basically the same. A panel of people will be there – typically a teacher, administrator (sometimes BOTH princiapl & vice), a parent perhaps, and the other counseor(s). They will probably ask:

    1. Background and personal philosophy
    2. Are you a team player or like to work alone? (stress that team-playing is great – BUT you are capable of making decisions on your own. Counselors have to make decisions based on their own instincts & you may not be able to consult with someone (like in a crisis situation).
    3. They will, no doubt, ask about how you would handle a typical school crisis – usually about a student who may be suicidal. Be prepared to follow the appropriate steps.
    4. You may be asked about how you will make yourself known at your new position. Stress that you want to be involved, volunteer for dances to get to know kids, walk around during lunchtime, whatever.
    5. Parent contact – IMPORTANT. STress that appointments are a good idea, but that you have an open-door approach ESPECIALLY for parents in a crisis.
    6. Public schools are Standards-based. Look up the Standards for Counselors (they exist). Print them up and highlight some important points that you could throw in to impress. This will score you points big time.
    7. Be sure to have questions for them. Remember – YOU ARE INTERVIEWING THEM AS WELL!! Bring questions written down and ready. This is always impressive.
    Hope this helps…

  3. kara Says:

    well i had some questions about becoming i guidance counselor because i am really looking forward to becoming one

  4. Darcy Says:

    I have been volunteering for the High Schools ASPIRE program for the last two years and I find it very rewarding. All of my students (15) have applied for and been accepted into the college of their choice. I help them with scholarships, essays etc. I would love to become a guidance counselor, is there any accredited on-line colleges that you would recommend? Do you think that the school board would acknowledge an on-line degree? Thank you for your help. Darcy

  5. Renee Says:

    Hello!!! I was doing some research about how to become a guidance counselor and I found this site, which has some wonderful and helpful information. I would like to know if there was a website that provided information about the actual job outlook for elementary school guidance counselors and what locations are in need of guidance counselors. (Other than http://www.bls.gov) Thanks! :)

  6. Eric Says:

    Hello! This site is very helpful and it is great to see other aspiring individuals who enjoy helping kids. What are some tips or advice you can provide for internship opportunities?

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