A school counselor makes a difference in the lives of students, helping them succeed not only academically but socially and psychologically as well. You’ll actually have the power to influence them not to bully others or engage in drug abuse. You’ll even be able to save a student’s life if you are able catch cases of abuse or parental neglect.
Although listening skills are a must in this profession in order for you to understand your students, having empathy and compassion are also equally important. Without these traits, you won’t be able to address the students’ problems effectively.
Why Become A School Counselor
The ability to touch and make a difference in student’s lives is often the motivation behind pursuing a career as a school counselor. Helping a student hurdle a problem she is facing—whether it is occurring in her academic life or her personal life—provides a sense of fulfillment to the school counselor. The pay is decent and since school counselors work with the same school until they retire, it is one of the more stable careers out there.
School Counselor Work Environment
School counselors work in elementary and secondary schools and junior colleges, colleges and universities. To facilitate confidentiality in their discussions with their clients, they often have their own private office in the institution they work in. They often follow regular office hours. In some schools, counselors are given the entire summers off when there are no classes.
School Counselor Salary
School, guidance, vocational and educational counselors are paid a mean annual wage of $56,160 or a median wage of $25.77 per hour in May 2013 according to data from the Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2012, the agency said that school counselors working in state, local and private elementary and secondary schools were the highest paid, receiving $60,560. Meanwhile, those in state, local and private junior colleges, colleges, universities and professional schools received $46,630.
From 2012 to 2022, hiring of school and career counselors is expected to increase 12 percent which is as fast as the average for all kinds of jobs. Although the increasing number of students enrolling in elementary, middle and high schools will prompt the need for more school counselors, employment may be hampered because state and local government education funding could be limited. Budget deficits may also slow down hiring of school counselors.
School Counselor Degree
School counselors typically hold a master’s degree in school counseling or related program. Before they can be issued a license, they must combine that with a practicum done under the supervision of a licensed professional school counselor. In some states, classroom teaching experience or a teaching license may also necessary before a license is issued. The American School Counselor Association provides information on the specific requirements for certification from each state.