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School Counselor Jobs and Employment Opportunities

Job Descriptions February 14, 2013

Regardless of their age, students seek help from school counselors. Responsibilities of counselors vary depending on the employer; however, most offer career advice, academic evaluations and therapy sessions. Aspiring school counselors are required to satisfy licensure and education requirements.

Job Information for School Counselor

Students in both elementary and high schools are helped by school counselors in coping with personal problems (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). These professionals can provide such assistance by developing programs for students or referring them to psychiatrists and social workers, among other professionals. Counselors also involve themselves in interaction with school administrators and parents. These professionals need exceptional observational and listening skills in identifying critical issues such as domestic violence and substance abuse. The tasks of a counselor can vary in accordance with the age of students. For instance, a counselor employed with an elementary or middle school is unlikely to help students with career or college planning, something that would be defined in the duties of a high school counselor.

Educational Requirements

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that many states require a graduate degree for school counselor licensure. Before they seek admission to a graduate degree program, counselors may complete an undergraduate degree program in psychology or related focus area. Coursework in counseling graduate programs offered at schools includes student assessment, statistics, research methods, and lifespan development. There are also programs with a specific focus on either adolescents or young children. A significant component of this coursework includes an internship or practicum where students can gain hands on experience in clinical settings. During such clinical experience that is supervised by practicing school counselors, students become adept in developing consultative skills and counseling programs. Hours of clinical experience could vary according to the state as schools tailor their programs to satisfy state licensure requirements.

Licensing Information

Along with education, most states have mandatory background checks and experience requirements for school counselor licensure. Certifying examinations in either counseling or teaching are also common. Several states require school counselors to possess a teaching certificate and have experience as a teacher according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, several states practice reciprocity with licenses; to receive more information, applicants should consult with their state boards.

Career Outlook

Job growth of fourteen percent has been projected for school counselors during the period from 2008 to 2018 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). While job growth in public schools and government could be hindered by financial constraints, nonprofit organizations could become popular employers of counselors.

Salary Information

In May 2010, school counselors earned an average annual salary of $53,380 (www.bls.gov). Those in certain major cities or experienced counselors will earn significantly higher wages. Some school counselors may earn more by advancing on to supervisors or directors level positions. By working during the summer, some school counselors may earn extra income according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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