Professional School Counselor

School counselors are educators who have at least a master’s in school counseling. These compassionate professionals act as advocates for students. They are trained in child and adolescent psychological and work with students to ensure that they succeed in school. School counselors are professionals who can design, implement and evaluate school counseling programs that support student success.

School counselors can be found in many academic settings, including elementary and secondary schools. Counselors assist students with a range of topics, including violence prevention and behavioral issues. They also help them prepare for college and careers.

Here’s a quick look at professional school counselors

School counselors can work at all levels of education, including elementary, middle and high school. They also have the ability to help students in college at private and public schools.

School counselors can be a valuable resource for education. Counselors provide support beyond the classroom, ensuring that students are able to make good choices and are able to help with their social and mental health. They advocate for the whole child and connect school curriculum with real-life career opportunities.

Counselors generally work full-time according to the school’s operating schedule. They may work a 10- or 11-month schedule depending on their position and district. The school principal usually reports to a counselor.

Job description for school counselor

Most school counselors meet with students one-on-one. They may also hold workshops or small group sessions, and sometimes even speak in school assemblies.

These are some of the most common duties:

  • Comprehensive school counseling programs are designed to improve student outcomes. They focus on three areas: academic, career and personal/social.
  • Notifying authorities about possible cases of abuse or neglect and referring to outside resources for support
  • Use organizational assessments and tools for assessing the school’s counseling requirements
  • Use individual assessment tools to assess students’ talents, interests, and personality traits
  • In partnership with other educators, deliver school counseling curriculum in classrooms and groups
  • Students and staff can be taught about bullying, drug abuse, college planning, and other topics.
  • Individual and small group counseling for students with educational and behavioral issues.
  • Crisis intervention
  • Evaluation and reporting on the effectiveness of school counseling programs
  • Maintaining and coordinating school records

What makes a great school counselor?

Someone who is:

  • Analytical
  • Compassionate
  • Good listener
  • Interpersonal
  • A clear communicator
  • Perceptive
  • Be flexible and ready to tackle any situation
  • Ability to work with any type of personality
  • Work with young people to get energized
  • Stable and capable of handling stress

In-depth school counselor training

The school counselors of today are leaders in creating supportive learning environments. They also play an integral part in the school’s educational program.

No matter what level of education, there are many things that remain constant in the counseling profession. But, there are some counseling tasks that can be very different depending on the student population.

Counselor for elementary schools

Elementary school counselors can be described as professional educators who have mental health training and work with children from kindergarten to grade 5. To effectively address the challenges of a diverse student population, they work closely with parents, teachers, school administrators, and parents.

This level of counselor has many responsibilities. They deal with home and school concerns as well as the physical and mental development of students. The school counselor curriculum can include topics such as goal-setting, behavior management and problem-solving.

This involves working with students in small groups and individually, as well as communicating with parents to address concerns.

Middle school counselor

Students in middle school work with counselors from grades 6-8 to help them develop the strategies and skills necessary to be successful academically as well as socially. Middle school is a crucial time for students as they transition from childhood to adulthood. They are looking for their identity, and more rely on their peers for approval and understanding.

Middle school counselors who are successful have an excellent understanding of adolescent psychology. They can also build trusting relationships and friendships with students. Middle school counselors work closely with parents, teachers, school administrators, and even parents, just like elementary school counselors. The school counselor curriculum can include topics such as career exploration, substance abuse education, academic skills support, and social skills.

High school counselor

These adolescent years are when students evaluate their strengths, abilities, and potential. They are also heavily influenced by their peers. High school counselors are more likely to help students make academic and career plans. They also can assist with personal problems that could affect their education. High school counselors can help students with financial aid and college selection. They also provide advice to students on career options and guidance for making decisions about the future.

These counselors meet with students individually or in small groups. They also communicate regularly with parents to address concerns. The school counselor curriculum could include topics such as college planning, conflict resolution skills, and substance abuse education.

Private high schools may have counselors who can help students choose the right college for them, help with financial aid and college applications, and help them transition to college.

Postsecondary counselors

Counseling at college is broken down into two distinct groups: educational counselors and psychological counselors (also called academic advisors).

  • Psychological college counsellors help students with mental health issues. They help them to manage stress, anxiety, adapt to college life, cope with homeickness, handle crisis counseling and make career and educational decisions. The American College Counseling Association (ACCA) states that colleges and universities with college counselors have higher student retention rates. According to state laws, psychologist college counselors may need licensing. They can have a master’s or PhD in psychology. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics psychological school counselors make a median salary of $75,000.
  • Academic advisors assist students in choosing classes and completing graduation requirements. They also provide information about course-transfer requirements and placement testing. There are many requirements for academic advisors. Some institutions only require a bachelor’s degree while others will not accept candidates without a master’s.

School counselor education requirements

  • Education: Master’s or doctoral degree
  • The average study time is 4-6 years

Most states require school counselors in grades K-12 to have a master’s degree in counseling or another related field. Most states require a master’s degree in school counseling or a related field. Coursework includes courses in learning theory, developmental theory, social justice theory and multiculturalism. Master’s degrees usually include a supervised practicum, or internship. In some states, the requirement for an internship can be replaced by full-time teaching experience.

Although a master’s degree may not be required for college counselors, some employers prefer it. Counselors at colleges who offer psychological services must have a master’s or PhD.

Certification requirements

A school counselor usually holds a master’s degree in school counseling. They have completed practicums under the supervision of licensed school counselors and met a testing requirement. A state-issued credential is issued to public school counselors: certification, license or endorsement. Many states require that applicants have supervised clinical experience of at least 3,000 hours. For certification, some states require applicants to have at least one year of teaching experience in a classroom or to hold a teaching licence.

Licenses for educational counselors and private school counselors are not necessary.

The ASCA has information about the licensing requirements for each state. Both the National Board for Certified Counselors and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offer school counseling certification.

School counselors can expect a range of salaries

School counselors’ salaries can vary depending upon the state, education level, counseling degree, experience, expertise, and other factors. The median annual salary of a school counselor is $56,310, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest 10% earn less than $33,610, while the highest 10% earn more than $94,690. reports that the average salary for school counselors varies by state, from $46,458 up to $65,301.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics salary can also depend on where you work.

  • $56,310 for private, public, and local elementary and secondary schools
  • Additional educational services available: $52,440
  • 50,050 for postsecondary institutions
  • Health and social assistance: $38,790

Here’s a snapshot of the average salary for school counselors:

  • $50,861
  • $49,837
  • $52,814

Projections for school counselor employment

From 2018 to 2028, the employment of career and school counselors is expected to increase by 8%. Overall employment growth is expected due to increasing school enrollments. However, the location of hiring will depend on state and local budgets.

As more colleges open onsite career centers that are geared towards the transition of students into the workforce, postsecondary counseling jobs will increase in demand. Executive legislation that seeks to increase the national number of school counselors in order to boost college attendance among low and middle-income students will also increase demand. The national average currently has one counselor per 471 students. However, the ASCA recommends that the ratio be increased to one counselor per 250 students.

There are advantages and disadvantages to school counselors


  • This profession is a top choice for meaningful work and directly impacts the lives of young people.
  • There is so much variety and every day is unique.
  • High social interaction is what people who are looking for a rewarding career as a school counselor find it very fulfilling
  • Fostering relationships and seeing individual success
  • Helping others to cope with life and achieve independence


  • Particularly in certain school districts, there is fierce competition to get jobs.
  • Counselors in public schools may spend a lot time on non-essential tasks like bus duty, substitute teaching, or disciplining students.
  • High turnover rates are a problem. Within two years, 60 percent of school counselors have left the field.

School counselors can take professional development courses

Being a school counselor is important because you need to keep up with the latest education reform developments and student challenges. It is essential to make the most of education opportunities in order to be considered for promotion and remain effective in your field. For sustained licensure in many state, it is a requirement to continue education.

ASCA, a professional organization that offers training for school counselors, can offer continuing education units (CEUs) through its courses.

Associations for school counselors

The best of the web

It is easy to connect to well-respected school counselors via the internet.

Blogs from favorite school counselors