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Is Being a School Counselor a Good Career Choice?

by Louise W. Rice

Being a school counselor is a great opportunity to work with children of all ages as they navigate their school lives. As most of us can remember, school isn’t always easy!

The role of a school counselor is to provide support and advocate for children to ensure that they get the best education possible, even if they are dealing with difficult personal circumstances. School counselors are vital in ensuring that the children they support get the best possible start in life.

What do school counselors do?

When we think about school counselors, we probably imagine someone working individually with children to help them to navigate their emotional and personal problems. It’s true that this is part of the role of a school counselor, but there is also more to it than that.

School counselors are part of the leadership team in the educational facility that they are part of. They do work individually with children, but they also work to ensure that the school is being operated in a way that promotes the wellbeing of the students. They may also act as an advocate for children, ensuring that their voices are heard, and their needs are met.

Some of the duties carried out by school counselors are:

  • Helping students to apply strategies that will help them achieve their academic goals
  • Supporting students with emotional difficulties over a short time period
  • Referring students for more in-depth psychological help if needed
  • Working collaboratively with teachers, students, and parents to ensure student success
  • Advocating for students at meetings
  • Carrying out data analysis to work out how best to encourage success for all students going forwards
  • Working to implement change to systems within the school that protect children’s wellbeing and promote academic success

Where can they work?

As a school counselor, you can work at almost any educational establishment, ranging from elementary schools all the way up to colleges.

The work you do will be determined largely by the institution you choose to work in, so it’s worth bearing this in mind when you’re making your decision.

Working in an elementary school, you might work with groups of children or with individuals, providing support as they go about their day-to-day lives. You will work in collaboration with teachers, helping to identify children who require any additional support and ensuring that they receive everything they need to help them get to the next level of education.

If you work in a high school, your duties will be similar, but of course, the issues you encounter will be different. You’ll be helping children deal with interpersonal issues and access the support they need, and also helping them to plan their next steps. School counselors play a role in helping high school students to decide what career path they would like to embark on and assist with the steps needed to get them there. For example, you might help with applications to colleges or apprenticeship schemes.

When choosing where you would like to work, it’s a good idea to consider the quality of the school counseling program at the institution you’re applying to, as this can influence your job in certain ways.

Career outlook

In May 2020, the average salary for a school counselor was $58,120 per year.

The highest-earning 10 percent of school counselors earned more than $97,910 per year, while the lowest-earning 10 percent earned less than $35,610. The salary you can expect to receive will be dependent on the location and the type of institution you work at. Large schools in cities are likely to have more funding than smaller rural schools, for example.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an 8 percent increase in the number of school counselors employed between 2019 and 2029, with an additional 26,800 school counselors being needed. This increase is to an expected increase in the number of children enrolling in all levels of education. The 8 percent increase is much larger than increases expected across other sectors.

How do you become a school counselor?

School counselors usually need to have at least a master’s degree in school counseling. In some states, school counselors are also required to be licensed by the state before they can begin working.

The good news is that it’s possible to study for your master’s in school counseling from home and around your existing commitments. Saint Bonaventure University offers an online MSED in school counseling, which will furnish you with the psychological and cultural knowledge that you need to flourish as a school counselor.

In order to qualify as a school counselor, you will need to gain experience in the field before you can apply for licensure. A huge part of the course offered by Saint Bonaventure is helping you to identify placements in your local area that will allow you to gain the experience you need.

The pass rate for Saint Bonaventure students taking the licensed professional counselor exam is 98 percent, and you don’t need to complete a GRE (Graduate Record Examination) to qualify to study on the course, which makes it more accessible for everyone.

What career opportunities are there for school counselors?

There are a lot of interesting and exciting career options for school counselors.

Of course, you will have the opportunity to continue to work as a school counselor, gaining more knowledge and experience within that role and climbing the ranks within school counseling programs. However, you will also have a lot of transferable skills, which mean that you could change the course of your career relatively easily.

Many school counselors continue their psychology training and become school psychologists, working with students who have greater mental health needs.

The transferable skills you will gain also equip you for careers outside of the school, such as:

  • Community mental health work
  • Working with businesses to support staff
  • Private practice in mental health and counseling

Or you could take your skills and use them to start your own entrepreneurial endeavor or work at a charity or non-profit.

Overall, being a school counselor could be a great career choice for you!

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