School Guidance Counselor Jobs

Able to assist students in their academics, behavior, and social abilities, school guidance counselors play an integral role in the school environment.

Job duties range from individual counseling to administering tests to teaching in the classroom.

The majority of states require school counselors to have a master’s degree in counseling. An undergraduate degree in education is beneficial and sometimes required along with previous teaching experience. All states have specific certification requirements that must be followed. A detailed supervised clinical experience, of up to two years in length or 3,000 hours, is another common requirement for licensure.

The average salary for a school counselor employed in elementary and secondary schools is US$60,020. This is significantly higher than the average of US$51,050, which includes school counselors in other settings like colleges and family services. Guidance counselors may be required by their district to work beyond the traditional 10 month school year.

Job requirements vary according the level of students counseled. At the elementary level, the guidance counselor is often involved in the classroom setting. She may instruct whole classes of students about issues like bullying and self-confidence. Mediation is often provided for students in conflict. Also, a large amount of time is spent counseling students individually.

Administering tests is often a guidance counselor duty. He may be in charge of observing a student’s behavior during class and completing an observation checklist to assess behavioral problems. Guidance counselors also help administer and score assessments that identify conditions like giftedness or learning or behavior problems.

At the secondary level, guidance counselors help students on a more academic basis. Students often schedule their classes with the help of a guidance counselor. She is also a resource for job or higher education opportunities. Assisting students with job or college applications, scholarships, financial aid, and college entrance exams is an important part of a guidance counselor’s job.

At both levels, when tragic events happen to the student population, the school’s guidance counselors offer resources to help the students. Guidance counselors also arrange meetings for workshops to assist students who have suffered tragic events like the death of a family member or placement in foster care.

The school guidance counselor is often used as a resource figure for teachers, administrators, and health providers in the school. Other school professionals will consult the guidance counselor on ways to solve issues or request the guidance counselor’s services for a particular student.

Parent communication is another essential aspect of a guidance counselor’s job. In some situations, concerned parents will contact the guidance counselor seeking support or resources for their child. Other times, the guidance counselor must contact the parents about an important issue. Oftentimes these issues are stressful and difficult to discuss.

The school guidance counselor also has the responsibility to contact social services when he suspects a child is in a potentially harmful situation. Strong communication and collaboration skills along with compassion are vital characteristics to possess.

Usually part of a guidance counselor’s day is spent on school administration tasks that do not relate to counseling. Recess or bus duty, student discipline, and substitute teaching are often required of the school guidance counselor – likely due to the school’s budget constraints.

In fact, the American Counseling Association reports that school counselor’s spend between 10%-20% of their time on such non-related tasks.

Guidance counselors are advocates for children. A rewarding career is created by giving confidence to students, helping them overcome obstacles, and working to ensure they have a bright future. However, a high emotional investment is involved with school guidance counselors. In fact, nearly 60% of school guidance counselors leave their position within the first two years according to Princeton Review. The upside is that those who choose to stay report high levels of job satisfaction.

The following resources offer additional information.

The American Counseling Association

The American School Counselor Association

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