High School Counselor Requirements, Duties and Career Information
A high school counselor plays the role of academic advisor to high school students. The first priority of the counselor is to ensure that students perform their best academically. If students are not meeting course requirements or are having disciplinary problems, the high school counselor intervenes, sometimes with the collaboration of parents, to remedy the situation.
High School Counselor Requirements
The academic requirements for high school counselors differ from state to state. In some states, a college degree and some graduate courses are sufficient for certification. In other states, a high school counselor is required to have a master's degree. Some states mandate teacher's certification and teaching experience in addition to other requirements. Without national standards, prospective counselors must investigate the unique requirements of the state in which they plan to practice.
All training typically spans a number of fields, including education, social work, psychology and communication. Counseling high school students requires a strong personality and the ability to handle common adolescent issues on a daily basis. High school counselors learn to relate with school teachers, administrators and parents; they must also understand the policies and hierarchal structure of the school system in which they are employed.
Counselors in secondary education are primarily tasked with helping adolescents navigate the unique educational, social and behavioral obstacles related to attending high school. This may include issues such as staying in school and avoiding substance abuse. They must also act as social workers, seeking to identify home-based problems that may negatively impact the academic and social development of students.
A high school counselor is expected to be very knowledgeable of career preparation in order to provide advice to students regarding education and employment options after high school. Counselors supply admission requirements for colleges and training programs, and otherwise help students with graduation preparedness. To this end, counselors may invite Armed Forces recruiters and business leaders to the school to explain the benefits of their industries to high school graduates. They may also plan and execute career fairs and volunteer internships.
Common duties include disseminating of scholarship information, supplying school-to-career guidance, interpreting standardized test scores, developing guidance curriculum, providing student resources, counseling individual students, coordinating with social service agencies, maintaining records, facilitating conferences and orientating new students. They may work with students one-on-one, in a private setting with teachers and parents, or with peers in a group assembly or discussion forum.
Salary and Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, education, vocational and school counselors earned a median annual wage of $51,050 as of May 2008. Employment opportunities for counselors are expected to grow 14% between 2008 and 2018 (www.bls.gov). High school counselors seeking to develop their careers may consider pursuing national certification through the National Board for Certified Counselors.
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