High School Guidance Counselor Education Requirements and Career Info

Those with strong communication skills and passion for helping students may consider becoming high school guidance counselors. These professionals help students solve personal, academic and career issues while preparing them for the responsibilities of adulthood. Read on to learn more about the requirements and career information for high school guidance counselors.

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High School Guidance Counselor Education Requirements

Becoming a high school guidance counselor begins with completion of a bachelor's degree program in psychology or an education-related field. Aspiring counselors must also complete a master's degree program in counseling. Graduate degree programs in counseling tend to have multiple tracks, so students may benefit from taking the educational track that deals most directly with school counseling.

Curriculum

Psychology courses make up the majority of the curriculum for students studying to become high school guidance counselors. Classes at the undergraduate level focus on learning practical techniques that form an educational foundation for students.

Graduate level courses include more theory and real-world training and prepare students to effectively communicate with and assist young adults. Potential courses at the master's degree level include counseling methods, group counseling and career guidance. These degree programs tend to culminate in a counseling practicum that offers students hands-on experience in a high school setting.

High School Guidance Counselor Career Information

High school guidance counselors deal with teenagers on a regular basis, advising them on issues pertaining to college admission, financial aid and scholarships. High school guidance counselors also provide emotional support by listening to students and helping them with any personal problems. Topics like drug addiction, racism and dangerous sexual behavior are also addressed by high school guidance counselors. Counselors may meet with high school students on a one-on-one basis or in group settings.

Licensing Requirements

High school guidance counselors may be required to obtain licensure to enter the workforce. Specific licensing requirements vary from state to state; however, high school guidance counselors generally must hold graduate degrees applicable to the field. Depending on the state, counselors employed by public high schools might need to have some teaching experience and pass a state-licensing exam. Counselors may be required to earn continuing education credits to maintain licensure.

Voluntary Certification

The National Board for Certified Counselors offers the National Certified Counselor (NCC) designation to graduates of accredited master's degree programs in counseling (www.nbcc.org). Applicants must also have 3,000 hours of professional experience and 100 hours of supervising experience. Qualified candidates are then eligible to sit for a national certification exam and, upon passage, use the NCC designation. While this certification is voluntary, some states accept it in place of a state-administered certification exam.

Job Outlook and Salary Info

The need for elementary and secondary school counselors is expected to increase by eight percent from 2010 to 2020, based on figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors who worked for elementary and secondary schools earned an average salary of $62,970 in 2012, according to the BLS.

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