Being a school counselor is a rewarding career when you know you’re helping kids and young adults more easily navigate the pressures and responsibilities of going to school and planning their futures. A master’s degree in school counseling prepares you for guiding students through whatever difficulty they’re facing, whether personal or academic.
School counselors specialize in different departments of student guidance, such as:
- Helping students plan their road to graduation
- Helping students set goals for careers
- Helping students with mental illnesses
Like with any career, part of your consideration to go into school counseling may include your earning potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for school counselors in 2016 was $54,560 a year. Counselors who work in elementary and secondary schools earned $62,100 a year on the higher end. The top 10% of counselors earned more than $90,030 annually, while the lowest 10% earned less than $32,400 per year.
The BLS also reports that the number of jobs for school counselors is expected to grow by 11% from 2016 to 2026, which is faster than the national average.
A master’s degree in school counseling gives you a wide range of options. Which one you choose depends on what role you want to play in putting students on the path toward success. Here are some well-known school counselor jobs and the responsibilities they include.
Mental Health Counselor
Students suffering from mental illnesses and learning disabilities are at risk of falling behind in class and having their conditions worsen over time. A mental health professional who specializes in school counseling helps students cope with these setbacks through therapy.
A mental health counselor also develops specialized learning programs to help these students learn and grow at their own pace, free from traditional environments that students without special needs can perform in.
Teachers who are tasked with instructing these students have a big responsibility. Counselors work with teachers to smoothly integrate special needs programs into their methods, providing a guide on how to best accommodate these students.
Students might know what they’re passionate about and what motivates them, but they’re not always able to connect the dots. Academic advisors exist to help students plot a road map toward academic fulfillment and, ultimately, graduation. Advisors keep students abreast of different requirements for majors and help them evaluate their options, both in how appealing and how realistic they are.
Students turn to career counselors when they struggle to figure out life after graduation. Career counselors help students bridge the gap between school and a job to help them make decisions on what they want to do for work.
Counselors in this field assess students’ skills and interests and help guide them on doing productive job research and identifying courses and opportunities that will help them grow and be competitive in their chosen field.
The job of the school counselor is to make the life of students easier. Personal and professional development is a long and complicated journey for people at every stage of their academic life—before, during and after. The people designated for cultivating that journey must have rigorous education and training.
Consider how you best fit into that journey and how your current skills could be applied to the different fields of school counseling. Enrolling in a master’s program will enrich you with the skills, knowledge and drive to be a successful school counselor.
Online Master in Mental Health Counseling
Explore a similar online graduate program: mental health counseling.