Guidance counselors work with students to encourage academic success. They may also address behavioral and psychological issues that make it difficult for students to succeed. To help reach those goals, guidance counselors often work closely with teachers, parents and school administrators.
People who excel as guidance counselors usually have an interest in education and psychology. Since some students may present challenging cases, counselors should have excellent communication and people skills. A compassionate outlook can also contribute to a guidance counselor's success.
Guidance Counselor Job Education Requirements
While states set their own educational requirements for guidance counselors, most school systems will only hire people applicants who have performed post-baccalaureate work. Earning a master's degree in a subject such as counseling psychology or counselor education can make people in this field more competitive.
All states require guidance counselors to obtain a license before they can work in public school systems. States may also require counselors to complete practicum work where they receive close supervision. Some states only hire guidance counselors who have received certifications to work as teachers.
Guidance Counselor Job Market
The job market for guidance counselors is expected to grow by about 12 percent between 2012 and 2022. This the average growth rate for U.S. jobs. In 2012, there were 262,300 people working in the field. Analysts expect the position to grow by 31,200 jobs by 2022.
People who wish to do similar work but cannot find jobs as guidance counselors may want to consider careers as recreation therapists or mental health and substance abuse social workers. The education requirements for these positions can differ. Recreation therapists can often find jobs with associate's degrees. Positions are difficult to obtain, however, without a bachelor's degree.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, guidance counselors earned a median salary of $53,610 in 2012. Those in the highest 10th percentile earned about $86,870 in 2013. Those in the lowest 10th percentile earned just under $32,000.
Where a guidance counselor works can significantly affect his or her pay. States with the highest annual mean wages in 2013 include:
New Jersey ($70,070)
New York ($63,870)
District of Columbia ($63,500)
Those who want to earn more money may want to consider searching for jobs in these areas.