School counselors typically do the following:
The specific duties of school counselors vary with the ages of their students.
Elementary school counselors focus on helping students develop certain skills, such as those used in decisionmaking and studying, that they need in order to be successful in their social and academic lives. School counselors meet with parents or guardians to discuss their child’s strengths and weaknesses, and any special needs and behavioral issues that the child might have. School counselors also work with teachers and administrators to ensure that the curriculum addresses both the developmental and academic needs of students.
Middle school counselors work with school staff, parents, and the community to create a caring, supportive environment for students to achieve academic success. They help the students develop the skills and strategies necessary to succeed academically and socially.
High school counselors advise students in making academic and career plans. Many help students overcome personal issues that interfere with their academic development. They help students choose classes and plan for their lives after graduation. Counselors provide information about choosing and applying for colleges, training programs, financial aid, and internships and apprenticeships. They may present career workshops to help students search and apply for jobs, write résumés, and improve their interviewing skills.
Career counselors typically do the following:
Career counselors work with clients at various stages of their careers. Some work in colleges, helping students choose a major or determine the jobs they are qualified for with their degrees. Career counselors also help people find and get jobs by teaching them job search, résumé writing, and interviewing techniques.
Career counselors also work with people who have already entered the workforce. These counselors develop plans to improve their clients’ current careers. They also provide advice about entering a new profession or helping to resolve workplace issues.
Some career counselors work in outplacement firms and assist laid-off workers with transitioning into new jobs or careers.
Nearly all states and the District of Columbia require school counselors to have a master’s degree in school counseling or a related field. Degree programs teach counselors the essential skills of the job, such as how to foster academic development; conduct group and individual counseling; work with parents, school staff, and community organizations; and use data to develop, implement, and evaluate comprehensive school counseling programs for all students. These programs often require counselors to complete an internship.
Some employers prefer that career counselors have a master’s degree in counseling with a focus on career development. Career counseling programs prepare students to assess clients’ skills and interests and to teach career development techniques.
Many master’s degree programs in counseling require students to have a period of supervised experience, such as an internship.
Public school counselors must have a state-issued credential to practice. This credential can be called a certification, a license, or an endorsement, depending on the state. Licensure or certification typically requires a master’s degree in school counseling, an internship or practicum completed under the supervision of a licensed professional school counselor, and successful completion of a test.
Some states require applicants to have classroom teaching experience, or to hold a teaching license, prior to being certified. Most states require a criminal background check as part of the credentialing process. Information about requirements for each state is available from the American School Counselor Association.
Some states require licensure for career counselors; check with your state for more information. Contact information for state regulating boards is available from the National Board for Certified Counselors.