Teachers aren’t the only professionals who help guide students through their academic careers and into the future. School counselors and career counselors play a distinct but essential role in helping students succeed in school and in later life.
There is some overlap in the kind of help they provide, but the two jobs have different focuses and work environments. School counselors work in public and private schools. Their goal is to help students develop social skills and to succeed in school.
A school counselor matches students’ ambitions with their strengths. He or she might monitor academic performance to ensure graduation, administer tests to gauge the student’s needs, provide college and career counseling, and even educate students about substance abuse and bullying.
Career counselors, on the other hand, typically work in colleges, government agencies, career centers and private practices. They assist people in making career decisions by helping them choose a career or educational program.
It’s challenging and rewarding work, and the field is growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the country will need about 12 percent more school and career counselors in 2022 than it did in 2012. That’s a little better than the average for all jobs and careers, and it translates into 31,200 more openings nationwide for school counselors and career counselors in that 10-year period.
Predictions of job availability are tricky, though. Increasing college enrollment should mean more openings for school counselors and career counselors in the coming years. However, decreasing funding from federal, state and local governments could offset that effect by limiting new hiring.
Helping young people fulfill their potential is rewarding, but school counselors and career counselors also make healthy salaries. In 2012, the median salary for counselors at all levels was $53,610 a year. That comes to $25.77 an hour, although almost all school counselors and career counselors work full-time in salaried positions.
Of course, all those national averages are affected by local situations. Salaries and job availability vary depending on where you are in the country. Potential job applicants are encouraged to do their own salary research in realtion to the region in which they are seeking work.
The qualifications vary from state to state and from employer to employer, but typically people who are looking for careers as school counselors will need a master’s degree in school counseling or a related field, such as educational administration, and usually have to be credentialed.
A lot of organizations that hire career counselors want their entry-level counselors to have at least a master’s degree. Career counselors in private practice will often need a license. too.