A school’s faculty is made of teachers, administrators, and support staff. Support staff may include teacher assistants, office personnel, resource educators, and school counselors. School counselors are specialized educators that play an integral role in the school setting.
What is a Master’s Program in School Counseling?
Guidance counselors must earn a master’s degree in school counseling after completing a degree in behavioral science, social science, or education. Many institutions offer an 18-24 month school counseling programs. These programs often involve courses that revolve around studying theories so the counselors will be prepared to assist clients.
While taking courses at the graduate level, the student will participate in an internship at a school under the supervision of a licensed and established school counselor already working in a school. This experience is similar to a student teaching program. Some universities in different states require students to pass a state exam before applying for state licensure for school counseling, again similar to classroom teachers. School guidance counselors must maintain current licensure by completing continued education units within the counseling field.
The Benefits of a School Counseling Degree
The benefits of school counselors include a competitive salary in education. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median 2020 annual pay for school counselors was $58,120. Other benefits are similar to a classroom teacher; summers can typically be used for a vacation as most schools do not offer summer counseling programs for students. School counselors also qualify for the same pension and retirement benefits as a classroom teacher, which can include medical, dental, and vision benefits.
Benefits in this profession also include impacting the future generations of school counselors by participating in various professional development opportunities to enhance a local counseling programs in schools and developing professional growth to lead workshops for other school counselors. School counselors can also supervise first-year counselors and assist them in developing beginning skills.
Why You Should Pursue School Counseling Right Now
School counselors provide a multitude of services to all students from elementary to high school. The services can have a direct approach by teaching specific age-appropriate skills to foster students’ social growth weekly or biweekly. Individuals in this position also plan classroom lessons for various grade levels. For example, a school counselor may teach a kindergarten group of students to be a good listener, get along with friends, or share. At the high school level, they may create a lesson to guide teenagers in making successful decisions when faced with peer pressure.
The counselor may also work indirectly for the students by leading programs with teachers and administration within the school that will benefit the well-being of the student body. This can include leading a school initiative that supports the growth of students behaviorally and socially. School counselors may direct an academic support program, where other students learn how to become peer tutors and arrange to work with other students.
In all schools, the counselors offer support and guidance for students, parents, and teachers, and in return, they can connect and witness growth with individual students. School counseling is a career for anyone interested in working with students to support academic, behavioral, and social development.
Today, many students are faced with societal challenges that could impact their academics, the ability to behave appropriately, and more. The advancement of technology has given students information at their fingertips, but not all immediate information is educational. Students may come across information on the internet that is questionable, and guidance from a school counselor can be beneficial to assist with this. Today’s students in all grades face social media that impacts socialization. School counselors instruct students as early as fourth grade on digital citizenship, helping to guide young and older students with living in a digital world.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, limited gatherings with friends, changes to family holiday traditions, inability to travel, and many more “new normal” situations still force our students to readjust their routines. School counselors are experiencing a higher volume of students needing assistance with the changes they have been faced with.
Behavioral differences, such as attention difficulties, sensory, and auditory processing, require some students to need observations by a school counselor or provide daily support. Some students prefer going to their classroom teacher or administrators to share troubling situations happening to them at school or home. Still, a school counselor is a specialized trained professional that can assist these students with any challenges the students are facing.
Some school counselors start a career in education as a teacher but feel a calling to the school counselor’s specialized impact on individual students. Teachers still make a significant impact in students’ lives, but a school counselor is also necessary for students, teachers, and parents. Pursuing a master’s in school counseling is worth its weight in gold for today’s students.
Ready to pursue an advanced program in school counseling? Explore our available programs and start your next journey today!