How to Become a School Guidance Counselor

School guidance counselors have a crucial part in the development of students right the way through from kindergarten to college. As a school guidance counselor, you will be tasked with advising students on everything from issues at home to their future career plans and applications to college. Working as a school guidance counselor is a very rewarding career, allowing you to spend every day working closely with children and young people to make a memorable difference in their lives, whether you’re offering emotional support as they go through family issues, or helping them navigate the college application process and make a decision on the subject that they want to major in. So, if you’ve decided that this is the perfect career choice for you, what do you need to do to get there?

#1. Get a Bachelor’s Degree:

First of all, if you haven’t got a bachelor’s degree, then you will need to earn one before you are able to start working as a school guidance counselor. While the subject that you choose to study is not always important and you have several options to go for, it’s always worth considering majoring in a subject that’s going to be relevant to your career choices, such as psychology, child psychology, human behavior, sociology, social work or education. Majors like these provide future school guidance counselors with an adequate foundation for their career and open up opportunities for relevant internships and work experience.

#2. Study for a Master’s Degree:

Once you have graduated and got your bachelor’s degree in the bag, you’ll need to do some further study in order to get qualified as a school guidance counselor. This is the part where you will take everything that you have learned at college or university so far and focus it into your future career choice with a masters in school counseling; this will set you up with everything that you need to know for your future position. Obtaining a masters in school counseling is mandatory to gain your school guidance counselor license in most states, and you should consider programs that are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

#3. Become Licensed:

Once you have your master’s degree, you should meet the minimum requirements for getting your license. All states require this of school guidance counselors and the process will typically involve a comprehensive written exam plus at least one to three years of supervised work experience. You can obtain your license by embarking on a licensing program, which are provided by bodies such as the National Board for Certified Counselors and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

#4. Maintain Your License:

Once you have obtained your license, it’s important that you are able to meet continuing educational standards over at least a five-year period in order to remain eligible to work in the position. Continuing education credits can come from college courses, which can help to advance your career, or from the National Board for Certified Counselors. Depending on the state that you are working in, you may need to have any continuing education approved by a counselor’s supervisor, or the area superintendent.

#5. Experience Needed:

Now you know what you’ll need to do in order to become a school guidance counselor, do you have the experience – and the personality traits – needed to be successful in this career? The good news is that you will learn most of the key skills necessary to become a school guidance counselor during your educational journey. However, it helps if you already have great communication skills, are proficient with IT packages such as Microsoft Office, database software and video conferencing software, particularly if you plan to complete your studies online. You will ideally be a person who is passionate about helping others and are non-judgmental when working with people of all races, backgrounds, cultures, and religions. You will need to be trustworthy, ethical, and be able to instill confidence in your young clients. And, you will need to be skilled at separating your work and personal lives to minimize stress on yourself while working in this position.

School guidance counselors play a hugely important part in the development of children and young people through every stage of their childhood. Once qualified and eligible to work as a school guidance counselor, you will be spending every day being the first point of call for students who need advice on a range of issues, whether it be problems at home or questions about their future education.