School counselors guide students through the wilds of education, overseeing the personal, career, and academic development of their charges and advocating for their rights at all levels. Playing an essential role in educational guidance, school counselors can make a difference for students and have a positive impact on their lives and learning experience.
Why You Should Consider a Master’s in School Counseling
A master’s degree in school counseling will prepare you to become a professional school counselor, which will provide you with opportunities to work in a variety of settings, including K-12 schools. You may also consider going into private practice as a career counselor. If you’re already working as a licensed teacher, you may find that this degree will lead you to a role that allows you to offer support outside the classroom, advising students on important educational and career decisions.
Common Curriculum Offered by Master’s in School Counseling Programs
Master’s degree programs in school counseling often split their offerings into two tracks: licensure (for those who require a master’s degree and a license) and non-licensure (for licensed teachers). Regardless of the track, you can expect to take courses in human growth and development, ethics, psychology and education. Course titles may include:
- Professional Counseling and Ethics
- Career Counseling and Development
- Human Development
- Assessments and Testing
- Life Planning
Field experience, such as an internship or practicum, is usually required for graduation.
Schools That Offer an Online Master’s in School Counseling
Thanks to the growth of online learning and increased interest in effective school counseling, excellent online masters’ programs in school counseling are widely available to interested students. Your options include:
- The University of Texas at Tyler’s online master of arts in school counseling includes a supervised, hands-on practicum and a comprehensive overview of the organization, planning and management of school counseling programs.
- Salem College has developed a research-driven online master of education in school counseling with courses on topics like leadership, ethics and group counseling. Candidates must complete internships and two weekend seminars on campus to graduate.
Need more? The American School Counselor Association has compiled a handy list of school counseling degree programs.
One important note: licensure and certification in school counseling are not the same. Licensure is established by individual states; certification is granted by certifying bodies like the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). Check with the program coordinator if you have any questions about how a particular program would prepare you for licensure.
What You Can Do with a Master’s in School Counseling
A master’s degree in school counseling means you’ll be prepared to support students in important educational and career decisions, whether you’re working in public or private schools, or in social assistance or government programs. Graduates with this degree often find work as:
- elementary, middle, or high school counselors
- guidance counselors
- student life counselors
- career counselors
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, school and career counselors can expect overall employment in their field to grow 12 percent from 2012 to 2022. And due to burgeoning demand, counselor employment in colleges, universities, and professional schools is expected to grow even more in the same period. Private sector school and career counselors have a similarly strong job outlook, with employment of school and career counselors in vocational rehabilitation services growing significantly as well.
School counselors can expect a median annual salary of $53,610, however, salaries often vary depending on the work setting. Counselors working for elementary and secondary schools, for example, will typically earn about $60,560 per year.