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Guidance Counselor


How to Become a Guidance Counselor
Job Duties of a Guidance Counselor
Skills and Qualities to Become a Guidance Counselor
Salaries of Guidance Counselors
Influential Professionals in the Guidance Counselor Field
Leading Guidance Counselor Organizations
Top Cities for Guidance Counselor Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Guidance Counselor

School guidance counselors are usually certified educators trained in school counseling. At a minimum, a career in guidance counseling requires a bachelor's degree, and some states require a master's degree. Classes should include work in communications, psychology, education, and social studies. Those working toward a career as a guidance counselor should also be comfortable with mathematics and statistics. Accredited school counseling programs require aspiring school guidance counselors to have 600 hours of internship under a highly qualified school counselor who has a masters' degree or higher

What does a Guidance Counselor do?

Guidance counselors help guide and structure the educational and vocational goals of others, usually high school adolescents. It is the job of guidance counselors to help students plan a course of study and advise them on potential career paths. In order to do so, counselors work to understand the motivations and desires of individual students as well as their skills and capabilities. Guidance counselors spend about 35% of their time in consultation with parents and students. Another 25% of their time is spent administering and gleaning the results from tests and assessments used to provide a better understanding of each student's needs. Much time is also spent helping students track their progress toward graduation requirements and preparing for options after high school. Guidance counselors offer advice regarding college majors and financial aid. In addition, they help students with resume writing, job hunting, interview skills, and career planning.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Guidance Counselor?

Guidance counselors must be nurturing and caring individuals who can develop a rapport with adolescents. Counselors must have good interpersonal and communication skills to work with both the students and other adults in the community. Guidance counselors are expected to collaborate and consult with parents, teachers, and administrators on a variety of topics. People with excellent listening skills, who love to talk with others, and who have a sense of humor will enjoy this profession.

Successful guidance counselors require emotional stability. Guidance counselors have a staggering 60% attrition rate due in large part to the high degree of emotional commitment required in this profession.

How much do Guidance Counselors make?

School counselors are presently paid the highest overall salary out of all the counseling fields. In addition, guidance counselors who work in high schools can supplement their income by working in other settings during the summer. The current national average for those starting out in the profession is $33,160 per year. After five years the average annual salary is $44,100. Median annual earnings for all educational, vocational, and school counselors in 2006 were $53,750. The middle fifty percent earned between $36,120 and $60,990.

Prospective guidance counselors should find a favorable market because employment opportunities are expected to grow faster than graduation rates from counseling programs. Demand for certified/licensed school guidance counselors is projected to grow due to increased enrollment in secondary schools and increased involvement of school professionals in crisis and preventive counseling.


Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Jesse B. Davis is considered the first principal in the United States to provide a systematic high school guidance counseling program. In 1907 his program was supported by English teachers who used their lessons and writing assignments to help students avoid behavioral problems and develop character. Students also shared career interests in weekly reports and related these interests to their school's curriculum.

Frank Parsons is remembered as the "Father of Vocational Guidance". In 1908, he developed the Bureau of Vocational Guidance to assist students in the transition from school to work. He was known for his interest in helping others make career decisions and helped to create the first counselor certification program in the United States. This plan was eventually implemented by Harvard University as the first college based counselor education program.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

Guidance counselors are supported by two major organizations in the United States: the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and the American School Counselor Association (ASCA). NACAC was founded in 1937 and is based in Alexandria, Virginia. More than 10,000 professionals claim membership in this organization that is committed to promoting high professional standards that foster ethical and social responsibility. As its name indicates, this group places a strong emphasis on serving students as they make choices regarding the transition from high school to post-secondary education.

Also based in Alexandria, Virginia and founded in 1952, ASCA currently has more than 24,000 members. They work to increase the influence and expand the image of counselors and support counselors as they guide students toward becoming responsible, contributing members of society. This international organization provides professional development, publications, research, and advocacy.

What are the top cities for Guidance Counselor jobs?

Several cities aspiring guidance counselors should consider when looking for open positions are in states clustered in the Great Lakes region of the United States. New York City is currently the city with the most open positions in the field. It is followed closely by Chicago, Illinois. Two other cities in this region with several open positions are Greenville, Wisconsin and Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. People who prefer the West Coast of the United States should look for openings in San Francisco, California.

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