Careers Career Paths What Does a School Guidance Counselor Do? Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More Share PINTEREST Email Print Grace Kim / The Balance Career Paths Government Careers Technology Careers Sports Careers Sales Project Management Professional Writer Music Careers Media Legal Careers US Military Careers Finance Careers Fiction Writing Careers Entertainment Careers Criminology Careers Book Publishing Aviation Animal Careers Advertising Learn More Table of Contents Expand Duties & Responsibilities School Guidance Counselor Salary Education, Training, & Certification Skills & Competencies Job Outlook Work Environment Work Schedule Comparing Similar Jobs By Michael Roberts Michael Roberts Michael Roberts serves as an associate commissioner in the Texas Health and Human Services department. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 05/18/22 School guidance counselors help students develop the academic and social skills needed to succeed, personally and professionally. Counselors in elementary and secondary schools help students overcome obstacles that may inhibit their learning. Students come to school with a wide range of problems and challenges. They may have learning disabilities, come from a low-income family, experience abuse or neglect, or have an addiction. School counselors work in collaboration with parents, teachers, principals, medical professionals, and social workers to identify and address these problems. School Guidance Counselor Duties & Responsibilities The responsibilities of a school guidance counselor may vary according to student age and grade level. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides some typical duties that a school guidance counselor may perform: Evaluating students’ abilities and interests through aptitude assessments, interviews, and individual planningIdentifying issues that affect school performance, such as poor classroom attendance ratesHelping students understand and overcome social or behavioral problems through classroom guidance lessons and counselingCounseling individuals and small groups on the basis of student and school needsWorking with students to develop skills, such as organizational and time management abilities and effective study habitsHelping students create a plan to achieve academic and career goalsCollaborating with teachers, administrators, and parents to help students succeedTeaching students and school staff about specific topics, such as bullying, drug abuse, and planning for college or careers after graduationMaintaining records as requiredReporting possible cases of neglect or abuse and referring students and parents to resources outside the school for additional support Students need to trust their counselors. Without trust, students will not provide counselors with the information they need to appropriately apply their professional knowledge. Part of inspiring students' trust is maintaining confidentiality, but counselors must also know when it is necessary to violate this confidentiality. When students discuss crimes, abuse, or neglect, counselors have an obligation to report this information to the appropriate authorities. Counselors should also report suspicions of crimes, abuse, and neglect when their professional judgment leads them to believe that these events have occurred or are ongoing. School Guidance Counselor Salary The BLS provides a classification for school and career counselors. These professionals earned the following wages, based on education, skills, and experience: Median annual salary: $57,040Top 10% annual salary: $96,090Bottom 10% annual salary: $34,380 Education, Training, & Certification Those drawn to the counseling profession have a desire to help others. Although people rarely go into the field for financial reasons, school counselors often earn higher salaries than teachers. To become a school guidance counselor, you will need the following degrees, licenses, and experience: College degrees: Most states require that school counselors hold a master’s degree, as well as supervised experience with a completed internship. Licenses and certifications: Public school counselors must have a state-issued license or certification to practice, although requirements vary by state. Licensure or certification typically requires a master’s degree in school counseling, an internship or practicum completed under the supervision of a licensed professional school counselor, and successful completion of an exam. Some states require applicants to have classroom teaching experience or to hold a teaching license prior to being certified. Most states require a criminal background check as part of the credentialing process. Information about requirements for each state is available from the American School Counselor Association. Experience: The experience required to land a school counselor job varies by state, school district, and job market. Job postings may not require experience, but a more experienced candidate certainly has an advantage over a less experienced candidate. People who are new to the field may have to take less desirable assignments than counselors who have already put their time into the profession. Additionally, there is stiffer competition for jobs in high-performing and affluent schools. School Guidance Counselor Skills & Competencies To be successful in this field, you will need to be: Trustworthy: Maintain the confidentiality of students, parents, and teachers unless something needs to be brought to the attention of the authorities,Perceptive: Understand what's really going on to find a solution.Objective: Be nonjudgmental so that a fair determination can be made that is not based on hearsay or bias.Truthful: Be honest with students, teachers, and parents to gain their trust in order to determine the problem and appropriate solution.A problem-solver: Be able to properly handle difficult situations, such as a student dealing with domestic abuse, addiction, or a criminal environment.Ethical: Seek the proper intervention, for example, if the student is suspected of having committed a crime such as theft or drug abuse. Job Outlook According to the BLS, employment for school guidance counselors s projected to grow 8% from 2019 to 2029. Rising student enrollments in elementary, middle, and high schools are expected to increase the demand for professionals in this field. Work Environment Counselors conduct much of their work in an office, as they need private space to meet with students and others involved in each student’s development. Counselors may also venture outside the office to observe students in the classroom. Teachers may report certain behaviors to the counselor, and the counselor may want to make independent observations as part of assessing the student’s counseling needs. Work Schedule Most school guidance counselors work full-time. Some school counselors do not work during the summer months when school is out of session. Comparing Similar Jobs If you are interested in a counseling career, you may want to consider these similar jobs, presented along with their medial annual salaries: Psychologist: $80,370 Rehabilitation counselor: $35,950 Marriage and family therapist: $49,610 Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselor: $46,240 Social and community service manager: $67,150 How to Get the Job Search the Job Boards: Look at popular job boards such as Indeed, Glassdoor, and CareerBuilder. The website iHireSchoolAdministrators also advertises school counselor positions. Submit Your Application: The hiring process for counselors is similar to the hiring process for teachers. You must submit your application and other required documents to the school district’s human resources office for screening. Applications meeting the minimum requirements are forwarded to the school principal for further consideration. Go on the Interview: Once finalists are selected, the principal or an interview panel selected by the principal meets the finalists for interviews. The selected candidate then receives a job offer.