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5 Degree Paths to Become a School Guidance Counselor

What is a School Guidance Counselor?

School guidance counselors, also known as school counselors, are essential members of the educational community who play a crucial role in supporting students’ personal, social, and academic development. They are trained professionals who work in elementary, middle, and high schools as well as in colleges and universities.

School counselors assist students by providing counseling services and helping them navigate various challenges they may face. They address mental health concerns, offer career counseling, and guide students in developing essential life skills. Their role includes helping students prepare for college applications, financial aid, and other post-secondary options.

These professionals are often part of the student services department and collaborate with other educators, school psychologists, and pupil personnel services to create a supportive and inclusive school environment. They design and implement school counseling programs tailored to the specific needs of their students and the school setting.

While the educational path to becoming a school counselor requires determination and commitment, degree paths are designed to set these aspiring professionals up for success. Most school counselors hold a master’s degree in school counseling and may have previous classroom teaching experience. To become a licensed professional school counselor, they need to meet the requirements set by state regulations and the American School Counselor Association.

School guidance counselors are dedicated professionals who support students’ personal and social development, academic success, and mental health. They work to ensure that students achieve their full potential in a nurturing and conducive educational environment. Many successful and happy adults who attended public or private school will likely remember their counselor and look back fondly at their relationship. So what does it take to become one of these inspiring professionals? Keep reading to learn about the most common school guidance counselor degree paths

School Guidance Counselor Degree Paths

  • Elementary School Counseling
  • Career Counseling
  • Academic Advising
  • Student Life Counseling
  • Special Needs Counseling

It’s important to note that there are many degree paths that students can take to become a school guidance counselor. This is a highly flexible field that provides many satisfying career opportunities. Whether school guidance counselor majors would like to work with elementary school students, high school students, or college students, there is a degree path that will help them achieve their career goals. Below you will find details on some of the best options out there!

1. Elementary School Counseling

One of the most popular degree paths for school guidance counselor students is elementary school counseling. Individuals who choose this degree path are responsible for counseling students, speaking with parents about issues with children, developing intervention programs, and referring students to other professionals in and outside of the school when necessary. To obtain a position in this area, students will typically need to earn a master’s degree in school guidance counseling.

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2. Career Counseling

Another popular degree path for school guidance counselor majors is career counseling. Persons who choose this path are typically employed by high schools and community colleges to help students determine what career would be best for them according to their abilities, interests, and academic prowess. In most cases, a minimum of a master’s degree in school guidance counseling with a minor or special coursework in career counseling is required for these positions.

3. Academic Advising

Academic advising is another great degree path for school counselor students. Students who choose this path often work as academic advisers after graduation. These professionals are typically employed by colleges and universities, and their main responsibilities are to help students choose the best programs for their goals and to ensure that students enroll in the proper courses to meet their programs’ completion requirements. According to, these positions paid an average salary of $48,367 at the beginning of 2019.

4. Student Life Counseling

Yet another degree path for persons majoring in school guidance counseling is student life counseling. Sometimes referred to as student life skills counselors, life counselors are often employed by colleges and universities to help students build their motivation and work on skills that can improve their lives. Students who choose to take this path will need a bachelor’s or master’s degree in school guidance counseling with a minor or special coursework in life skills counseling.

5. Special Needs Counseling

A degree path that is ideal for school counselor majors who would like to work with special needs children is special needs counseling. Special needs counselors work with a broad range of children including those who are autistic, deaf, learning impaired, and speech impaired. The main goals of these professionals are to make sure that special needs students succeed in school and receive the services they need inside and outside of school. A bachelor’s degree in school guidance counseling with a minor in special needs counseling is the minimum requirement for these positions.

Are you Interested in Earning a Degree to Become a School Guidance Counselor?

In conclusion, pursuing a career as a school counselor offers a fulfilling path for those passionate about making a positive impact on students’ lives. Whether aspiring to work in elementary schools, middle schools, or high schools, the journey to becoming a licensed guidance counselor involves completing a comprehensive school counseling program. These programs equip future school counselors with the necessary expertise to counsel students effectively, support their personal and academic growth, and develop essential life skills. As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for school counselors is expected to remain strong in public schools, underscoring the vital role they play in student achievement. Embracing the diverse responsibilities of the school counseling role, these professionals empower students to overcome challenges, explore career opportunities, and prepare for a brighter future.

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