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School Counselors

School counselors provide educational, social, personal and career counseling to individuals and groups. They help students evaluate their interests, talents and abilities in order to develop academic and career goals. They work in elementary, middle and high schools. An increasing emphasis has been given to college readiness counseling.

Some sample job titles are guidance counselor, educational counselor, academic advisor and academic counselor.

High school counselors help students and their parents prepare for post-secondary education and/or trade schools. They assist families locate pertinent information regarding financial aid and college and trade school entrance requirements. They offer students advice on preparing for college entrance related tests and help them acquire recommendation letters. High school counselors spend a lot of time monitoring students' progress toward graduation and being prepared for college or trade schools.

Counselors employed in elementary schools primarily work with students that have physical handicaps or disrupt classrooms. They are also involved in academic and college readiness and social and personal competencies.

Educational counselors work with teachers, parents, school administrators, school psychologists and others to determine and implement strategies that will help students succeed. They utilize personal interviews, counseling sessions, aptitude tests and various career assessment methods. They also help students whose behavior is interfering with academic achievements.

Guidance counselors collaborate with teachers and other school personnel to develop and implement a plan which addresses the behavioral problems of students. They also work with family members and provide advice in areas such as career development, college readiness, study skills, parenting skills, school-home transitions and child and adolescent development.

They also establish student groups to deal with common issues such as divorce. School counselors also deal with issues such as multiculturalism, diversity and school safety. Educational counselors also collaborate with outside groups that help students with academics. They may also coordinate state programs that help students.


  • Collaborate with teachers and parents to resolve students' academic problems, behavioral problems and other issues
  • Provide counseling on personal, social and behavioral issues
  • Help prepare students for college and/or trade schools
  • Maintain records on students
  • Provide crisis intervention to students if difficult situations happen at schools
  • Have meetings with parents to discuss their children's progress
  • Observe and evaluate students' academic performance, social development, physical health and behavior

Job Characteristics

Educational counselors often work more hours at school than teachers since they often spend time meeting with students and parents before and after school. Guidance counselors typically have their own office. Some school counselors work part-time.

They need to be able to deal with all types of people. They should have patience and have a desire to help people. Good communication and interpersonal skills are important for the occupation.

Employment Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected employment growth of 14 percent from 2008 to 2018 for educational, vocational and school counselors, which is faster than average for all occupations. In addition, the median annual salary for educational, vocational and school counselors in 2008 was $51,050.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

Many school counselors are certified educators that have a master's degree in school counseling that includes specific school counseling graduate training. Some school counselors have a bachelor's degree in education, psychology, or the liberal arts. Many counselors study topics such as group dynamics, counseling, statistics, and human growth and development.

The Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs provides accreditation to counselor education programs. These programs include an internship that is supervised by a school counseling faculty member and a certified school counselor site supervisor.

Some states require school counselors to have a state school counseling certification along with completing some graduate coursework. Most require school counselors to complete a master's degree. Certification varies by state. In some states, school counselors have to be licensed. In some states, school counselors need counseling and teaching certificates along with teaching experience.

National certification of school counselors is provided by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the National Board for Certified Counselors.


Major Employers

The primary employers are public schools and private schools.

Schools for Educational Counselors are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Educational Counselors Skills

Below are the skills needed to be educational counselors according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Active Listening4.384.12
Social Perceptiveness4.255.12
Reading Comprehension4.124.25
Service Orientation4.124

Educational Counselors Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be educational counselors according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Oral Expression4.254.5
Oral Comprehension4.124.5
Problem Sensitivity4.124.38
Written Comprehension4.124.5
Written Expression44.38

Educational Counselors Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be educational counselors according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Therapy and Counseling4.855.96
Education and Training3.994.63
English Language3.984.72

Educational Counselors Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being educational counselors according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Assisting and Caring for Others4.545.52
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships4.545.91
Getting Information4.525.03
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates4.485.65
Making Decisions and Solving Problems4.335.42

Educational Counselors Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being educational counselors according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work StyleImportance
Concern for Others4.95
Social Orientation4.76

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Educational Counselors

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Educational Counselors jobs , as of 2019

Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim12,210$79,980
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach7,200$50,890
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington6,390$64,800
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land5,760$63,960
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell5,520$60,720
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward3,710$78,220

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to educational counselors

Source : 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,; O*NET® 24.3 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor,

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Educational Counselors.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.