Personnel Improvement Center
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School Counselor

School Counselors work with students, teachers, parents, and administrators to help ensure that students' educational, vocational, and emotional needs are being met. School counselors provide crisis intervention services and individual and group counseling to help all students develop their educational, social, career, and personal strengths and become responsible and productive citizens.

School Counselor Shortages by State: Want to see how your state stacks up? The American School Counselor Association created a great fact sheet! Check it out!

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Nature of Work:

  • School counselors are often problem solvers. They are professionally trained educators who help students, parents, and teachers solve problems
  • School counselors work with all students, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. They also work closely with principals, teachers, health professionals, and parents

Education Required:

School counselors are required to have a master's degree or equivalent in counseling, educational psychology or counseling psychology in all states. All states also require school counselors to be licensed by the state (requirements vary), but national certification is voluntary. To be nationally certified by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC), a counselor must have a master's degree in counseling from an accredited institution, have a minimum of two years of supervised professional counseling experience, and have passed the NBCC exam.

Personal Qualities:

School counselors have a strong desire to help students with educational, emotional and vocational needs. They are patient, resourceful and inspire respect, trust and confidence. School counselors possess leadership skills, excellent listening skills and are able to work both independently and as part of a team.

Job Outlook and Advancement:

Employment of all counselors is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2005. Advancement opportunities are available in larger schools and school systems as directors or supervisors. Some school psychologists and special education administrators began their careers as counselors.

How to Prepare for a Career:

Aspiring school counselors should take high school classes in English, psychology, biology, and communications. In school, volunteer to be a peer helper to a counselor, tutor a student or be on the student peer mediation team. Work in a recreation program with special needs students, day camp, Special Olympics or other children's activities.

Resource Information:

American Counseling Association
5999 Stevenson Avenue
Alexandria, Virginia 22304-3300
(800)-347-6647
(703)-823-9800
(703)-823-0252 Fax

American School Counselor Association
801 North Fairfax Street, Suite 310
Alexandria, VA 22314
(800)-306-4722
(703)-683-2722
(703)-683-1619 Fax


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The National Center to Improve the Recruitment and Retention of Qualified Personnel for Children with Disabilities (Personnel Improvement Center). A Cooperative Agreement, H325C080001, between the US Department of Education and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education. Project Officer: Maryann McDermott
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NASDSE | 225 Reinekers Lane, Suite 420, Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone 703.519.3800 | Fax 703.519.3808
NASDSE