School counselors are essential members of the education team. They provide students with valuable support in all areas of their lives including academic achievement, personal development, and long-term career success. School counselors have a positive impact on society by ensuring that students are happy, productive, and able to transition into well-adjusted adults. For those reasons, the majority of school counselors have high job satisfaction and get a great sense of enjoyment and fulfillment from their working life. Training to become a school counselor is hard work and many people are unsure of how to become a school counselor. However, there are dozens of fantastic reasons to explore how to become a school counselor and consider a career in school counseling.
To inspire you, here are the top eight reasons to train as a school counselor.
1. Perform meaningful work
One of the major reasons why people become school counselors is because they want to help young people. School counselors provide valuable support to students on a practical, mental, and emotional level. They assist students through their school careers and help them transition into successful, contributing members of society. Along with helping to boost academic performance within schools, counselors also provide crucial emotional support and help students overcome various challenges.
Sadly, mental health issues are on the rise in young people and research shows that one in six children has a mental health issue. Some of the most common mental health conditions seen in children include anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. Many mental health issues can be overcome with the correct treatment. However, failing to provide support can cause symptoms to worsen and mental illness can have a dramatic impact on a student’s academic performance and overall development. School counselors are available to support students and help them overcome any difficulties they face.
2. Enjoy high job satisfaction
As discussed, school counselors perform meaningful work that can have a powerful impact on the lives and futures of children. For that reason, those working in the field often report high levels of job satisfaction when compared to people in other occupations. A recent study by careerexplorer.com found that most school counselors enjoy their working environment and rate their career happiness above the national average. This puts school counselors in the top 33 percent of careers when it comes to job satisfaction.
Having high job satisfaction can also have a positive effect on your physical health and overall wellbeing. Keep in mind that you are likely to be working well into your later years, so it’s vital that you gain enjoyment from your job role. Anyone seeking high job satisfaction should explore how to become a school counselor. There are plenty of useful guides offering advice on how to become a school counselor and enjoy a successful career in counseling.
3. Have a variety of career options
Another great benefit of working as a school counselor is that you will have a wide variety of career options. These will become apparent when you are exploring how to become a school counselor. Licensed school counselors can choose to work in various school settings, from elementary schools all the way to college level. This means that you can find a job role that will suit your specific skills and interests. For instance, you may prefer to work in a high school or college campus if you want to support older students.
According to advice on Counselor-License.com, some schools hire one counselor to support all of the school’s students, whereas others employ a large counseling or guidance team. This means you can choose to work alone or as part of a team depending on your preferred working style. When you are researching how to become a school counselor, make sure that you compare the various working environments of a school counselor and consider which setting would be best matched to you.
4. Join a growing field
Schools are increasingly recognizing the various benefits that specialist counselors can bring. This has resulted in a growing demand for licensed counselors within both public and private school settings. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that 26,800 new jobs will be added to the industry by 2029. This represents a projected growth of eight percent which is far higher than the average seen across all other occupations. Increasing school enrollment is thought to further boost the need for licensed counselors within schools. For those reasons, school counselors have fantastic career prospects and newly qualified counselors typically have access to plenty of job opportunities. With that in mind, more and more graduates are considering a career in school counseling and exploring how to become a school counselor. Now is an excellent time to join the rewarding and expanding field of school counseling.
5. Enjoy job security
Job security is a big concern for most people. Losing your job unexpectedly can have a major impact on your quality of life and cause significant amounts of stress. You may find that you are unable to maintain your standards of living and might even lose your home if you’re unable to make mortgage or rent payments, for example. With that in mind, job security is an extremely attractive perk for most employees. As discussed, school counselors are in high demand which means that they enjoy enviable job security.
The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommends that the ideal school counselor to student ratio is 250-to-1. Currently, there is a huge shortage of licensed school counselors and demand is growing yearly as school enrollments increase. For that reason, newly qualified school counselors, or those who choose to leave their jobs, rarely struggle to find suitable employment elsewhere. The turnover rate is also relatively low when compared to other occupations. Exploring how to become a school counselor can be a fantastic way to ensure job security and achieve a good career outlook.
6. Earn qualifications online
The traditional route to becoming a licensed school counselor is long and requires several years of study. This makes the qualification unattainable for those with commitments preventing them from enrolling in a classroom-based course. Fortunately, advancements in technology mean that there is now a fantastic selection of online courses that offer flexible distance learning.
Aspiring counselors can now earn a bachelor’s degree, a master’s, and even a Ph.D. from the comfort of their home. The biggest advantage of distance learning is that you have more control over your learning. You can study at a time that is convenient for you and fit learning tasks and assessments around your schedule. This makes it ideal for those who are working or caring for a family. When researching how to become a school counselor, make sure that you refer to online counseling programs and consider whether they could be beneficial.
7. Achieve a healthy work-life balance
A further benefit of becoming a school counselor is that you should be able to enjoy a healthy work-life balance. The majority of school counselors are employed full-time and work during school hours. You may be required to meet with teachers or parents outside of these hours, but you will work regular school hours the majority of the time This means that you will have plenty of time to spend with your family and enjoy activities and hobbies outside of work.
Like other educational professionals, school counselors also benefit from fantastic vacation allowances. Most school counselors have no or minimal work during the school holidays, meaning they can enjoy time with children or go on long vacations, for example. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is fundamental to good health and wellbeing. Spending too much time at work can result in high levels of stress and burnout. Work-related stress can also increase your risk of developing medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, school counselors tend to find it fairly easy to maintain a work-life balance and often report low levels of stress in the workplace. School counselors can improve their work-life balance by setting clear boundaries, avoiding taking work home, developing good time management skills, and recognizing the signs of burnout.
8. Have a comfortable salary
According to research by the BLS, school counselors earn an average of $57,040 per year. The highest 10 percent of school counselors earnt more than $96,090. This may not be as high as the salary offered in other occupations, but it is enough to support a good quality of life. On top of a good salary, school counselors enjoy multiple job perks such as those mentioned above. This includes excellent job prospects and job security, along with high job satisfaction and workplace happiness.
How to become a school counselor
If the above has convinced you that a career as a school counselor is right for you, then your next action should be to find out how to become a school counselor. Here is a useful step-by-step guide on how to become a school counselor.
Step 1: Complete a bachelor’s degree
When researching how to become a school counselor, you’ll notice that the first step is to complete a bachelor’s degree. Most aspiring school counselors enroll in a degree in counseling, although you may choose to study a related topic like psychology or social sciences. Most bachelor degrees take four years to complete on a full-time basis.
Step 2: Enrol on a Master’s program
When you have been awarded your bachelor’s degree, you will then need to enroll in a master’s program. At this stage, most graduates choose to specialize in their chosen field of counseling. The guides on how to become a school counselor recommend enrolling in a school counseling master’s program. This will teach you the specialist skills and expertise needed to provide efficient counseling services to children and young people in a school setting.
Master’s programs typically take one year of full-time study to complete. However, this may be extended to two years if your program requires an internship placement. Your college tutor should be able to provide you with guidance on the various master’s programs available along with further tips on how to become a school counselor.
Step 3: Gain the required experience
Most master’s programs require student counselors to complete an internship in a school under the supervision of a licensed school counselor. Often, this experience is required before you are able to apply for a license to practice. Even when it is not a requirement, it is a good idea to build your work experience through placements and internship opportunities. These will allow you to gain real-world experience, build your professional network, and enhance your resume. Guide’s on how to become a school counselor will offer more advice on how to gain work experience and secure internships during your training.
Step 4: Apply for a state license
Once you have completed the above steps, you will be able to apply for a license. Each state sets its own requirements, so you must read up on how to become a school counselor and check the license requirements in your state. Some states require graduate counselors to complete a state licensure examination. This will be either the National Counselor Examination (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). Some states require graduates to pass both tests, while others allow you to choose which examination you take. You will be able to seek employment as a school counselor once you have received your state license.
Becoming a school counselor requires hard work and dedication, but for many, it’s worth it! There are dozens of great reasons to train as a school counselor. Learning how to become a school counselor can be confusing at first. Fortunately, there are plenty of useful resources and guides offering advice on how to become a school counselor and secure your ideal role. Take the time to do your own research to discover the career benefits and gain a deeper understanding of how to become a school counselor.