How Do I Become a High School Counselor?

If you enjoy working with young adults, resolve problems resourcefully and show compassion for others, you might wonder how to become a high school counselor. High school counselors are the professionals who help adolescents meet their high school academic goals, plan for future educational and career paths, and cope with life problems. Both public and private high schools have a need for counselors to help their students be as successful as possible.

Like school counselors at other grade levels, high school counselors work to help students achieve their academic goals and develop socially and behaviorally. They help students cope with problems in their lives, both inside and outside of school, through individual and group counseling. High school counselors support school-wide awareness campaigns to prevent bullying and drug abuse. They work with students who are struggling with their grades and help them develop ways to study, stay organized and manage their time more effectively. When necessary, high school counselors collaborate with parents and teachers to address students’ problem behaviors.

Because high school counselors work with young adults, they spend much more time planning for the future than counselors at the middle school or elementary school grade level. For many students, this means focusing on preparing for and applying to colleges. For other students, high school counselors might discuss vocational schools, technical schools, apprenticeships and other ways of preparing for a desired career path. High school counselors often help students look for scholarships, grants and other forms of financial aid to help them pay for their college educations.

The first step to becoming a high school counselor is attending a college or university. Aspiring high school counselors can begin preparing for their careers by earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology, social work or a related subject. Next, they must earn a master’s degree in school counseling. These specialized programs teach candidates techniques for counseling students one-on-one and in groups and strategies for improving academic performance. Aspiring high school counselors also learn productive ways to communicate with parents and teachers to help the student grow academically and develop socially and behaviorally. During their graduate education, candidates will gain hands-on experience in the field by completing an internship. After they earn their master’s degrees, aspiring high school counselors must complete state requirements to acquire a license, certification, or endorsement.

At public and private schools, counselors earn a median annual salary of $60,000, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. For many high school counselors, the job itself is rewarding. Helping adolescents cope with problems, prepare for careers and get into the colleges of their dreams provides personal satisfaction for those candidates who really have a passion for helping people. If you are a good listener, communicate well with others and like the challenge of working with teenagers, knowing how to become a high school counselor could be your first step toward a fulfilling new career making a difference in the lives of young people.

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