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School Counselor Job Description

Arjun Kulkarni
Looking for a job as a school counselor? Here's what a counselor actually does, so get an idea and see if the job appeals to you.
The job of a school counselor is one which is quite coveted and well respected. He/she is someone who works at the school, and while he/she may or may not be involved in teaching, they provide guidance to the students in various other aspects of life.

Being a School Counselor

They may or may not be involved in actually teaching the students. Textbook knowledge apart, there are other things that the school students need for their overall development.
Students need guidance. Students need someone who can help them understand themselves, their likes and dislikes, and what they would like to do in the future. To put it in a nutshell, a school counselor is in charge of ensuring the overall psychological growth of the children in the school. School counselors work on multiple fronts -
  • Future Planning: Not all high school students know what they want to do in the future. These professionals guide students on career opportunities that would suit their skill sets, and how to go about doing those. They give advice on career development and how to get to college and which colleges are good for their preferred field for higher education.
  • Counseling: Perhaps this is the most challenging aspect of this job. There are kids in school who have behavioral issues, and it is their job to help them resolve their problems. They hold sessions with 'problem children', as identified by the teachers at school, and try to understand and help in overcoming their problems.
  • Mediation: The third basic part of a school counselor's job is mediation. Often in school there are fights between two students or between a teacher and the student. The school counselor comes into the picture here, and tries to mediate between the two warring parties.
  • Guidance: And the last part counselor's job is to provide guidance to the school, its policies, and try to improve the way the school is run. He examines the policy of the school he works for, and the students' response to it. Depending on whether he thinks it is a healthy policy or not, he can guide the school to improve.

What It Takes to Be One

So now that you know the job description, the next question that comes up is how you would become one. The less important qualifications which a school want from their school counselor may vary, but the basic ones remain the same.
The job description clearly tells you that he has to deal with a lot of minds, so a bachelor's degree in psychology or child psychology can be particularly beneficial to help you land the job. Apart from this, completing a course specifically designed to teach a prospective school counselor may also be an added advantage.
Add to that, he/she also needs several personal qualities, such as patience and the intelligence to deal with a particular situation well. A school counselor also needs to be calm and a good listener.

Salary and Scope

The salary varies a lot depending on the school that employs him and the years of experience. A better experienced counselor in a better school stands to earn a lot more than the others. The median salary is said to be around USD 49,100, while the ones with a greater experience, boasted of salaries in excess of USD 82,000 annually.
Is there any scope for advancement? Not much, in the same job. You can at the most become the senior student counselor or the principal of the school. On the other hand, you can shift to a better, more reputed school and get a better pay. The job openings in school counseling are plenty. So yes, it is a very good career opportunity.
A school counselor holds a very responsible job in the school, and hence, it can be a very demanding job. They work longer hours than teachers as their counseling sessions happen mostly before or after classes. But it most certainly will be a rewarding job!