“Counselors assist people with personal, family, educational, mental health, and career decisions and problems” (“Counselors” 1). “While helping students plan for college and careers is part of their job, a guidance counselor’s overall function is to talk to students, give advice, listen to problems, help students develop coping skills and learn to become good problem-solvers and decision-makers on their own” (“Guidance Counselors”). Specifically, school counselors play a major role in the social, emotional, and academic development of their students. This profession interests me for two reasons. First of all, I like to talk with people of all types. Second of all, I am always concerned with the feelings of others. The combination of these two qualities of mine is what makes becoming a guidance counselor my goal. Early in the 1920’s, some school systems in such major cities as Boston and New York offered their students vocational guidance. These programs ended during the Depression when money was scarce. It was not until after World War II that guidance departments were formed in schools. This was a result of many reasons. “Students lost their individual identity in the crowds of fellow students” (“Guidance Counselors”) in big city schools. New jobs were created with advances in technology. More students planned to attend college. Parents were unable to help their children in these areas. These and other services had to be provided by trained individuals, the guidance counselors.
Education and Other Requirements
To be a counselor in a school in the state of Pennsylvania, an individual needs to have a Masters Degree and a state certification in their particular level of counseling. For example, one possibility is to have a Masters of Science Degree in Counseling and Human Relations with a certification in School Counseling. The certification may be dual, meaning one certificate for two areas of school counseling–Elementary School and Secondary School. This covers kindergarten through twelfth grade.
A person may be able to get a Masters Degree in Counseling without a related undergraduate (Bachelors) degree. However, extra courses may need to be taken. It is most beneficial if a school counselor has teaching experience which means the Bachelors degree would be in some kind of education.
Following is a list of courses, which may be required for a future school counselor: Guidance Services Group Dynamics Theories of Counseling Methods of Research Counseling for Human Differences Assessment Methods in Guidance Counseling and Consultative Techniques in the School Group Procedures in the School Practicum in Elementary or Secondary Guidance Advanced Practicum (Practicum is when the counselor in training goes into a school and practices what was learned at college, and learns from the employed counselor.) (Handbook 13-16).
The future outlook for employment of school counselors is good. The field is expected to grow because of increasing enrollments, mostly in secondary and post-secondary schools. Counselors are becoming more involved in crises and helping students deal with issues ranging from drug and alcohol abuse to death and suicide. The job growth among counselors may depend on budgetary constraints. If funding is tight, schools prefer to hire new teachers before new counselors because they want to keep the classroom size at an acceptable level.
Salary and Benefits
A counselor is paid according to the teachers’ professional contract. This is negotiated every two to five years. A typical public school counselor will earn from $25,000 to $80,000 per year. The salary schedule reflects a person’s experience and the level of education attained. The steps are unique to the particular district. Education levels may include a Bachelors Degree, a Bachelors Degree plus fifteen credits, a Masters Degree or a Masters Equivalency, a Masters Degree plus fifteen credits, a Masters Degree...
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