How to Become a College Guidance Counselor

HBEU05Working as a guidance counselor at any level can be both inspiring and challenging. It is a career that is significantly different than teaching, though those who work in this field are also very much dedicated to aiding students in achieving their educational and career goals. As a college guidance counselor, the educational requirements remain the same. However, these positions are harder to obtain, requiring only the very best from job candidates. To learn how to become a college guidance counselor, consider the following steps.

What Does a College Guidance Counselor Do?
Master's Degree
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Working as a college guidance counselor is much like working at the high school or elementary level, except that the topics, challenges, and needs of the student are significantly more demanding. Here, most professionals work with students to help them to map out their course of education so they can work in a certain field or obtain a specific degree. These individuals often help find internships and aid students who are struggling to find new opportunities. Working in this field can be very rewarding, but to find positions in this field individuals will need to work to gain experience.

What Schools Are Looking For?

Every college or university sets the terms for applicants working in positions like this. In order to become a college guidance counselor, most colleges require a focus on the following types of subjects for applicants, states the American School Counselor Association:

  • Growth and development
  • Group counseling
  • Individual counseling
  • Testing and appraisal
  • Research and program evaluation
  • Professional orientation
  • Theories
  • Supervised practicum and internship

When learning how to become a professional in this field, then, individuals should begin choosing courses early on that provide a focus for these specific needs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a component of the US Labor Department, there is a demand for career counselors. From the 10-year period of 2010 to 2020, a 19 percent rate of growth is expected in this field. Considering this, there is definitely a reason to work in this field.

Steps to Becoming a College Guidance Counselor

To become a college guidance counselor, consider the following steps. Keep in mind that this is a long progression, but some counselors find that taking online courses can help them to achieve their educational goals sooner.

  • Obtain a bachelor’s degree in school counseling. Most states do not require these individuals to have a formal educational license. However, this is very much encouraged for those people who want to be a counselor at the college level. Having both a school counseling and education degree may be helpful.
  • Work towards a master’s degree. To be a school counselor at any level, most states and schools require individuals to have a master’s degree in the field. The concentration here is often on psychology, though other options are possible. Many master’s degree requirements may be completed online as well.
  • Work towards completion of a doctoral degree. Earning a PhD in this field is also ideal for those who wish to work in these harder-to-find positions.

Many students will need to obtain a certificate to work in a public school as a college guidance counselor. However, to work in a private institution, most will need to gain experience as well. Working in admissions may help, as will having a formal educational degree. However, obtaining a formal school counseling degree is nearly mandatory for anyone who wishes to work in this field. It may also be beneficial to work in the high school level to gain that necessary experience before moving towards college counseling. Over time, these professionals will be able to gain outstanding resources and skills that allow them to work closely with college-level students to help them in achieving their goals.

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