What Does a Guidance Counselor Do? Career, Salary, & Job Descriptions

You will agree with me that most students come to school with a lot of problems & challenges. And most times the school refers them to a guidance counselor.

So, are you among the parents and students who aren’t sure what exactly their Guidance Counselor does? Here you will find full detail of a School Guidance Counselor career, basic salary, and job descriptions.

Recently, School Guidance Counselors offer a range of services and they have become a crucial part of the education system. In fact, there are more than 200,000 Guidance Counselors working in schools in the US currently.

Though they may not be teaching in the classroom, School Guidance Counselors have as much impact on students as teachers. And sometimes they offer help that teachers may not provide.

Hence, if you are interested in learning more about what a school guidance counselor does in their day-to-day activities in high school and elementary school.

This article will specifically enhance your knowledge of what a School Guidance Counselor does. It will also educate you on the career of a school guidance counselor, their basic salary, and job descriptions.

What is a Guidance Counselor

Basically, a school guidance counselor is part of the school teaching team and they provide valuable assistance to students. By helping them with their school goals, social and personal development, and professional development. They work in public or private elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and colleges.

Also, School counselors help students overcome problems that hinder learning, well-being, and development. Most importantly, they help students make the best projects and decisions about their lives, their education, and their future work.

Furthermore, School guidance counselors help students develop and reach their full potential to live meaningful, happy, and rewarding lives. Above all, they often organize development-friendly groups and prevention-focused activities to meet the needs of the students and the goals of the school.

What Does a School Guidance Counselor Do

As we stated earlier, school guidance counselors exist in schools basically to help students. In general, school guidance counselors help students develop the academic and social skills necessary to succeed in school and later in life.

Most importantly, school guidance counselors play an important role in the success of their studies. In addition to meeting the social and emotional needs of students, they also help them explore their interests and possible career options. Of course, these responsibilities vary according to the age of the students.

Practically, all student builds trust in someone and it further inspires confidence, but the counselor must also know when it is necessary to violate this confidentiality. When students discuss crimes, abuse or neglect, counselors must report this information to the appropriate authorities.

School Guidance Counselors should also report suspected crimes, abuse, and neglect when their professional judgment makes them believe that these events have occurred or are ongoing.

Above all, students should trust their advisors. Without trust, students will not provide guidance counselors with the information they need to properly apply their professional knowledge.

As you can see, school guidance counselors have many responsibilities to improve the lives of their students, in and out of school.

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School Guidance Counselor Career

Basically, a school guidance counselor is someone who helps students throughout their studies. And this may include advice in the areas of academic success, career options or personal and social development. In particular, these professionals work with students of all ages, from elementary schools to high school.

Hence, choosing a career in counseling such as a school guidance counselor will do you a great deal.

Above all, it is the responsibility of a school guidance counselor to help students define academic goals and assess their strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes. School guidance counselors of all levels also help students deal with personal, social and behavioral problems.

Basically, school guidance counselors play a vital role in strengthening the new identity of their students. By working with teachers, parents, and administrators, they create an environment that maximizes personal and academic performance.

Typical university counseling involves an assessment of the current situation in the school, especially the programs and the individual. The objectives are to create an environment in which each student can regain self-confidence and believe in their skills as an apprentice.

How Can I Become a School Guidance Counselor?

University is a very difficult time for most students. It is a period of personal exploration, a period of searching for one’s identity and, physiologically, a period of rapid growth. Together, these two attributes of the middle-aged student create a lot of insecurity and fear. That is when a School Guidance Counselor comes in handy.

Hence, for those seeking information on how to become a school guidance counselor, the first step is to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Psychology and children’s communication are courses that will help future counselors develop the skills necessary to enter the profession.

Most school board programs also include a period of fieldwork, which allows students to gain practical experience in the field. Many states require a master’s degree to become a school guidance counselor.

This program may require the approval of the state board of education, including specific courses and / or specific accreditations. Be sure to check with your state board for detailed requirements.

Typical steps to become a school guidance counselor are:

What Education or Certification Will I Need to Become a School Counselor?

Obtaining a four-year university bachelor’s degree is the first step in your training to become a school guidance counselor. Basically, a bachelor’s degree in education, psychology or sociology will better prepare you for your graduate work, but if you have already obtained a bachelor’s degree in another field, that is equally acceptable.

Most of the time, the degree you will take is a Master in Counseling Education, which will take two to three years to obtain. This degree offers a combination of learning and practical experience in the classroom.

After receiving your master’s degree, two years of practical experience are generally required to obtain a license to advise the state. Some states also require a teaching certificate.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the licensing requirements for trustees differ from state to state. While some states require teacher certification in addition to a bachelor’s degree, others only require certification as an educational advisor in public schools (www.bls.gov). After graduating, you can apply for certification in teaching.

The American Association of School Counselors (ASCA) provides information about school counseling needs in each state (www.schoolcounselor.org). Check with your state board of education to find out what you will need to work as a school guidance counselor.

School Guidance Counselor Jobs

School guidance counselors have many tasks, some of which are specific to the age of their students. Elementary school counselors, for example, work closely with school administrators and parents to assess the needs and abilities of students.

Basically, they do not perform as many professional assessments and goals as a high school counselor. While High school guidance counselors help students in the areas of professional development, elective class options, and college selection.

Above all, School Guidance Counselors as a whole can complete a large list of assignments. Including advising students with discipline problems, providing suggestions to teachers, helping students plan their education and interpreting a student’s record.

Typically, School Guidance Counselors work in a variety of school settings. These may include elementary schools, middle colleges, colleges, high schools or postsecondary institutions. They work daily with students and school administrators. This can be done individually or in a classroom.

Most counselors use tools such as aptitude tests, interviews, and counseling sessions to evaluate their students. They can also work closely with students with special needs or developmental problems. Typically, authorized guidance counselors have a master’s degree. However, this requirement varies from state to state.

According to statistics from the United States Labor Office, the job outlook and employment of school guidance counselors are expected to increase by 8% between 2014 and 2024.

School Guidance Counselor Duties & Responsibilities

The responsibilities of a school guidance counselor may vary according to the age and grade level of the student. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides some typical tasks that a school guidance counselor can perform:

  • Evaluate students’ skills and interests through skills assessments, interviews, and individual planning.
  • Identify problems that affect school performance, such as low-class attendance rates
  • Help students understand and overcome their social or behavioral problems through orientation lessons and classroom counseling.
  • Advise individuals and small groups according to the needs of the students and the school.
  • Work with students to develop skills such as organizational and time management skills and effective study habits.
  • Help students create a plan to achieve their academic and professional goals.
  • Collaborate with teachers, administrators, and parents to help students succeed.
  • Teach students and school staff about specific topics, such as bullying, addiction, and college or graduate degree planning
  • Keep records as necessary
  • Report possible cases of neglect or abuse and refer students and parents to resources outside of school for additional support.
Essential Role of Elementary School Guidance Counselors

In truth, the elementary school guidance counselor plays an important role in the lives of young and highly influenced students. Simultaneously, elementary school counselors seek to identify and meet the educational, personal and social needs of students. With the sole aim of reducing or eliminating learning delays and promoting academic success.

The theory is that the knowledge, skills, and strategies that elementary students transmit to educators, teachers and staff regarding education, personal development and social skills help them integrate more into the workplace later in life

An elementary school counselor generally performs the following functions:

  • They encourage young students to adopt a more positive attitude towards school and the learning process.
  • Equally, they promote good relationships with peers, parents, teachers and other important people in the child’s life.
  • Also, they improve the communication skills of young students and helps them successfully develop effective decision-making strategies.
  • In addition, they address development tasks, personal concerns, crises, peer conflicts, dysfunctional domestic environments, health problems, and physical disabilities, and offers useful solutions

More specifically, the Middle School Counselor performs the following tasks:

  • Counseling: Provide professional assistance and support to a student or a small group of students in times of transition, increased stress, critical changes or other situations that may be detrimental to the student’s success.
  • Consultation: share strategies for student success with parents, teachers, other educators, and community organizations.
  • Evaluation and Advice: Evaluation of students’ abilities, interests realization to help them make decisions about their future.

The middle school guidance counselors offer support in areas including:

  • Peer relationships
  • Decision-making skills
  • Communication and conflict resolution
  • Fostering self-awareness, acceptance, and diversity
  • Teaching time management and organizational skills
  • Crisis intervention for students and parents
  • Academic Planning
  • Individual and Group Counseling
Role of High School Guidance Counselors

In high schools, the guidance counselor’s role is to work with students to achieve their goals after high school, in addition to solving all social and academic problems. These guidance counselors help select the high school classes that prepare students for their graduate projects.

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As a school counselor, you can work in different school settings, from elementary to senior. Public, local and private schools, colleges, universities, and vocational schools, as well as vocational schools, require a consulting presence.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for Labor Outlook 2012-2013, the increase in enrollment in primary, middle and secondary schools is expected to increase the demand for school counselors in these classes.

School Guidance Counselor Salary

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a school counselor in 2018 was $56,310 per year ($27.07 per hour). However, the top ten percent earned $86,610 and the last ten percent earned $31,960 a year.

Counselors who work in high schools typically earn more, as do counselors with a master’s degree or higher. An advanced degree can increase an annual salary of $10,000.

Here is a range of school guidance counselor salaries reported by varying sources:

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics: $56,310
  • Salary.com: $49,258 – $65,569
  • Glassdoor.com: $50,000

School Guidance Counselor FAQs

What is the role of the guidance counselor?

The role of guidance counselors in schools is to work with students and parents to help guide students’ academic, behavioral and social growth. School guidance counselors in this field work in elementary, middle and high schools.

What is a guidance counselor in college?

In college, guidance counselors are called “college counselor”. Hence, you can refer to them as professionals who work in admissions, career services, academic counseling, or placement counseling. Or those who provide specialized psychological services in academic settings (typically a college or high school).

How do you become a guidance counselor?

The typical steps to become a school guidance counselor are:

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in counseling, psychology, or a related subject.
2. Earn a master’s degree in school counseling or a closely related subject.
3. Complete a school counseling internship or other qualifying clinical experience, depending on your state’s requirements.
4. Pass your state’s required exams for school counselors.
5. Apply for your counselor’s license.
6. Begin applying for open school counselor jobs.

Are school guidance counselors in demand?

Yes. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment for school guidance counselors will grow at a faster rate than other occupations between now and 2026, with opportunities increasing by 11 percent.

How much does a guidance counselor make a year?

The median annual salary for a school guidance counselor ranges from $49,258 to $65,569. Guidance Counselors who work in high schools typically earn more, as do counselors with a master’s degree or higher. An advanced degree can increase an annual salary by $10,000.

What other jobs can a school counselor do

In record, there are other jobs a School Guidance Counselor can do. And it include:

1. School and Career Counselor
2. School Psychologist
3. Postsecondary Teacher
4. Marriage and Family Therapist
5. Substance Abuse Counselor

Do school counselors make more money than teachers?

In general, school counselors earn a higher salary when compared to the average earnings of K-12 teachers. Middle and high school teachers earn a bit more, at $53,550 and $55,150. Both elementary and secondary school counselors, however, take in $61,190 on average, according to the BLS.

What is the role of a guidance counselor in an elementary school?

The primary duty of an elementary school guidance counselor is to ensure that students have access to the resources necessary for academic and social development. They also ensure that curricula and programs address the developmental and educational needs of students.

What is the main role of a school guidance counselor?

Basically, School guidance counselors assist students at all levels, from elementary school to college. They act as advocates for students’ well-being, and as valuable resources for their educational advancement. Equally, they help students process their problems and plan goals and action. They also act as a mediator between students and teachers.

Do I Need a License to be a School Guidance Counselor?

Yes you do need a licenses to become a school guidance counselor. Specifically, the licensing requirements for trustees differ from state to state, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

What types of courses do I take to become a school counselor?

The courses required will vary depending on the school, but most school counseling programs will require coursework in fostering academic development, group and individual counseling, as well as sociology and psychology.

Do school counselors get summers off?

Depending on the school, some counselors might get their summers off. Check with the individual school to find out more.


A school guidance counselor provides students with academic, professional and career advice, as well as personal and social advice. This can be achieved through group or individual guidance counseling.

School Guidance Counselors also assist in the annual academic planning of each student. This full guide will provide more information on what the school guidance counselor does, how to become a school guidance counselor and the salary and job perspectives of the profession.


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