School Counselors: Is Getting A Master’s Degree Going to Help?

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Considering higher education is always a big decision. Pursuing a Master’s degree is time-consuming and expensive – it’s not something anyone should rush into. Thus, it’s important to make sure a Master’s degree is actually an effective way of reaching your career goals.

If you currently serve within the education system and are interested in exploring a role as a school counselor, virtually every state requires either a Master’s degree or equivalent. Is the prospect of pursuing school counseling worth taking on the rigors of higher education? Let’s explore the potential outcomes of earning a Master’s degree and pursuing a career in school counseling.

Effects of Getting a Master’s Degree and Pursuing School Counseling

Though programs can vary between institutions and might cater to specific requirements or include certain emphases by state or school system, earning any online Masters in school counseling will enable you to obtain a school counseling position. But how could that actually shape and affect your professional experience?

Depending on your current role, earning a Master’s degree in school counseling can increase your salary potential as an education professional. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for a school counselor in 2020 was $58,120 and the salary you can expect may increase depending on your school system and available opportunities in your area.

Earning your school counseling degree will increase your knowledge considerably and better equip you to tackle the challenges of serving students. Master’s degrees in school counseling will train you in a number of highly critical subject areas. As an example, the curriculum for the MSED in School Counseling program at St. Bonaventure University includes courses on Abnormal Psychology, Group Counseling, Multicultural Counseling, Management of School Counseling Programs, Interventions for School Counseling, internship requirements, and more. The coursework required in a master’s-level school counseling program will significantly heighten your aptitudes and knowledge base and help you work more effectively with students.

school counselor

Studying school counseling also affords you the opportunity to experience a different professional role than you’d otherwise have access to. Many educational professionals that enter school counseling come from teaching roles. Classroom instruction requires a very different skill set than that of a school counselor. School counselors often work with students one-on-one or in small groups. They cover a wide range of responsibilities and care for students in ways that are often impractical or impossible for teachers.

Some individuals that initially pursue teaching and don’t find it to their liking discover that school counseling provides a much better fit career-wise and affords them a chance to take on a much more satisfying and sustainable role.

Finally, pursuing a career in school counseling can allow you to help more students. School counselors’ responsibilities often cover a wide subset of students within a given school or school system. While classroom teachers and other roles within education may have a very limited number of students with whom they come into regular contact, school counselors can often influence large percentages of the students within your institution in a given school year.

If your desire is to impact a larger number of students than you do in your current role, earning a Master’s degree in school counseling could create that opportunity for you much more effectively than other career routes.

The Role of a School Counselor

School counselors hold a variety of responsibilities in their line of work. One main role that school counselors fill for their student body is ensuring that each student’s class schedule sets them up for success. A school counselor will effectively help students within their care navigate prerequisites, graduation requirements, and any other pertinent tasks that students must take into consideration. This is vital to making sure students reach the end of their educational pathway having accomplished everything they needed to in order to progress to their next stage. This could be a college education, a career, or similar.

However, school counselors handle more than academic pathways. They are also responsible for positively affecting the emotional, social, and behavioral health of their students. School counselors may assist students who are experiencing a wide variety of problems. Whether a student is being bullied by other students; facing unrest or danger at home; having trouble handling their academic load; or experiencing depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, or a host of other mental health stresses or illnesses, they may seek assistance and guidance from a school counselor. The variety of challenges a school counselor may help students face is incredibly wide.

These are not the full extent of the roles a school counselor may play. In addition to those above, school counselors might serve teachers by presenting on relevant topics in classrooms, provide counseling services or assistance to the parents or family members of enrolled students, and more. School counselors are highly skilled professionals that apply their knowledge in diverse ways and settings.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in school counseling, consider whether the characteristics above are in line with your career goals. If school counseling looks like a promising route for your skills and interests, earning a Master’s degree can be a vital first step in entering a satisfying career path.

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Kate Staples is a career coach from Canada. She specializes in personal development, leadership, and mentoring students, recent graduates, and career changers to create a new career path and define their work skills, values and preferences. She is a blogger, speaker, and long-distance runner.

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