Educational, Vocational, and School Counselors Overview
Typically educational, vocational and school counselors need a masters degree to attain a license though education and training requirements vary by state. Job opportunities are expected to be favorable as the number of counseling program graduates will be less than the number of job openings. Prospective educational, vocational and school counselors should be respectful, trustworthy and confidence as well as possess a strong desire to help others.
Nature of the Work for Educational, Vocational, and School Counselors
Educational, vocational and school counselors offer a variety of support services. Even though these workers focus on counseling in schools or workplaces, they may be challenged with adults, adolescents, children or families with many issues including school problems, career counseling, trauma, employment and disability needs, addition and mental health disorders. To provide appropriate support and counseling, these professionals must be able to recognize a variety of issues.
Educational, vocational and school counselors provide career, educational, social and personal counseling to individuals and groups. In schools, they help all levels of students from elementary school to postsecondary education. Educational, vocational and school counselors help students develop realistic career and academic goals by working with them to determine and evaluate talents, interests, personalities and abilities. A variety of methods including counseling sessions, interviews, aptitude and interest assessment tests help educational, vocational and school counselors evaluate and advise their students. Some may also run career education programs or work in career information centers. In addition, educational, vocational and school counselors must be an advocate for students, working with other organizations and individuals to ensure the appropriate academic, social, career and personal development of kids and youth. They may also help students who have special needs such as social or academic development challenges.
At the elementary school level, counselors may provide services in small groups, classroom settings or on an individual level. In this setting, educational, vocational and school counselors may talk to parents and teachers and observe classroom time or play time in order to identify problems, special needs or strengths. They determine whether or note curriculum addresses developmental and academic needs of students by conferring with teachers and administrators. At the elementary school level, educational, vocational and school counselors do less academic and vocational counseling than at the high school level.
High school counselors work with students on college planning including admission requirements, college majors, financial aid, trade or technical schools, entrance exams and apprenticeship programs. These educational, vocational and school counselors must also help students with interviewing skills, resume writing techniques and other job search skills. Those focused on college career planning and placement must help students or alumni with job hunting and career development.
At all levels educational, vocational and school counselors help students deal with problems ranging from social to behavioral to personal. Developmental and preventative counseling are emphasized so that educational, vocational and school counselors can help students in their social, academic and personal growth. They also help students with life skills so they can tackle problems on their own before their get worse. Some educational, vocational and school counselors provide special services such as conflict resolution or drug and alcohol prevention programs. Also, they need to watch out for and identify family issues or domestic abuses cases that could impact a student’s development.
Educational, vocational and school counselors may provide services to entire classes, small groups or individuals. In order to help develop and implement the best strategies for student success, educational, vocational and school counselors must work with a variety of individuals including teachers, school administrators, school psychologists, social workers, medical professionals and parents.
Career counselors, also known as employment counselors or vocational counselors, work outside the school setting providing career counseling and helping individuals make career decisions. These educational, vocational and school counselors evaluate and determine work history, skills, straining, education, interests and personality traits of their clients. Achievement or aptitude tests may be used to help the process. Some vocational counselors also provide job-search assistance from boosting interviewing skills to finding and applying for jobs. These workers are also often called upon to support individuals dealing with career transition, workplace stress or job loss.
Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Educational, Vocational, and School Counselors
To become a licensed educational, vocational and school counselor, a masters degree is usually required, though the education and training requirements vary by specialty and state. Those interested in a counseling career should determine what requirements will apply by checking with state and local governments, national voluntary certification organizations and prospective employers.
Colleges and universities typically offer counselor education programs in psychology, human services and education departments. Educational, vocational and school counselors can expect courses in elementary or secondary school counseling, college student affairs, education, career counseling and more. Often courses are grouped into segments such as counseling techniques, career development, group work, assessment, research and program evaluation, social and cultural diversity, human growth and development and professional ethics and identity. Forty-eight to 60 hours of graduate study are usually required for accredited masters degree programs, including a supervised clinical internship in counseling. Some entry-level counselors go through on-the-job training and some employers offer educational, vocational and school counselors tuition assistance or time off for graduate school. To maintain licenses and certifications, many educational, vocational and school counselors participate in workshops, personal studies and graduate students.
State, specialty and work setting determine licensure requirements. However most states require a masters degree and many require educational, vocational and school counselors to hold a state school counseling certification along with some graduate coursework completed. Other states require a license, which usually requires educational, vocational and school counselors to complete continuing education credits. For educational, vocational and school counselors working in public schools, some states require both teaching and counseling certifications along with some teaching experience.
Educational, vocational and school counselors working outside of schools will likely need some form of counselor licensure, but again requirements vary. Vocational counselors at college career centers may not need a license even though one working in a private practice may need one.
Prospective educational, vocational and school counselors should be trustworthy, confident, respectful and want to help others. Skills working both on a team and independently are important. Educational, vocational and school counselors must also follow the code of ethics as directed by their license or certification. Because they’ll be dealing with an array of problems and people, they may experience stress and should have high emotional and physical energy.
The National Board for Certified Counselors offer an elective general practice credential of National Certified Counselor. While this is different form state exams, some states allow those who pass to be exempt from the sate certification exam. Specialty certifications in school counseling are also offered. Other certifications in particular specialties are offered by other counseling organizations. Even though certification is usually voluntary, it can improve job prospects.
Advancements for educational, vocational and school counselors include directors, supervisors of counseling, guidance or pupil personnel services. They can also become counseling psychologists, school administrators or counselor educators with additional graduate studies. Other educational, vocational and school counselors can find work with a state’s department of education.
Top 10 Most Popular Counselor Education/School Counseling and Guidance Services Schools
1. Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, Arizona)
2. University of West Alabama (Livingston, Alabama)
3. Wilmington University (New Castle, Delaware)
4. Cambridge College, Cambridge (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
5. National University (La Jolla, California)
6. California State University, Northridge (Northridge, California)
7. Oakland University (Rochester, Michigan)
8. Marshall University, Huntington (Huntington, West Virginia)
9. University of La Verne (La Verne, California)
10. Long Island University, C W Post (Greenvale, New York)
Most Popular Online Counselor Education/School Counseling and Guidance Services Schools
Employment and Job Outlook for Educational, Vocational, and School Counselors
Number of People in Profession
Changing Employment (2008-2018)
Employment is projected to grow faster than average (increase 14 - 19%).
Job Opportunities & Competition
Good or favorable job opportunities. Job openings compared with job seekers may be in rough balance.
Educational, vocational and school counselors held roughly 251,050 jobs. More and more counselors are self-employed working in group practices or private practices. This is in part due to the improved opinion of counselors as effective and well-trained professionals in addition to laws allowing counselors to be paid through insurance companies for their services.
Employment for educational, vocational and school counselors is expected to grow faster than average—about 14 percent. As more workers go through multiple career and job changes more vocational counselors will be in demand, especially as awareness grows for career counseling services. In schools, elementary schools are now required to employ counselors and the responsibilities of educational counselors are also expanding. They may now be more involved with helping kids deal with preventative and crisis counseling ranging from death and suicide to drug and alcohol abuse. Even though budget constraints will strain the growth of educational, vocational and school counselors, schools and governments realize their value in a student’s academic success. So, federal subsidies and grants may put in place to help offset budget constraints, helping to maintain student-to-counselor ratios.
Earnings and Salary for Educational, Vocational, and School Counselors
Educational, vocational and school counselors earn median annual wages of $52,550. The highest 10 percent earn about $84,080, the lowest 10 percent earn under $31,140 and the middle 50 percent earn between $40,260 and $67,160. To boost income, educational, vocational and school counselors can add summer hours in the school system or other jobs. Overall the highest earnings typically go to those who are employed in group practices or are self-employed with well-established practices. Broken down by the industries employing the largest number of educational, vocational and school counselors, annual salaries are as follows:
Individual and family services: $37,420
Vocational rehabilitation services $39,710
Colleges, universities, and professional schools: $49,050
Junior colleges: $56,130
Elementary and secondary schools: $61,190
Annual Salary for Educational, Vocational, and School Counselors
On average, Educational, Vocational, and School Counselors earn $52,550 per year.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook