If you’re interested in becoming a school counselor, rest assured that there is a vast availability of jobs waiting for you in the field. School counselors make an essential contribution to the academic and emotional well being of students and significantly impact the educational system as a whole. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education (2013-2014), there is an average of one school counselor available per 491 students in the United States1. In some states, there are as much as over 600 students per one school counselor, even though the recommended ratio of student to counselor is 250-to-11.
If these numbers sound overwhelming to you, keep in mind that not all students will require the services of a school counselor. Some students will see their school counselor one time (or never) throughout their high school years, while other students will require constant support and intervention.
The student to counselor statistics not only indicate that there is a near constant demand for the hiring of school counselors to serve the varying needs of students, it also ensures that you won’t be sitting behind a desk playing solitaire all day. Jobs for school counselors are dynamic, fast-paced, and satisfying because you are working directly with children and adolescents and not only addressing their current issues and concerns, but also serving as a means for prevention of worsening issues. The prevention, detection, and direct and timely intervention of emotional and behavioral concerns among young people are key in order to avoid any future, more serious issues. Think of the tremendous impact you will have as a school counselor on not only in a school setting, but also on a community as a whole.
As a school counselor, you will often be the “first line of treatment” for students, meaning that you will often be the first professional to discover any emotional or behavioral issues that exist and you will be there to ensure that students receive the appropriate attention, care, and outside referrals if necessary. In other words, your work will actually make a difference in the lives of so many students. Children and teens spend most of their day in the school environment and you will be there, as a direct part of their daily triumphs and achievements, as well as struggles and sorrows.
The educational and professional requirements for school counselors vary from state to state, but most jurisdictions require that you earn a Master’s degree in school counseling plus a state license or certification. School counselors are available to students from elementary school through high school and address student concerns such as behavioral/disciplinary problems, depression and anxiety, conflict between peers, bullying, family issues, and preparation for careers or advanced educational opportunities. As a school counselor, you are typically assigned a student caseload and sometimes you can see the same students as often as daily or weekly, depending on the student’s issues and concerns. You will not only serve as a counselor, but also as a mediator, advisor, mentor, leader, and teacher to address the ever-changing needs of today’s students.
1. American School Counselor Association (ASCA). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), “State non-fiscal public elementary/secondary education survey,” 2013-14.