21st Century Careers: Guidance Counselor

By Nadira Benjamin ('22)

Photo courtesy of Wix

Guidance counselors are the ones who work behind the scenes when students are maturing academically, behaviorally, and socially. They use their skills and knowledge to properly guide students in the right direction. In order to become a guidance counselor, a person has to complete several different requirements. According to an article in psychology.org, the most popular majors associated with becoming a guidance counselor is psychology, sociology, and counseling.


The preferred degree level as of 2018 is a Master’s Degree. The minimum degree level changes every few years as the needed requirements for this job are modified. Stanford University is one of the best schools in the country for psychology. Ivy Leagues are normally the more expensive schools which have an average tuition of $51,486.


Along with the required college degree, a counselor-in-training is expected to do on the job learning too. This is usually done through an internship with working guidance counselors.


Guidance counselors must have a series of skills to be successful in this career.


South Brunswick High School guidance counselor Ms. Toronica Milligan said that in order to be successful in this occupation, the person needs to have “the personal gift” of being compassionate and understanding. Another skill needed is to be able to listen and communicate.


According to the Bureau Of Labor Statistics section on school counselors, a guidance counselor must be able to cooperate with their fellow staff members along with parents of their students. Guidance counselors are responsible for creating academic and behavioral plans to help students. Since students share personal aspects of their life, counselors are expected to report neglect or abuse along with providing emotional and social support.


This profession is projected to increase by 13 percent from 2016 to 2026 which is faster than the average occupation. The average salary for guidance counselors, who work in public schools, is $62,990. The work hours are depended on the schools hours. The majority of job responsibilities vary based on the academic level of the school.


Ms. Milligan said, “Elementary is where you will be in classrooms doing activities. Then you have the times you work in groups. For each level, your role is a little different. In middle school, there are some groups. [and] a lot of one-on-ones. There is also a lot of paperwork going to the state with report cards and testing.”


Elementary school guidance counselors focus on developing behavioral skills and good academic habits. They might teach lessons in class for the younger students versus having the students come to their office. In the middle schools, counselors help make the environment of the school more friendly for academic and social success. High school is when counselors work with students to choose a career and future academic path. They help and give advice when it comes to colleges, what financial aid is and what they want to do later in life. Guidance counselors are key components in order to have a successful and safe school environment.

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