How to become a school counselor

The school counselor plays a vital role in the life of a student right from preschool to the university level. Counselor is a person who uses his skills and experiences in analyzing a student’s potential and area of study suited best for them. The job doesn’t end here but actually starts with analysing the student’s potential and then helping that particular student in understanding his abilities.


Different age groups of students coexist in any educational establishment and a counselor has to deal with all of them. While mentoring students of lower age group is a bit difficult task as they have also to be looked after the social behavior, health and illness, eating habits, way of talking, abusiveness etc., sometimes it becomes an individual job to separately pinpoint every student for his strengths and weaknesses, or to carry out the necessary improvement steps in every individual.


A school typically has a community of students with varying interests, personalities, career goals and academic proficiency. These counselors work with such students to first analyze them and then guiding them to set a realistic or practical careers goal; mentor them over the strategies or qualifications needed for a particular goal and also to initiate acquiring of necessary skills if not possessed by the student.


Starting the career as a school counselor is such an important decision and reflects a sense of responsibility in the person because this job will make him contribute in the growth and development of an entire generation, which will eventually lead to nation’s or society’s all round development. At the same time just deciding to become a counselor is not enough because there are certain qualifications which must be there to make a successful career.


The first and foremost is having a good understanding of child psychology. The mental ability of a nursery student is different from a middle school student which differs from that of a senior level student who has attained maturity. A counselor has to look after each and every aspect which can possibly affect that student’s growth and development. Whatever a child observes in the surrounding and what interpretation comes in the mind are the two major factors of such kind.


Secondly speaking of a middle school student, we are living in a technologically advanced age as compared to our past generations. Evolution of cell phones, internet, computers, gaming devices etc. attract a majority of students for fun and leisure which hampers there routine of study. A counselor needs to be careful about what gadgets are available along with their risks and benefits. Such kinds of students are in a transformation phase of their life, so extreme care should be taken of their habits, social behavior and criminal elements must be inspected.


Last but not the least comes the college going students who have attained a level of maturity and are easier to deal with because they have developed their behavior, academic proficiency, social connections etc. and they are just to be guided for career prospects like what job to prefer or what should be a proper strategy for some particular career goal.


So we have discussed an ample amount of qualities and functions of a good counselor simultaneously and the reader must have started a self-assessment in respect to the ongoing discussion. The qualities mentioned above are more likely to be achieved by personal experience, case studies and an inbuilt instinct for child mentality but the counselor needs to possess some desired academic qualifications also.


A counselor is basically a psychologist who studies various students psychologically and then based on the results of study, guides them towards a career goal. The necessary qualification demands a bachelor’s degree in psychology; counseling or social work followed by a master’s degree in specialized school counseling which is must to work as a counselor in most of the schools and colleges.


The master’s degree actually grooms an individual according to the requirements of the job. Better understanding of school students, their habits, potential assessment etc. along with necessary skills to act as a career guide also. Sometimes the counselors are continuing their education with job as it regularly updates them with latest trends and case studies which proves out to be of great help in solving specific problems.


After completing the required educational qualifications, the counselor now heads for training part which is an equally important part in career development, be it any field of specification. In this training, an individual is entitled to work under an experienced counselor and is expected to observe the proceedings or the work in detail and learns the methods and tries to suggest some methods of his own.


Most of the states in the US demand for a license or certification to be eligible for working as a counselor; however each one has its own set of rules and specifications. The complete details can be obtained from The American School Counselor Association (ASCA). Finally it can be said that a counselor is a person with excellent dynamic personality with strong observing and analyzing skills, along with good communication skills, both oral and written.


A counselor is expected to maintain high professional and ethical standards and ability to work with people of different groups e.g. students, parents, staff members, recruitment agencies etc. to efficiently accomplish the task. At last, there must be some focus on career advancements in this field because every individual thinks of his constant career growth, both in terms of scope and financial aspects.


Starting as a school counselor, a person can grow up to administrator level or become an educator and help new prospective individuals opting for a career in counseling. The salary figures are also good and depend upon the level of work, area of posting and experience of the individual. On a whole, this field is rising with annual 8 % in schools (elementary and middle) and at around 19 % at college level, so choosing a career as a counselor is not a bad idea nowadays.

Author: Johan Bosman

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