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How To Build a Career in Guidance Counseling?

Updated: January 11, 2024 | Published: October 28, 2021

Updated: January 11, 2024

Published: October 28, 2021

Things School Guidance Counselors Should Be Telling Every Student featured image

Working in education doesn’t always require becoming a teacher or professor. Guidance counseling takes place in public and private institutions for students in grades K-12. If you’re interested in making a difference in the lives of children and young adults, then guidance counseling jobs can provide that opportunity.

Let’s take a look at what guidance and counseling mean, as well as the education required to become a guidance counsellor.

Source: Pexels

What is a Guidance Counsellor?

A guidance counsellor works in schools to provide help to both students and parents. Guidance counsellors can impact students as much (and sometimes even more) than teachers. They have one-on-one time with students that may open the door to deeper conversations and vulnerability regarding a student’s mental health and needs.

What Does a Guidance Counsellor Do?

Guidance counseling jobs fulfill the role of helping students understand educational goals and provide support so students can achieve these goals. They also help students to prepare themselves for life outside of school.

From kindergarten to twelfth grade, guidance counsellors may work with students to resolve academic, personal, career, or social challenges and issues. They may work with students individually, in groups, or workshop settings.

Some of the responsibilities of guidance counsellors include:

  • Working with students to develop key skills like time management 
  • Teaching students how to write resumes and apply for jobs
  • Aiding teachers to manage social issues affecting students in their classroom
  • Assisting students to understand their strengths and choose a college major or career accordingly
  • Meeting with teachers to discuss student’s academic performance

How to Become a Guidance Counsellor

To become a guidance counsellor, certain academic and licensing requirements are required to practice.

Here’s a look at the steps it takes to become a guidance counsellor:


Firstly, guidance counsellors must obtain a bachelor’s degree. They generally choose to do so in a subject like education or psychology that can help to prepare them for a master’s in guidance and counseling.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, guidance counsellors are typically required in most states to have a master’s degree in school counseling or a related field, such as education. A doctorate may be required for those who want to become a program director or obtain management positions.


As part of their master’s degree, guidance counsellors usually take part in an internship that involves one or two years of training and experience. As part of training, interns work under a guidance counsellor’s supervision and attend counseling sessions and meetings. In general, a prospective guidance counsellor must fulfill 600 hours of clinical experience to complete their internship in most cases.


To practice, guidance counsellors need to earn a state license. Each state in America has its own requirements, but a master’s degree and practical experience are required to obtain licensure in most states. In some states, graduates must pass an exam as part of their application for licensure.

Where Do Guidance Counsellors Work?

In most instances, guidance counsellors work in school settings in an office. Since they work in schools, they benefit from taking off summer breaks and school holidays. Some guidance counsellors may work during the summertime for students who are enrolled in summer school.

Guidance counsellors can work at private schools, public schools, vocational and trade schools, and even universities.

Guidance Counseling Jobs and Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the career outlook for school and career counsellors and advisors is expected to grow much faster than average at 11% over the forecast period of 2020-2030. Per the source, this position earned an average of $58,120 per year in 2020.

Source: Pexels

Necessary Skills for Guidance Counsellors

To be successful as a guidance counsellor, there are many interpersonal and business skills that must be honed. These include:


Counsellors work with students, teachers, administrators, and parents. To be able to support people, they have to be active listeners and empathetic communicators. They learn how to spot and react to cues in conversation. They may also be required to present in public and give talks to audiences of all sizes.

Emotional intelligence

Aside from understanding students’ academic challenges, they listen to students’ personal issues and help them to resolve them. As such, they have to have a level of emotional intelligence that can interpret, respond, and resolve problems with their students.


Students, teachers, and parents approach guidance counsellors with a range of problems. In turn, guidance counsellors need to develop the steps to address each respective challenge. Across different grade levels, the challenges typically vary, so it is up to a guidance counsellor to learn from their experience and training to best support students.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to jobs in guidance counseling, those who fulfill the requirements for the job have the opportunity to work in a school setting across different grade levels. Guidance counsellors provide support to students, parents, and teachers.

In helping students achieve their academic and professional goals, guidance counsellors play a large part in making a difference in students’ lives.