A guidance counseling degree can help students who want to work in schools or with students but not necessarily in the classrooms. School guidance counselors help students with academic questions, career choices, and college requirements and options. At times, school guidance counselors also provide a bridge for community services. In some cases, guidance counseling may appeal to current or former teachers as well, offering a way to stay in education when choosing to leave the classroom.
Students may seek a more general bachelor's degree in counseling, but the more common degrees for guidance counseling are at the master's and doctoral level. At the bachelor's degree level, most of the coursework is foundational and will cover areas such as stress management counseling, crisis intervention, and addiction counseling but will not allow for specialization. Even so, candidates with a bachelor's degree in counseling may be able to enter the work force assisting guidance counselors and working while considering a graduate degree. At the master's level, students are able to specialize in the areas needed for school guidance counseling, to include educational psychology, the juvenile justice system, and social behaviors. A guidance counseling degree at the master's level will allow for becoming a licensed guidance counselor in any state.
How to Find the Top Guidance Counseling Degree Programs
When looking for the best guidance counseling degree programs in a traditional setting, one of the top ranking colleges offering guidance counseling degrees is Columbia University in New York, NY. This Ivy League option offers a Master of Education degree in psychological counseling with specialization in school counseling and the possibility of dual specialization in school and mental health. Other options are the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL and the University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI. The former offers a dual Master's of Education in counselor education and ranks second in the country for school counseling and guidance programs. The latter offers both a Master's and PhD in Counseling Psychology and ranks sixth for counseling programs in the country.
When looking at the best online guidance counseling degree programs, top ranked and fully accredited choices include the University of Phoenix and Grand Canyon University. The University of Phoenix offers a general Bachelor's of Education degrees and a Master's degree program in School Counseling. Grand Canyon University offers a Master's in Professional Counseling.
Careers and Salaries for Guidance Counseling Degree Holders
Completing a Master's program in counseling allows for becoming a licensed school counselor in any state in the country. Candidates for guidance counseling degree careers are qualified to work as school counselors in elementary, middle, and high schools, performing tasks such as helping to assess student's interests and abilities, ensuring that proper educational assistance is available for children with different needs, and helping students transition to careers and/or college. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for school counselor positions is expected to increase 19 percent by the year 2020, and the median guidance counseling degree salary is about $54,130.
At the PhD level, career options for guidance counseling degree holders include college professor, education consultant, or even school administrator. Salary and job growth for education consultants is comparable to that of school counselors. Projected job growth for college professors and school administrators is slightly less at about 17 percent. Median salaries are higher in both instances, with school administrators earning an average of $90,000 per year and college professors earning an average of $62,050. Job satisfaction for guidance counseling degree positions is generally high as well, making this field attractive for intangible as well as tangible reasons.
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