How to become a school counselor

School counselors play an important role in the social, psychological and academic lives of students. They work with students, parents, teachers and administrators to design successful learning and social environments and to resolve a large range of student-related issues.

Gain as much experience in counseling as possible early on by participating in volunteer counseling, phone hotlines, camp counseling, peer counseling and/or teaching.

Demonstrate a professional commitment to school counseling by earning an undergraduate degree in education, sociology or psychology.

Continue to develop a professional history that relates to school counseling: Consider earning a secondary teaching credential because school counselors are primarily employed in the middle and secondary schools.

Prepare for and take required exams such as the GRE or Miller Analogy as part of the application process for an advanced degree.

Apply to at least 10 graduate programs to ensure that you are accepted to one of your choice. Send out copies of official college transcripts and contact academic and professional references for letters of recommendation.

Earn a master's or doctoral degree in educational psychology or child psychology, complete any required supervised counseling internships and take any required state or federal certification exams.

Research thoroughly the school districts you want to work in. Do this early on so that you can complete any particular exams or certification required by individual states.


Research graduate programs in school counseling to find the one that best suits your academic and professional goals. For example, if you are interested in working in urban education, you would be wise to study and complete your counseling internship at an urban college or university.


Although rewarding work, school counseling is not without stress. Be prepared to interact with many different personalities, given that you work with not only students but also teachers, administrators and parents.

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