Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a School Counseling Degree Online
The online delivery system for educational programs has brought attention to the widespread availability of masters level degree programs. The diversity of these online programs allows students to choose from a wide range of different specializations, degree requirements, and colleges in general. If you are considering this method as a means for obtaining your degree, there are a few things you should ask yourself prior to enrolling.
Preparing yourself prior to even reviewing available online schools can give you a more discriminative point of view during the search process. If you know what you are looking for, the choice can come easier than if you had not done the previous research. Take a look at some of the questions you should ask yourself below. Considering these topics are vital during the degree seeking process.
Is the program accredited?
In school counseling, it is necessary for you to choose a program that has proper accreditation. Accreditation ensures that the degree program teaches the right material and has been approved as a prerequisite for licensure in each state. In the online domain, some schools can provide educational programs that focus on school counseling but do not have the proper accreditation. This can lead to denial when applying for a license to practice, which can be devastating for upcoming professionals.
What is the length of the program?
Some master’s level programs claim that they can be completed in 1-2 years, while others take anywhere from 2-4 years, including the supervised experience requirement. Depending on what you are looking for, either of these options could be the right choice. If you are working full-time currently, an expedited degree program may not be the best option for you.
What does my state require for licensure?
From state to state, the requirements for licensure can vary greatly. It is always important to research what your state expects for licensure, before even choosing an online degree program. Some states could have very specific requirements for masters degree programs, certain accreditation, or a sequence of courses that are needed prior to application for licensure.
School Counselor Requirements
If you want to be a school counselor, there are specific requirements set forth for you to complete prior to becoming one. First and foremost, you should have the desire to help school children with their journey through education, life, and a healthy future. Educationally, there are specific steps required to get you on track with what is required to become licensed as a school counselor.
The entire process begins with the gaining of a Bachelor’s in Counseling degree, or a related field, from an accredited university. You may find psychology, education, or counseling a proper focus for your undergraduate education. In most states, the minimum requirement to become a school counselor is a masters level degree.
The Masters in School Counseling admissions requirements typically recommend that students earn an undergraduate degree in a related discipline prior to applying. In some online schools, students may also be required to complete the GRE examination or submit proof of a 3.0 or higher GPA in order to be approved for entry. The specific admissions requirements for the masters program can be different depending on the university, so this is another factor to consider when choosing which university to apply to.
Consider a more specific focus area
Throughout the course of the masters program, students will be introduced into various counseling techniques and practices that can sharpen their skills within the educational system. Most school counselor programs are generalized in focus, but students may also have the option of pursuing a specialty such as elementary or secondary education.
Coursework tends to focus on the need for adequate student interviewing, career planning, and mental health outreach. In addition to the masters requirement, students must also take part in a supervised work experience. During this time, skills can be obtained through working directly underneath a licensed school counselor in a real-world setting.
State counselor requirements
These experiences are usually between 1-2 years for most state requirements. Upon completion of the supervised requirement, graduates can then submit an application to complete the board exam in school counseling. The board examination for school counselors consists of questions that focus on the practice of counseling, educational ethics and requirements, and psychological principles associated with children of school age. Successful completion of this requirement can open up availability for licensure and years of successful practice in the future.
School Counselor Salary and Career Outlook
Deciding which college to attend and what route to take are very important steps in pursuing a career as a school counselor. Some students spend more time preparing for the right college than they do researching what the degree can actually do for them.
Considering what is to come after graduation is an important step in the collegiate planning process. There are numerous degree programs available in different domains that provide little opportunity to students after they have obtained them. Counseling fields and education are some of the most prominent in today’s society, making this a great field to obtain a degree.
Since you may be putting a lot of effort in to determining how to pursue this future, you may also want to know what is going to be available for you once you have graduated and are ready to work in the field. Whether you are interested in working in public or private schools, there may be opportunities within both sectors.
School counselors are an important piece of the educational system and provide assistance to students from different backgrounds throughout the length of their educational experience. School counseling is a career field that provides an important service to educational systems and the children that attend, so it is likely to remain an important part of schools for years to come.
Related Career Potential Growth
Growth is an important component of a career field. When you are choosing a degree program, you do not want to invest valuable time and money into a degree that shows no potential to flourish in the future. School counseling works hand in hand with teaching in school systems. Counselors provide the emotional, developmental, and social support that children need to properly access their full potential. This field has been recognized as an important aspect of the educational experience, making it a growing field for upcoming professionals.
In most careers that involve working with youth, the population growth and need for services can have a dramatic impact on how many counselors are needed and the demand for counseling services. As schools take in more students and areas of the U.S. become more populated, the need for school counselors may likely rise.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of school counseling could see a growth of about 8% through the year 2024 (BLS;2015). This type of growth estimate indicates that this field shows promise for the future of education and can provide a stable career choice for upcoming professionals.
In addition to the growth of this particular field, another aspect that students consider when choosing this path is their potential earnings. Determining how much you can make while working in this field can help you better prepare for choosing the right path for your career. Just like every other field, what you earn can depend on many things, including the area in which you plan to practice.
Earnings can be relative to different factors, such as the location in which a counselor works, the experience that one has as a professional, and the demand for services within that area. With these factors being considered, it is safe to say that the salary for this field varies depending on the individual.
The average salary for school counselors within the United States is $54,560 per year (BLS;2015).
Common Courses in an Online Master’s Degree in School Counseling
During the course of your degree program, you may find that the curriculum includes some broad aspects of counseling as well as some specific topics that are relevant to working with school-age children. The purpose of this degree program is to include aspects of counseling that range from the history and development of counseling theories to specific intervention methods with children.
It is important that each of these topics is taught to students within this program, so that they can provide the best service to students in the field. Our experts researched some of the top online schools in school counseling to provide you with a list of common courses that you may see throughout your experience. Take a look at the list below.
Counseling Theories for School Counselors
Counseling Theories takes a look at counseling from a historical perspective and gradually moves into some of the current counseling theories and techniques used today. Students may learn to scrutinize between the need for different theories and how to apply them in diverse situations.
Students in this course may look into developmental phases of individuals from conception to old age. The knowledge gained throughout this course can assist students in gaining a better understanding of how children learn, comprehend, and respond during the educational process.
Child and Adolescent Counseling
This course seeks to teach students different theories and techniques that are specific to working with children and adolescents. Intervention practices, counseling processes, and empathy can be explored through this course, as well as special attention to cognition, emotion, and behavioral aspects of children.
Crisis, Trauma, and Disaster Response
This course can teach students how to properly intervene with children that have been affected by crisis. Students can learn techniques for performing crisis assessment, trauma intervention, and advocacy. Response to disaster events may also be included throughout this course.
Common Duties of a School Counselor
School counselors can be found at any level of the educational realm. In elementary schools, counselors work hard to help children build their understanding of individualism and help them to gain recognition of their future. In secondary and high schools, school counselors may provide more social support to students that may be dealing with relationships, peer pressure, or college planning. At all levels of the educational system, counselors may assist with particular duties that can help students manage the balance of educational and personal lives.
Day to Day Responsibilities of a School Counselor
Counselors can assist students in identifying their strengths and weaknesses through individual evaluations. Using the data received from these assessments, counselors can help students find methods for betterment within their education experience and potentially improve their classroom performance.
Counselors may also work to identify problematic situations that occur school-wide and implement change programs that affect all students within their system. For students that are having difficulties emotionally or behaviorally, counselors can intervene with specific interventions that focus on the needs of the individual student.
On a daily basis, school counselors collaborate with other teachers, parents, students, and even outside agencies to ensure that children are getting the best possible care regardless of their real-life circumstances.
While there are specific duties that are reserved for counselors, such as assisting with college planning and student awareness, there is exhaustive list of duties for professionals within this career field. In different schools, it is possible for professionals to have very different experiences. Although the experience may be different depending on where you work, you can rest assured that you will work hard to ensure that the children entrusted to you can receive the support they need to get through their educational experience successfully.
Final Thoughts On The Degree Path
Choosing school counseling as a lifelong career can be an exciting and fulfilling experience. The requirements to being a part of this great field are fairly common for counseling careers and require dedication from students involved. If you are passionate about working with children and have the drive to help them get through the early stages of their educational lives smoothly, this is definitely a field to consider.
Most states require that you complete the minimum master’s level requirement as well as some experience prior to becoming licensed. In an online setting, you could even continue working while enrolled in the program. As you take the steps towards choosing the right degree program, rest assured that obtaining a higher degree can potentially provide you with more opportunity and more job satisfaction in your future.