Approximately 324,500 school and career counselors are employed in the United States. Counselors work for elementary, middle, and high schools all across the country. They work in both public and private schools. Though counselors are considered important to a school system, not every school has its own counselor on staff. Some counselors have offices in more than one school; for example, they may work for both a middle school and a high school, or they may work for other schools in the district.
While some students do enroll in master's programs right after finishing their undergraduate programs, most experts advise that you get at least a few years of teaching experience under your belt before you pursue a master's degree in counselor education. Some people work for several years as teachers before considering a degree in school counseling. College professors and advisers should be able to direct you to sources of counseling positions. Some state boards of education maintain job lines, as do many public school districts. These jobs are also advertised in the newspaper.
The ACA lists job openings across the country in its publication Counseling Today, and on its Web site. The American School Counselor Association offers professional development programs to help members expand skills, knowledge, and networking opportunities, as well as a job site for members.
Schools with more than one counselor on the staff offer the opportunity for staff members to advance to school guidance director. The title may be misleading, however, as one does not usually "direct" the program; rather, one coordinates it. The school principal is usually the actual director of the program. Most advancement within the guidance counselor position will be in the form of wage increases.
Some counselors with many years of experience may be appointed as guidance coordinator or director for a city or county school system. Their duties usually include program development.
For the most part, counselors are promoted to positions outside of counseling itself, such as to administration or supervisory jobs. Some counselors obtain advanced degrees and become college or university teachers.
Tips for Entry
The American Counseling Association offers job listings at its Web site, http://www.counseling.org/careers/aca-career-central. Additionally, its site contains a variety of useful resources on developing a resume, preparing for and acing interviews, and other topics.
Read publications such as Counseling Today, Professional School Counseling, and ASCA School Counselor to learn more about industry trends.
Join ASCA SCENE (http://scene.schoolcounselor.org), the American School Counselor Association’s online professional networking site.
Join professional associations to access training and networking opportunities, industry publications, and employment opportunities.
Attend the annual conference of the American School Counselor Association to network and interview for jobs.