News and Announcements

How to Become a School Counselor

Across the nation, school counselors serve as essential figures in K-12 education. They provide comprehensive support to students, extending beyond academics to encompass their social, emotional, and personal development. During this formative time in students' lives this holistic approach is valuable, helping students navigate personal and academic challenges. 

Although the road to becoming a school counselor is different for everyone, a passion for helping young students is shared by all in the profession. Ideal candidates possess strong interpersonal skills, including active listening and empathy, building trust and work effectively with students, parents, and educators. Ultimately, those driven by a desire to positively impact young lives will find fulfillment in the rewarding field of school counseling.

“I started as an education major, but I switched to Child Development and taught preschool after graduation. After a couple years, I felt I needed to shift my path. I was seeing so many young kids struggling with emotions and home life issues, and I knew I wanted to support them more. After some research I landed on School Counseling,” said Michelle Laux, MEd '18.

What exactly do school counselors do?

According to the American School Counseling Association, school counselors are highly educated, professionally certified individuals who provide comprehensive support through a range of counseling services for students' academic, social, and emotional well-being.

Academic Counseling

School counselors assist students in navigating their academic journey, guiding them in course selection, study skills development, and college planning. They may also work with teachers and parents to develop personalized intervention plans for students struggling academically.

Social/Emotional Counseling

School counselors provide individual and group counseling to address students' social and emotional needs. They offer strategies for building healthy relationships and resolving conflicts and help students develop healthy coping mechanisms for stress, anxiety, and depression.

Career Counseling

School counselors guide students in exploring career options, assessing their interests and skills, and developing career goals. They provide information on different occupations, assist with resume and cover letter writing, and offer support during the job search process.

Crisis Counseling

In times of crisis, school counselors provide immediate support to students, helping them cope with trauma and grief. They collaborate with crisis response teams and provide ongoing counseling to help students recover from traumatic events.

Advocacy and Prevention

School counselors advocate for students' rights and well-being, ensuring they have access to the resources and support they need. They also engage in preventive measures, developing programs and workshops to promote mental health, prevent bullying, and foster a positive school climate.

School counselor’s unique opportunities in the field

While the core responsibilities of a school counselor remain the same, the daily realities can differ greatly depending on various factors, like individual initiative, specific school needs, and available resources. Each counselor's journey becomes unique, filled with diverse opportunities and impactful initiatives they bring to life.

“When I took my position with my district, I was able to build my role from the ground up,” said Laux. “I have been able to organize school wide kindness events, drug-use prevention Red Ribbon Week classroom competitions, run many small groups, go into classrooms once a month for all grade levels K-4, and facilitate a Ruling Our Experience (ROX) program at both schools! I hope at the end of the day, I have made a positive impact, even for just one student.”

Laux's journey shows how a school counselor's role can be shaped by their own passion and initiative, leading to a career filled with diverse opportunities and meaningful impact. This highlights the potential for every counselor to make a lasting difference in students' lives through their dedication.

Steps to becoming a certified school counselor

Becoming a school counselor typically involves completing specific educational requirements and gaining relevant experience. While the exact steps might vary depending on the region or state, here is a general guide on how to become a school counselor:

Earn a bachelor's degree:
Start by obtaining a bachelor's degree in psychology, education, counseling, or a related field. This provides a foundational understanding of human behavior and development, which is crucial for a career in school counseling.

Gain experience:
Seek opportunities to gain experience working with children or adolescents, such as volunteering at schools, community centers, or youth programs. This experience can help you develop essential interpersonal and communication skills necessary for working as a school counselor.

Pursue a Master's degree in school counseling:
Most states and educational institutions require school counselors to hold a master's degree in school counseling or a related field. Enroll in a program accredited by reputable organizations such as the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) to ensure the quality and recognition of your degree. Ohio University offers both on-campus and online options.

Complete a practicum or internship:
Many master's programs in school counseling include a supervised practicum or internship experience, providing hands-on training in a school setting. This practical experience allows you to apply your theoretical knowledge and develop essential counseling skills under the guidance of experienced professionals.

Obtain licensure or certification:
After completing your education and required supervised experience, you'll need to obtain the necessary state licensure or certification to practice as a school counselor. Each state has its own specific requirements, which may include passing a state-recognized exam and fulfilling certain continuing education obligations.

Apply for school counseling positions:
Once you have met all the educational and licensure requirements, you can start applying for school counseling positions at various educational institutions. Keep in mind that the specific requirements and job responsibilities might vary depending on the school district or institution.

Continuing education:
Stay updated with the latest research, counseling techniques, and educational practices by participating in continuing education courses and professional development opportunities. This ongoing commitment to learning is essential for maintaining your licensure and providing the best support for students.

The 1st CACREP-Accredited online masters in school counseling program in Ohio

OHIO's online master's in school counseling program provides a comprehensive approach that examines the intricacies of school counseling, equipping you with the skills to address academic, career, and personal challenges.

“I decided to pursue my education at Ohio University. I had a wonderful practicum and internship and am so thankful for the people I met along the way. I started as one of the Elementary Counselors with my current district. I am very happy with where I ended up. I think it was meant to be,” said Laux.

Through our online education degree, you will gain hands-on experience through a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship, seamlessly blending classroom learning with real-world engagement. OHIO’s dedicated faculty and strong advising approach ensure personalized mentorship throughout your journey, empowering you to confidently step into the role of a school counselor.

Balancing work and school with online master's program is a great way to reach your professional goals. That is why OHIO's accredited online master's program caters to your busy schedules by offering an asynchronous format. You can access course materials and complete assignments at your own convenience ensuring your online education degree fits seamlessly into your busy schedule.

Learn more about our vibrant community of aspiring school counselors and take the first step on a transformative journey with Ohio University's online master's in school counseling program. Prepare to make a meaningful impact on the lives of students and shape the future of school counseling.

January 12, 2024
Staff reports