School guidance counselor salary & career outlook

school guidance counselor

by Maryalene LaPonsie | May 25, 2011

From elementary schools to universities, school guidance counselors provide advice and mentoring on everything from pre-teen relationships to career choices. Depending on the education level in which they are employed, counselors may work to help students improve social skills, evaluate abilities or identify career goals. Individuals interested in this field must maintain a high level of personal integrity and should have a strong desire to see others succeed.

School guidance counselor salary: 2009 statistics

As with other careers, school guidance counselor salaries can vary depending on your region, education and years of experience. In 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the mean annual wage for educational, vocational and school counselors was $55,030.

Guidance counselors working in elementary and secondary schools earned more than those working at the post-secondary level, according to the BLS. Counselors working in colleges and universities earned a mean annual wage of $49,050 compared to $61,190 for school guidance counselors working with younger students.

In addition to varying by employer, average salaries can also depend upon your region. The BLS reports the following top paying states for educational, vocational and school counselors in 2009:

    1. New Jersey: $71,600
    2. Alaska: $63,720
    3. Maryland: $63,560
    4. Rhode Island: $62,370
    5. New York: $61,020

      Along with income, the cost-of-living of a particular area will impact your financial quality of life. The following areas have favorable mean yearly salaries relative to the cost of living, with salary data provided by the BLS and ACCRA state cost-of-living rankings from the Missouri Economic Research Information Center:

      1. Lincoln, Nebraska: $71,770, ranks number 6 in cost-of-living affordability
      2. Port St. Lucie, Florida $71,160, ranks number 25 in cost-of-living affordability
      3. Las Cruces, New Mexico $70,630, ranks number 29 in cost-of-living affordability

      School guidance counselor training: online options

      Education requirements for school guidance counselors can vary by state. Some may require that counselors be licensed while others may mandate that school guidance counselors also hold a teaching certificate. In addition, while counselors in most states must have a master's degree, the BLS indicates that other states only require that some graduate coursework be completed.

      As distance education options become increasingly popular, it may be possible to find school guidance counselor training online. However, before enrolling in any program, it is best to check with your state licensing department to ensure it meets any required education guidelines.

      Job outlook for school guidance counselors

      Despite cutbacks in education budgets across the country, the BLS estimates that job opportunities for school guidance counselors will grow more rapidly than the average for other occupations. States require primary schools to provide counseling services, and these services are often available in most online elementary schools as well. Counselors at all levels can expect to see their role expand as career and vocational mentoring becomes more important. Graduates of school guidance counselor schools can expect to see demand for their occupation grow by 14 percent from 2008 to 2018.

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