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School and Career Counselors

If you have good communication skills, enjoy helping others organize, like to problem-solve and thrive at establishing and maintaining relationships, consider a career as a school or career counselor. You may work with children from kindergarten through high school and adults from college through retirement.

The median salary for school and career counselors is $55,410 per year with the field growing at a faster than average rate of 13 percent. Most school counselors are licensed and have a master's degree in school counseling or a related field, so you should prepare for an additional four to six years of school after high school. Career counselors are subject to the guidelines of their employer but are often required to have a master's degree. A career counselor working in private practice may also require a license. If you move due to a PCS, your service branch can now help reimburse licensure and certification costs up to $500. Learn more.

For information on Department of Defense initiatives and the progress made with states regarding licensure, visit the Spouse Licensure Map page on Military OneSource. You can also visit the Military State Policy Source website for information about key issues that affect service members and military families and the state-level efforts being made to address those issues.

School counselors

School counselors assist student populations of varying ages to succeed in school through social and education guidance. Generally, as a school counselor, you could provide the following services to students:

  • Help students overcome social or behavioral problems
  • Assist students in developing organization, time management and study skills
  • Work with students to set academic and career goals and a plan to meet their goals
  • Evaluate student knowledge, skills and abilities through assessments and interviews
  • Partner with teachers, parents and administrators to assist students in succeeding in their endeavors

As an elementary school counselor, you will work with students to develop decision-making and study skills, and assist in determining a child's strengths, special needs or behavior issues.

As a middle school counselor, you will assist students in developing and achieving career and academic goals while learning the strategies they need to succeed academically and socially.

As a high school counselor, you will advise students on academic and career plans and assist them in determining whether work, training or college is the best alternative for meeting their career goals. You may assist them with postsecondary school selection and finding financial aid information.

As a college counselor, you might work in admissions, career services, academic counseling or placement counseling. You will provide individualized attention to a student making important decisions about courses, jobs, financial aid or graduation.

Career counselors

Career counselors work with clients through different stages of their career. As a career counselor, you might find employment with colleges, outplacement firms, corporate and government career centers, and even in private practice. Some of the roles you might find as a career counselor include the following:

  • Working with college students to assist them in choosing a major
  • Assisting students with determining the types of jobs they qualify for based on their degree
  • Supporting people in the workforce with advice about new professions or creating a career plan
  • Assisting people who have been laid-off in finding new jobs or changing careers
  • Working with employees to assist them in determining their career path within their current company
  • Working with managers to provide career counseling services and supportive work environment(s) for employees

To learn more about becoming a school or career counselor, review the Research Occupations tool on MySECO and investigate your options. Take self-assessments to make sure your skills and interests align with your career choice. Talk to others in the field and get their feedback.

Once you have made the decision to pursue a career as a counselor, you can explore the many tools and resources on MySECO to assist with education planning. College Scorecard is a great starting point for researching and selecting an education institution. You can also use the Scholarship Finder to locate funding relevant to the military community to help pay for classes. See if you are eligible for My Career Advancement Account Scholarship assistance to help with education or licensure costs.

Finding employment

Once you've met the education and experience requirements to become a school or career counselor, it's time to find a job in your occupation. One of the first places to look is the Military Spouse Employment Partnership Job Search. Hundreds of partner employers have made the commitment to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses in portable careers. Visit the MSEP Job Search and search for open positions with organizations, including the following: 

You can also search your local state and national job bank for school and career counseling positions or use the MySECO Job Search Tools, which include the following:

Consider volunteering, if possible, or doing an internship and proactively networking to build your contacts and gain experience. Tell family, friends, co-workers and all others that you are hoping to become a school or career counselor and ask for contacts they might have who can help you build and expand your network.

Professional organizations and networking

You may wish to consider joining a professional organization in your career field to gain a better understanding of current industry trends in counseling. Professional organizations are great ways to continue your education through workshops and conferences, which will add to your transferable skill set as you move. 

Networking with other professionals will give you an edge in meeting people who may have the connections you need to obtain an interview or restart your career at your new location. They may provide important information about available internships and jobs, additional learning opportunities, seminars, networking events, hiring fairs and more. Read The Value of Professional Associations for more information on how becoming a member can help enhance your career.

Next steps

Contact a SECO career coach by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or us the Live Chat feature on the MySECO website to discuss career or education choices, searching for a job or overcoming challenges. Coaches are available to review your resume, practice interviewing, discuss networking or assist you in understanding employer requirements for this field.

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