What degree do I need to be a school counselor?

Ready to start your journey?

DegreeQuery.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

School counseling is a very rewarding job as you get to watch kids grow and become educated adults. At any level, primary school through college, students look to the counselor for advice and guidance for both school and life. A school counselor directly impacts the shape that a student’s life will take, and they get to watch as they reach those goals that were set for them.


Becoming a school counselor takes a lot of hard work. To become a school counselor, you will ultimately need at least a master’s degree in school counseling or counseling psychology. Working with kids and shaping their lives requires a lot of mutual trust and qualifications. Schools needs to know that you have the training and skills required to handle such an important role.

As an undergraduate, you may seek a bachelor’s degree in psychology, counseling, or social work. Any related field may also be acceptable depending on the graduate program you are aiming to be accepted into. Some people choose to pursue a degree in education to gain experience working in the classroom with the kids before deciding that counseling is right for them.

During your coursework for both undergraduate and graduate work, you can expect to learn many counseling skills. You will learn a lot about ethics and counseling techniques for children. A good counselor is an excellent listener, highly organized, and pays close attention to detail. There are also legal obligations to being a counselor; state laws will often mandate that any suspicion of abuse should be reported immediately. The main aim of a school counselor is to aid students in academics and job placement, but students cannot be expected to perform well if there are other life distractions. Counselors are expected to be able to talk calmly with students to resolve issues, or to just lend an ear to their problems. Counselors often deal with very delicate situations that require a high level of compassion and professionalism.

Certificates and Licensing

Each state requires certain certificates and licensing for their school counselors. Most will require that counselors hold their state’s certification for school counseling and have completed some graduate work. Additionally, counselors are typically required to complete two years of supervised clinical work before receiving their license. During the course of your work as a school counselor, you will be required to attend continuing education courses to keep your license. The required number of hours per year will vary from state to state.

Career Advancement

After working for several years as a counselor, you will have opportunities for job advancement. Many school counselors go on to administrative roles or supervisory positions. College counselors can even advance and become professors.

Whatever age you wish to support, school counseling is a hard-fought battle. In the end, know that it will be the most rewarding experience you could ask for in the field of education. You can expect to touch the lives of many kids, and you get to watch them grow into the adults you hoped they would become.