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MA/MS in School Counseling????

countrykid0918countrykid0918 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
I am considering getting a Masters degree in School Counseling. I have always wanted to be a high school guidance counselor. I don't know if it is such a good idea though. So it wasn't until my junior year of college, I learned that most guidance counselors have an undergrad degree in education and have 2 years of teaching experience before becoming a guidance counselor. My undergrad major is psychology, and I don't plan on going into a "Transfer to Teaching" program to make up for not majoring in education.

I know it is possible for a non education major with no teaching experience to become a school guidance counselor....but will it be much harder for me to get a position with me not having that teaching experience?

Also, what is the overall job outlook? Is this even a good field to get into? I have heard people in the past say there are not a lot of positions open, but maybe that's not true. In the state I would like to settle down in after college, the average salary for a school counselor is about $48k. I don't know if that salary is even worth going to school for 6 years.

I feel like the cons outweigh the pros here. Advice please? I may go into a Masters program in Forensic Psychology instead. That is my second interest, and it pays more. Maybe it would be a better fit.

Replies to: MA/MS in School Counseling????

  • SMK168SMK168 Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    Just a heads up, there is not much money to be found in counseling. If you get into the medical side of counseling that would be a different story.

    Some helpful websites:
    https://www.schoolcounselor.org/school-counselors-members/careers-roles/state-certification-requirements
    https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211012.htm
    https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1012.00

    But just remember, even if it doesn't make you six figures, if you enjoy what you do that can be more rewarding than a big paycheck :)
  • BackNSchool83BackNSchool83 Registered User Posts: 446 Member
    One advantage though can be government jobs with government benefits. I've considered academic counseling at a community college after being licensed in the field.
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 11,202 Super Moderator
    edited July 18
    Licensing requirements vary a lot from state to state. I wanted to be a high school guidance counselor in college, and in my home state - GA - school counselors (at the time) usually weren't classroom teachers first. So I'd see whether those were the requirements across states or whether your state has specific requirements that maybe aren't the same everywhere.

    Whether it'll be harder for you to get hired will depend entirely on the state, school and district. In states where guidance counselors are required to have teaching experience first you will find it impossible to get hired without it, since it's a licensing requirement. In others where it's not required, it might be hard or quite easy.

    $48K is enough, in most places, to live a solidly middle-class lifestyle. Obviously not in New York or San Francisco, but then guidance counselors probably get paid a little more there.
    I feel like the cons outweigh the pros here. Advice please? I may go into a Masters program in Forensic Psychology instead. That is my second interest, and it pays more. Maybe it would be a better fit.

    A master's in forensic psychology actually won't qualify you to do too much. Most forensic psychologists are actually PhD-holding psychological professionals - often clinical or counseling psychologists - who have years of experience doing research or conducting therapy with clients in the criminal justice system. You can't do examinations for fitness for trial, for example, without a license - and a master's program in forensic psychology does not lead to licensure.

    Have you considered school psychology? The salary for school psychologists is quite a bit higher (the average is in the $75-90K range) and school psychologists only need a master's degree to practice, although MS degrees in school psych are a little longer than others and commonly take 2.5-3 years to complete. Check out what school psychologists do here:

    https://www.nasponline.org/about-school-psychology/who-are-school-psychologists

    You could also consider a master's in mental health counseling and specializing in therapy with kids and teens.
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