School Counseling Salary: What You’ll Earn

School counseling salaries are almost as rewarding as the career itself.

Median Annual Salary

school-counseling-salarySchool counselors help and encourage students develop the skills they’ll need to succeed in school and in life. They also assist students in selecting careers and programs that best fit their skills and ambitions. Here are some statistics on salaries, job growth, and employer types for school counselors.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ current Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for school counselors is $54,560. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors.

What is my earning potential?

School counselors could earn as much as $90,030 per year according to the BLS, which reports that this is the median salary for the top 10 percent of professionals in the field.

How does a school psychologist’s salary compare to other psychology careers?

Counseling Career Median Annual Salary*
Mental Health Counselor $42,840
Rehabilitation Counselor $34,670
Substance Abuse Counselor $41,070
Marriage and Family Therapist $49,170

 

School Counselor Salaries by employer type:

Employer Type Median Annual Salary*
Elementary and Secondary Schools $62,100
State and local government, excluding education and hospitals $48,380
Junior colleges, colleges, universities and professional schools; state, local and private $48,500

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2018-19 Occupational Outlook Handbook; School and Career Counselors.

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

Is there demand for this career?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for school counselors is about as fast as average for all occupations. Much of this is attributable to rising student enrollment in elementary, middle and high school. And the BLS predicts colleges and universities will need to hire more counselors to meet the demands of the growing college-age population. Vocational and career services center’s need for counselors will also surge, creating demand in this area as well.

What is the job growth for the field?

Employment of school counselors is expected to grow 11 percent through 2026, which is about as fast as the national average for all occupations. Take a look at how some of the other counseling occupations compare as far as job growth:

  • Mental health counselors—20 percent
  • Marriage and family therapists—20 percent
  • Social workers—15 percent
  • Rehabilitation counselors—10 percent

National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

How much competition will I face for a job?

Despite promising job growth reports and the vital role that school counselors’ play in maximizing student success, competition may be strong for school counselor jobs as growth may be offset by school budgets. Counseling programs are often some of the first programs that are reduced when school budgets are cut, and counselors are often tasked with roles other than helping students, according to the U.S. News and World Report article, “A Numbers Game for High School Counselors.”

How do I advance in my school counselor career?

With advanced degrees and continuing education and experience, some school counselors may advance to positions such as head counselor, director of pupil services or school psychologist. College-level school counselors may advance to dean of students, dean of placement or personnel, financial aid director or supervisor of testing.

Professional development is an important factor for advancement in a school counseling career. The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) is the authorized provider for continuing education units (CEUs), and the ASCA stresses the importance of professional development to advance your career and stay effective in the field.

Another way to advance is to get certified. There are two certification organizations available:

  • The National Board for Certified Counselors and Affiliates Inc. (NBCC)
  • The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)

These boards recognize accomplished school counselors and assess knowledge, skills and abilities considered vital to provide effective counseling services. Earning these certificates shows potential employers that you are a qualified and accomplished professional in your chosen career, and may play a role in employment decisions or promotions.

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