If you enjoy working with children and have a passion for helping others cope with their struggles, consider a career as a school counselor. The job outlook for this role is good; the BLS estimates that employment of school counselors is growing faster than the average for all occupations.
Learn about school counselor salaries by state, what they do and how to become one in this guide.
School Counselor Salary by State
Salaries for school counselors differ by region and employer. Metro areas tend to pay more than rural areas, and private schools tend to pay more than public schools. For our information, we consulted the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, as it is the most reliable website for national salary and employment information. For the category of School and Career Counselors, it offers the following information:
2018 median pay: $56,310 annually
Job outlook between 2018-2028: 8% growth, which BLS states is faster than average. The reason for the increase is due to the increases in school enrollment from the children of millennials and Generation Z enter school.
The number of expected new jobs between 2018-2028: 27,200
From the BLS (Educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors): Annual mean wage is $60,080.
School counselor salary in California
From the BLS (Educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors): Annual mean wage is $74,530.
School counselor salary in New York City
From the BLS (Educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors in the state of New York): Annual mean wage is $67,920.
School counselor salary in Ohio
From the BLS: Ohio salaries are not specified as a state because it’s not among the states employing the highest number of people in this occupation. However, North Northeastern Ohio ranks among the highest non-contiguous non-metropolitan area doing so, and the average salary there is $50,770.
School Counselor Salaries With a Master’s Degree
While there may be instances where school counselors rise to the position from within a school or district without a master’s degree, school counselor positions today typically require such a degree. The BLS estimates that the 2018 median pay was $56,310 annually.
School Social Worker Salaries vs. School Counselor Salaries
School social workers perform some of the same functions as a school counselor, but they specialize in dealing with children who struggle in school due primarily to forces outside of school, such as family issues or poverty. The School Social Work Association of America states that school social workers are “trained mental health professionals who can assist with mental health concerns, behavioral concerns, positive behavioral support, academic and classroom support, consultation with teachers, parents, and administrators, as well as provide individual and group counseling/therapy.”
Most school social work positions require a master’s of social work degree, but not all. They must be licensed by the state, and the BLS states the median salary for school social workers in 2018 was $46,270 annually.
School Counselor Employment Projections
The BLS projects employment of school counselors will grow 8% between 2018 and 2028, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
What’s driving this growth? School enrollments are expected to increase as the children of Millennials begin to enroll. In 2019, according to data from the Pew Research Group, Millennials were poised to overtake the Baby Boomers as the largest adult population group; as their children enter school, the need for classrooms, teachers, and administration — including school counselors — will similarly increase.
Ready to Become a School Counselor?
School counselors are a necessary and growing presence in elementary, middle and high schools. They can help establish and maintain a positive, supportive presence in a child’s life. Their occupation will continue to thrive for many years to come, due to increasing enrollment and the increasing pressures students face from both academic and life situations.
Most school counselors need a master’s degree. There are four basic steps to becoming a school counselor:
Earn an undergraduate degree: While a specific field of study isn’t required, later you will likely apply to graduate school, so a degree in psychology, counseling, social work, or education will help the most.
Earn a master’s degree: Various kinds of master’s degrees could help you here, but if you want to set yourself up for success, aim for a master’s that focuses on school counseling. The coursework and faculty will not only prepare you for the occupation – emphasizing student development, academic achievement, social and personal goals, and, of course, counseling skills — but also help you to be proficient in the knowledge you will need to pass your certification exams and get licensed.
Get experience in the field: You’ll earn some experience while working toward your master’s degree, but an internship will help you get the real-life experience you need. There are some states that require more hours post-graduation, such as a supervised counseling setting.