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Career profile Guidance Counselor

Also known as Academic Advisor, Academic Counselor, Admissions Counselor, Career Counselor, College Counselor, Guidance Counselor, School Adjustment Counselor, School Counselor, Student Development Advisor, Student Services Coordinator

Guidance Counselor

Also known as Academic Advisor, Academic Counselor, Admissions Counselor

Interests Profile
  • Social
  • Artistic
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$35,620 - $97,910 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Active Listening
  • Speaking
  • Social Perceptiveness
Knowledge Areas
  • Therapy and Counseling
  • Psychology
  • Education and Training
Core tasks
  • Provide crisis intervention to students when difficult situations occur at schools.
  • Confer with parents or guardians, teachers, administrators, and other professionals to discuss children's progress, resolve behavioral, academic, and other problems, and to determine priorities for students and their resource needs.
  • Identify cases of domestic abuse or other family problems and encourage students or parents to seek additional assistance from mental health professionals.
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What does a Guidance Counselor do?

Guidance Counselors advise and assist students and provide educational and vocational guidance services.

What kind of tasks does a Guidance Counselor perform regularly?

Guidance Counselors are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Provide crisis intervention to students when difficult situations occur at schools.
  • Confer with parents or guardians, teachers, administrators, and other professionals to discuss children's progress, resolve behavioral, academic, and other problems, and to determine priorities for students and their resource needs.
  • Identify cases of domestic abuse or other family problems and encourage students or parents to seek additional assistance from mental health professionals.
  • Counsel individuals to help them understand and overcome personal, social, or behavioral problems affecting their educational or vocational situations.
  • Counsel students regarding educational issues, such as course and program selection, class scheduling and registration, school adjustment, truancy, study habits, and career planning.
  • Maintain accurate and complete student records as required by administrative policy.
  • Prepare students for later educational experiences by encouraging them to explore learning opportunities and to persevere with challenging tasks.
  • Teach classes and present self-help or information sessions on subjects related to education and career planning.
  • Provide special services such as alcohol and drug prevention programs and classes that teach students to handle conflicts without resorting to violence.
  • Instruct individuals in career development techniques, such as job search and application strategies, resume writing, and interview skills.
  • Conduct follow-up interviews with counselees to determine if their needs have been met.
  • Plan and promote career and employment-related programs and events, such as career planning presentations, work experience programs, job fairs, and career workshops.
  • Plan and conduct orientation programs and group conferences to promote the adjustment of individuals to new life experiences, such as starting college.
  • Evaluate students' or individuals' abilities, interests, and personality characteristics, using tests, records, interviews, or professional sources.
  • Collaborate with teachers and administrators in the development, evaluation, and revision of school programs and in the preparation of master schedules for curriculum offerings.
  • Observe students during classroom and play activities to evaluate students' performance, behavior, social development, and physical health.
  • Establish and enforce administration policies and rules governing student behavior.
  • Address community groups, faculty, and staff members to explain available counseling services.
  • Prepare reports on students and activities as required by administration.
  • Attend meetings, educational conferences, and training workshops and serve on committees.
  • Compile and study occupational, educational, and economic information to assist counselees in determining and carrying out vocational and educational objectives.
  • Plan, direct, and participate in recruitment and enrollment activities.
  • Supervise, train, and direct professional staff and interns.

The above responsibilities are specific to Guidance Counselors. More generally, Guidance Counselors are involved in several broader types of activities:

Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Assisting and Caring for Others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

What is a Guidance Counselor salary?

The median salary for a Guidance Counselor is $58,120, and the average salary is $62,320. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Guidance Counselor salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Guidance Counselors earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Guidance Counselors earn less than $35,620 per year, 25% earn less than $45,080, 75% earn less than $75,920, and 90% earn less than $97,910.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Guidance Counselors is expected to change by 11.5%, and there should be roughly 35,000 open positions for Guidance Counselors every year.

Median annual salary
$58,120
Typical salary range
$35,620 - $97,910
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
11.5%

What personality traits are common among Guidance Counselors?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Guidance Counselor are usually higher in their Social interests.

Guidance Counselors typically have very strong Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Guidance Counselor tend to value Relationships, Achievement, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Guidance Counselors very strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Guidance Counselors strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Lastly, Guidance Counselors strongly value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Guidance Counselors must consistently demonstrate qualities such as concern for others, integrity, and cooperation.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Guidance Counselors, ranked by importance:

Concern for Others
Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Social Orientation
Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.

What education and training do Guidance Counselors need?

Many Guidance Counselors have earned a graduate degree. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D..

Guidance Counselors may need some on-the-job training, but most candidates will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Educational degrees among Guidance Counselors

  • 0.8% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 4.1% completed high school or secondary school
  • 5.0% completed some college coursework
  • 2.3% earned a Associate's degree
  • 22.1% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 60.5% earned a Master's degree
  • 5.2% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Guidance Counselors

Guidance Counselors may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as therapy and counseling, psychology, or education and training knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Guidance Counselors might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Therapy and Counseling
Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
Psychology
Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Administrative
Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

Important Abilities needed by Guidance Counselors

Guidance Counselors must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Guidance Counselors need abilities such as oral expression, oral comprehension, and written comprehension in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Guidance Counselors, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

Critical Skills needed by Guidance Counselors

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Guidance Counselors frequently use skills like active listening, speaking, and social perceptiveness to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Guidance Counselors, ranked by their relative importance.

Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Social Perceptiveness
Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Service Orientation
Actively looking for ways to help people.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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