Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor
Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.

Https

The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

School and Career Counselors and Advisors

Summary

Please enable javascript to play this video.

Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPtHL33Velc.
Quick Facts: School and Career Counselors and Advisors
2020 Median Pay $58,120 per year
$27.94 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Master's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2020 322,000
Job Outlook, 2020-30 11% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2020-30 37,000

What School and Career Counselors and Advisors Do

School counselors help students develop academic and social skills. Career counselors and advisors help people choose a path to employment.

Work Environment

School counselors work in public and private schools. Career counselors and advisors are employed primarily in colleges and universities but also work in career centers and private practice. Both types of counselors usually work full time.

How to Become a School or Career Counselor or Advisor

Most school counselors need a master’s degree in school counseling or a related field and have a state-issued credential. Some states require licensure for career counselors and advisors. 

Pay

The median annual wage for school and career counselors and advisors was $58,120 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Employment of school and career counselors and advisors is projected to grow 11 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 35,000 openings for school and career counselors and advisors are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for school and career counselors and advisors.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of school and career counselors and advisors with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about school and career counselors and advisors by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What School and Career Counselors and Advisors Do About this section

School and career counselors
Career counselors assist people with the process of making career decisions.

School counselors help students develop academic and social skills and plans for after graduation. Career counselors and advisors help students and other clients develop skills, explore an occupation, or choose an educational program that will lead to a career.

Duties

School counselors typically do the following:

  • Help students understand and overcome social or behavioral challenges
  • Analyze data to identify factors, such as poor attendance, that negatively affect academic performance
  • Advise individuals and small groups based on their needs
  • Work with students to develop skills that support learning, such as effective time management and study habits
  • Evaluate students’ abilities and interests through aptitude assessments and interviews
  • Collaborate with teachers and families to help students plan academic, career, and social goals
  • Teach students and school staff about specific topics such as bullying and drug use
  • Present options to students for educational or vocational plans after graduation
  • Maintain records as required
  • Report cases of possible neglect or abuse and refer students and parents to resources for additional support

The specific duties of school counselors vary with their students' ages.

Elementary school counselors visit classrooms or meet with students individually or in groups to help them develop their social and academic skills. They also meet with parents or guardians to discuss the child’s strengths and weaknesses, challenges, or special needs. School counselors work with teachers and administrators to ensure that the curriculum addresses students’ developmental and academic needs.

Middle school counselors work with school staff and families to help students improve their decision-making, study, and social skills. These counselors support students going through challenges in school or at home and offer one-on-one meetings to discuss these challenges. Middle school counselors also assist students in their transition to high school, preparing them for the next level of academic and social development.

High school counselors advise students in making academic and career plans. Many help students overcome personal issues that interfere with their academic development. They help students choose classes and plan for their lives after graduation. Counselors provide information about choosing and applying for colleges, training programs, financial aid, and internships and apprenticeships. They may present career lessons to help students learn how to search and apply for jobs.

Career counselors and advisors typically do the following:

  • Use aptitude and achievement assessments to help students or clients evaluate their interests, skills, and abilities
  • Evaluate students’ or clients’ background, education, and training, to help them develop realistic goals
  • Guide students in making decisions about careers, such as choosing an occupation and the type of degree to pursue
  • Help students select and apply for educational programs to obtain the necessary degrees, credentials, and skills
  • Teach students or clients job-search skills, such as interviewing and networking
  • Assist clients in locating and applying for jobs, by teaching them strategies that will be helpful in finding openings and writing a résumé

The specific duties of career counselors and advisors vary by student or client.

Career coaches work with people who have already entered the workforce. These counselors develop plans with customized objectives and activities to improve their clients’ careers. They motivate their clients and support them to achieve the goals they set together. Career coaches also provide advice about entering a new occupation or helping to resolve workplace issues.

College advisors help students choose a major or determine the jobs they are qualified for with their degrees. These advisors also help people find and get jobs by teaching them job search, résumé writing, and interviewing techniques. College advisors often specialize in counseling students in one area of the college experience, such as admissions or financial aid.

Some career counselors work in outplacement firms and assist laid-off workers with transitioning into new jobs or careers.

Work Environment About this section

School and career counselors
School counselors work in private and public schools where they have private offices.

School and career counselors and advisors held about 322,000 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of school and career counselors and advisors were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private 45%
Junior colleges, colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 35
Healthcare and social assistance 6
Other educational services; state, local, and private 5
Self-employed workers 2

Work Schedules

Both types of counselors and advisors usually work full time. Most counselors and advisors who work in schools and colleges may not work when school is not in session, such as during the summer.

How to Become a School or Career Counselor or Advisor About this section

School and career counselors
Career counselors who work in private practices may also need a license.

School counselors typically must have a master’s degree in school counseling or a related field and have a state-issued credential. Some states require licensure for career counselors and advisors.

Education

Nearly all states and the District of Columbia require school counselors to have a master's degree, which is typically in a field such as counseling or psychology. Degree programs teach counselors the essential skills of the job, such as how to foster development; conduct group and individual counseling; work with support systems, such as parents, school staff, and community organizations; and use data to develop, implement, and evaluate comprehensive counseling programs. These programs often require counselors to complete an internship.

Some employers prefer that career counselors have a master’s degree in counseling with a focus on career development. Career counseling programs prepare students to assess clients’ skills and interests and to teach career development techniques. For career or academic advisors, employers may prefer candidates who have a bachelor’s degree and work experience.

Master’s degree programs in counseling usually require students to have a period of supervised experience, such as an internship.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Public school counselors must have a state-issued credential to practice. Depending on the state, this credential may be called a certification, a license, or an endorsement. Obtaining this credential typically requires a master’s degree in school counseling, an internship or practicum completed under the supervision of a licensed professional school counselor, and successful completion of a test.

Some employers prefer or require candidates to have classroom teaching experience, or to hold a teaching license, prior to being certified. Most states require a criminal background check as part of the credentialing process. Information about requirements for each state is available from the American School Counselor Association.

Some states require licensure for career counselors; check with your state for more information. Contact information for state regulating boards is available from the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Optional certifications for career and academic advisors are available from some professional associations.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. School and career counselors and advisors interpret student records, schoolwide data, and assessments to match interests and abilities with potential careers. 

Compassion. School and career counselors and advisors often work with people who are dealing with stressful and difficult situations, so they must be able to empathize with their clients and students.

Interpersonal skills. School and career counselors and advisors must be able to work with people of all backgrounds and personalities. They need to form and maintain collaborative relationships with clients, students, or other professionals.

Listening skills. School and career counselors and advisors need to give full attention to students and clients in order to understand their problems.

Speaking skills. School and career counselors and advisors must communicate effectively with clients and students. They should express ideas and information in a way that their clients and students understand.

Pay About this section

School and Career Counselors and Advisors

Median annual wages, May 2020

Educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors

$58,120

Counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialists

$47,500

Total, all occupations

$41,950

 

The median annual wage for school and career counselors and advisors was $58,120 in May 2020. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,620, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $97,910.

In May 2020, the median annual wages for school and career counselors and advisors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private $64,960
Other educational services; state, local, and private 52,590
Junior colleges, colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 51,660
Healthcare and social assistance 42,300

Both types of counselors and advisors usually work full time. Most counselors and advisors who work in schools and colleges may not work when school is not in session, such as during the summer.

Job Outlook About this section

School and Career Counselors and Advisors

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialists

14%

Educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors

11%

Total, all occupations

8%

 

Employment of school and career counselors and advisors is projected to grow 11 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 35,000 openings for school and career counselors and advisors are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Rising student enrollment in elementary, middle, and high schools is expected to increase demand for school counselors. As enrollments grow, schools will require more counselors to respond to the developmental and academic needs of their students. Colleges will need to hire additional counselors and advisors to meet the demand for career counseling services from their students.

Demand for career counseling is projected to increase in universities as an increasing number of campuses open onsite career centers to help students develop skills and prepare for transition to the workforce.

Career counselors and advisors also will be needed to assist those who change careers, to help laid-off workers find employment, and to help military personnel transition into the civilian job market.

Employment projections data for school and career counselors and advisors, 2020-30
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors

21-1012 322,000 359,000 11 37,000 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of school and career counselors and advisors.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2020 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
High school teachers High School Teachers

High school teachers teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market.

Bachelor's degree $62,870
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct young students in basic subjects in order to prepare them for future schooling.

Bachelor's degree $60,660
Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists Marriage and Family Therapists

Marriage and family therapists help people manage and overcome problems with family and other relationships.

Master's degree $51,340
Middle school teachers Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers educate students, typically in sixth through eighth grades.

Bachelor's degree $60,810
Psychologists Psychologists

Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how individuals relate to one another and to their environments.

See How to Become One $82,180
Rehabilitation counselors Rehabilitation Counselors

Rehabilitation counselors help people with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities live independently.

Master's degree $37,530
Social and community service managers Social and Community Service Managers

Social and community service managers coordinate and supervise programs and organizations that support public well-being.

Bachelor's degree $69,600
Social and human service assistants Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants provide client services in a variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work.

High school diploma or equivalent $35,960
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors provide treatment and advise people who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, or other mental or behavioral problems.

Bachelor's degree $47,660
training and development specialists image Training and Development Specialists

Training and development specialists plan and administer programs that improve the skills and knowledge of their employees.

Bachelor's degree $62,700

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about counseling and information about counseling specialties, visit

American Counseling Association

For more information about school counselors, visit

American School Counselor Association

For more information about career counselors and advisors, visit

National Career Development Association

For more information about state credentialing, visit

National Board for Certified Counselors

CareerOneStop

For a career video on school and career counselors and advisors, visit

Educational, Vocational, and School Counselors

O*NET

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, School and Career Counselors and Advisors,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/school-and-career-counselors.htm (visited October 09, 2021).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 8, 2021

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2020 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2020, the median annual wage for all workers was $41,950.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2020

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2020, which is the base year of the 2020-30 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2020-30

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030. The average growth rate for all occupations is 8 percent.

Employment Change, 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

2020 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2020, the median annual wage for all workers was $41,950.