College Counselor: Job Info & Career Requirements

Oct 20, 2021

College counselors often take a personalized, holistic approach in helping others decide what education path to take. These professionals are usually thoughtful, patient and wise about discussing the options available to their clients, whether they are about to graduate high school or are non-traditional students.

Essential Information

College counselors traditionally work with high school students who are preparing to graduate and enter postsecondary educational institutions; however, they may also work with adults and those returning to school. A college counselor may be employed by one college to specifically guide prospective enrollees through that school's admissions process, or they may be employed by high schools or hired by students or their parents to offer guidance and advice. College counselors generally need at least a bachelor's degree; state licensure may be required depending on the state and employer.

Required Education Bachelor's degree, master's recommended in some instances
Other Requirements State licensure
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 8%*
Median Salary (2020) $58,120 annually*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), career opportunities for school and career counselors, including college counselors, are expected to increase much faster than the national average through 2029. In May 2020, the BLS reported that professionals in the 90th percentile or higher earned $97,910 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $35,620 or less per year.

Required Education

A bachelor's degree is typically necessary for a career in college counseling, and counseling courses should be part of the equation whether the degree itself is in education, communication, psychology or a related field. Some certificate programs train those making the shift into college counseling after completing their bachelor's degree program. Coursework may include such topics as college student affairs, career counseling and higher education trends. A master's degree is also recommended and may be necessary to qualify for licensure; requirements vary from state to state.

Required Skills

Strong teaching, writing and communication skills - as well as an outgoing personality - are valuable assets to a college counselor. Willingness to work long and irregular hours might be important; these professionals also need a strong desire to help others.

College counseling positions require intense passion. Professionals receive immense personal value and fulfillment in exchange for modest salaries. The job growth rate is on par with the national employment rate, which reflects how important it is for young adults today to receive proper guidance.

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