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Guidance Counselor Job Description
The basic guidance counselor job description must first include the job description of a counselor in general. A counselor is an individual that meets, talks and assists people with challenges, issues and decisions concerning family, marriage, education, career decisions, behavioral and mental health, crises, bereavement and problems with substance abuse, relationships and more. In the case of a guidance counselor, the specific duties pertain to assisting students plan for higher education, technical school entry, career choices and to play a vital part as a listener, talker and student adviser about social, emotional and academic challenges. The result of guidance counselor intervention should be that the student will learn how to problem-solve more effectively, make sound decisions and be able to handle challenges appropriately as they face their future.
Functions of a Guidance Counselor
The most important function that should be covered in the guidance counselor job description has to be listening—both for what students say and what they don’t say. The guidance counselor must be very empathetic, enjoy talking to people (particularly students of all ages that need assistance), desire to be of help to the students they serve, and use all resources at their disposal to be creative and responsive to student needs and issues. A keen interest in students, their future success, and resolution of problems is a must for a guidance counselor to be able to develop the talents and skills that make the relationship a success for both the counselor and the student.
A revitalization of guidance departments in schools occurred after World War II due to students feeling lost and without direction while parents were not equipped to help them. Big urban schools, the development of jobs that included advanced technology, increased numbers of students planning to attend college all required the services of professionally trained advisors. These vocational and guidance counselors were skilled in assessment, counseling and consultive techniques as well as guidance services, testing and research methods, group dynamics and counseling for differences in human behavior. Because of the variety of skills required by counselors, several specialized fields of counseling have formed, such as: vocational and career counselors, elementary, secondary and college counselors, individual and group counselors, student appraisal counselors, consultation counselors and coordinating counselors. Group counselors are usually referred to as facilitators who lead a group process. There are varying levels of educational preparation for each of these types of guidance counselors and diverse salary ranges as well. Years of education, training, experience and post-degree experience determine salary, benefits and advancement.
Education Requirements to Fill the Guidance Counselor Job Description
The educational requirements within the guidance counselor job description include earning a degree ranging from the associate to doctorate level and beyond. It is a serious and highly complicated matter to deal with students’ lives, problems, career decisions and future educational pursuits. Therefore, an understanding of all of the diverse vocational and professional positions and their qualification requirements is necessary for a competent guidance counselor. The five most important things to consider when pursuing a career in guidance counseling include:
- Most states require a master’s degree and some form of state certification to assure competency
- The bachelor’s degree obtained for most teaching experience of guidance counselors is invaluable to schools, experience with students and strengths ones resume
- Often, schools, universities and institutions of higher learning and vocational institutes prefer guidance counselors who possess advanced education and training in guidance services, group dynamics, theoretical counseling techniques, methods of research, human behavioral courses, assessment methods in guidance, counseling and consultive methods in the school, group procedures in the school and a practicum in elementary or secondary guidance
- The serious interventions required for student crises usually involves dealing with substance abuse, death, suicide, mental illness, academic problems and more. This makes it vital to be equipped with the core classes, training, practicums and experience that comes from the collegial track.
- Only in colleges and universities will one develop the intellectual competence, energy, flexibility, support, goodwill and self-awareness required to listen and appropriately respond to students.
A student in primary or secondary school will give a guidance counselor three vital pieces of information: their challenge or issue, their emotional response concerning the issue, and their expectations about the counselor’s intervention. Their issues are usually classified in one of five categories: conflict with others, conflict with self, lack of information about self, lack of information about environment, and lack of skill. This is why expert training in communication, assertion and effective study habits is paramount.
Finally, a guidance counselor job description at the elementary or secondary school level is quite similar to that of a teacher when it comes to a contract with the school. Salary typically ranges from $25,000 to $80,000 per year. School year schedule, days off and benefits usually match a teacher’s contract as well. A bachelor’s to doctorate degree are the degree ranges for a good guidance counselor in order to be well prepared to guide a student from their formative youth to a productive adulthood.