If you are considering a career in counseling, it can help to know what kind of counseling you would like to work in. School counselors are vital parts of the educational facilities in which they work, helping to support students both academically and personally. Many school counselor positions will require you to have a masters degree, and you will also need to pass your licensing exam. A course in school counseling can help prepare you to pass this exam, as well as providing you will a high level of educational training, practical opportunities and the flexibility to study at home. When thinking about planning your academic journey towards becoming a school counselor, an online masters degree can be a cost-effective and accessible option. Here are just a few of the ways in which this degree can help your career, the skills you may gain and the different career outcomes it may open up for you.

What is it?

An online masters in school counseling is an MSEd, which stands for masters of science in education. It is a rigorous, challenging course that can help prepare you to pass your licensing exams. The majority of counseling jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree, and many states will require you to have a masters degree, so an online masters in school counseling is a great way to make sure you have the correct qualifications for the career you want. The course can be studied mostly online, and combines online coursework with in-field practice, which gives you the perfect opportunity to put your new skills and knowledge into practice in a working environment. There is a huge range of modules, such as abnormal psychology and multicultural counseling, as well as internships and residencies.

What do school counselors do?

School counselors help support children and young people in different educational facilities. This can include high school, elementary school, colleges and universities. They provide academic and personal support. School counselors also often deliver lessons on topics such as bullying or drug abuse, which is why many school counselors have previous education or teaching experience.

As a school counselor, your daily tasks will vary greatly, depending on your clients and the location in which you work. Typical tasks can include:

  • Teaching classes on topics including bullying, and drug and alcohol abuse, college preparation and post-graduation plans
  • Identifying and reporting possible cases of abuse or neglect
  • Provide individual and small group counseling
  • Help students develop good personal and study skills and habits
  • Refer students and parents to external resources for further help and support

There are generally three main types of counseling offered by school counselors:

Directive – this is a counselor-centered form of counseling in which the counselor plays an active role. It is also known as prescriptive counseling, as the counselor prescribes the course of action or solution for the student.

Non-directive – this is client-centered counseling in which the counselor takes a passive role and allows the client to direct the counseling. This gives the client more freedom as they can talk about whatever they like, and in as much detail as they want. The goal is the integration and independence of the client.

Eclectic – this is a combination of both directive and non-directive counseling, in which the counselor is more passive than in the former, but more active than in the latter. The counselor can choose to use whatever techniques from the two types of counseling that seem appropriate to the situation and the client.

Is it the right job for you?

This is a demanding and challenging counseling role, and you will have to have certain personality traits, as well as technical knowledge, in order to be an effective school counselor. An online masters in school counseling can help prepare you for working in this industry by giving you valuable experiences and knowledge that will help you grow in terms of skills and personally. There are many skills that a good school counselor needs, and these include:

  • Empathy – this is the ability to put yourself in the shoes of another. You will have plenty of experience and skills, but it is unlikely that you will have firsthand experience of every situation that students present to you. Therefore, exercising empathy can help you understand their emotions, making you a more effective counselor.
  • Communication – when people think about counseling, many think of a person to talk to or to listen to. As a counselor, communication skills are vital. You will need to be a great communicator and listener, as well as being able to pick up on non-verbal cues such as body language. You will be talking with a wide range of people, and will need to understand how to adapt your communication techniques and style for each situation and individual.
  • Teamwork – you will be working with many different people, including parents, teachers, medical professional and social workers, and will have to collaborate in order to find the best solutions for students. They may not all have the same level of knowledge and understanding as you, and vice versa, so good teamwork and communication skills are essential.
  • Organization – you will have multiple clients and projects on-the-go at any one time, from counseling sessions to teaching lessons, so organization and time management are vital. You need to ensure that you are treating each case with the same level of professionalism and care, as each student is an individual and will have their own set of requirements and needs.

These are just a few of the traits you will need in order to become a good school counselor. You are an advocate for your students, helping support them both academically and with personal issues. Being a school counselor with combine all of your academic knowledge and personal skills in order to provide the highest level of care and support that you can, and make you an effective school counselor.

How do you become a school counselor?

An online masters in school counseling is just one of the qualifications you will need to become a competent and effective school counselor. A bachelor’s degree in a related area such as education, counseling or psychology are common options before choosing to specialize in school counseling. You will also need to pass your state licensing exam, which can vary depending on your location. It is therefore important to consider this when deciding where you are going to study and practice. The internships and residencies that an online masters in school counseling offer are beneficial for a number of reasons, as they can help you make connections in the industry, and it is quite common for people to work for the companies they interned for. A masters degree also helps you to stand out in a pool of applicants, as it shows you have a high level of education and dedication to the industry.

Career Outcomes

There are a variety of career outcomes when you’ve completed studying to become a school counselor. You could work in a variety of settings such as schools, colleges and universities. Here are just a few of the career options and some of the tasks the roles involve:

Elementary school

This is the age in which children are developing a clearer sense of themselves, and are learning to communicate and socialize with others. It is also a time when learning difficulties or mental health issues, or familial difficulties among other things, may start to become more apparent. You may help support these students by arranging to provide support and extra instruction where this is appropriate, such as referring students to a speech therapist or further counseling.

High school

In high school there are plenty of personal and academic pressures, and school counselors can help support students in both of these areas. You may help a student decide and plan their college or post-graduation plans, refer them for further support or counseling, and generally help them on their way to becoming responsible, productive and fulfilled individuals.

What are the benefits of studying online?

An online masters in school counseling has plenty of benefits, both academically and personally. These courses are great for those who wish to study and further their education, but cannot commit to full-time, in-person education for whatever reason. You may have a job or family, or other existing commitments, and online study allows you to complete your education alongside these. The flexibility offered by an online masters in school counseling makes it an affordable and attractive option.

Online learning can also be incredibly cost-effective, as many of the costs associated with being a student are reduced or removed. As you are studying mostly from home, you won’t have to worry so much about rent and accommodation on or near campus, or the daily commuting costs and lengths. Tuition fees for online courses are also often cheaper than their in-person counterparts, making this a more accessible study option. You may also still be eligible for any discounts or financial support, so it is important to look into this as well, in order to make sure you are getting as much support as possible.

Another benefit of online study is the ability to study from any location. Your local institution may not offer the courses, or level of education, that you need. This can mean you are unable to pursue your dream career or you may have to study something else. When you study a course such as an online masters in school counseling, you can do so from wherever you live, as the majority of the work is done online. This is another way in which online study is flexible and accessible, and provides the opportunity to pursue this career to a wider range of people. Working and studying from home also gives you more control over your schedule and learning environment, which can go a long way to improving the enjoyment of your learning experience. If you don’t enjoy learning in a classroom setting, online study can give you the tools and freedom to set your own learning pace, and to develop healthy learning skills and habits that you can use in the future.

As well as the technical knowledge an online masters in school counseling will provide you with, it will also give you the opportunity to develop important and valuable personal skills. Soft skills are a set of transferable, non-technical skills that help you succeed in the workplace, and help your resume stand out. They include organization, communication, time management, creativity, problem-solving and self-motivation, many of which you will use when studying online. For example, you will have to be incredibly organized in order to complete your studies to a high level, especially if you are continuing to work while you learn. Self-motivation is another important skill that you will develop, as you won’t have a tutor watching over you, and there can be plenty of distraction around when you are working from home. When in an interview setting, you can give these practical examples to potential employers to demonstrate times when you have utilized your soft skills. There are also many that are particularly useful for school counselors to have.

Becoming a school counselor is a very rewarding job, one in which you can assist and support young people in various areas of their lives. An online masters in school counseling can help furnish you the experiences and knowledge that you will need to be a good counselor, as well as allowing you to develop important personal skills that will help you in the workplace. There are increasing numbers of students enrolling in schools and educational facilities, which means that there is also a growing need for more school counselors to support them. Whether you are a teacher looking to become a school counselor, or are just at the beginning of your academic journey towards becoming a counselor, an online masters in school counseling is a valuable qualification to have, and will prepare you for the important work that school counselors do.