School counsellors work with students to resolve social, academic and personal challenges. These professionals also partner with teachers and parents to support students. As of 2008, job growth for education, vocational and school counsellors is expected to increase 14 per cent by 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (which is faster than average for all professions). However, before launching this career, you'll need to complete the required education and testing.
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Complete a bachelor's program. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, school counsellors must complete a bachelor's degree, which takes four years of full-time study to complete. Majors such as education, psychology and sociology are attractive to graduate schools and employers.
Take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test. Graduate schools that focus on education and counselling require this exam. The GRE tests a student's analytical writing, qualitative reasoning and verbal reasoning skills. As of 2010, the cost to take the GRE test was £133. Test preparation materials can be found at the GRE website. The materials cost between £8 to £13 (plus shipping and handling). The GRE test must be taken before applying to graduate schools.
Enrol in a graduate program. After you've completed the GRE test, apply to graduate programs that specialise in child psychology and education. These programs typically take two years of full-time study to complete. During this time, you'll study counselling, child development, applied school counselling and principles of counselling. You will also complete a counselling internship in an educational environment to give you hands-on experience.
Check with your state for licensing requirements. Some states require school counsellors to pass certification exams. Contact your state education department to determine local laws and restrictions. If an exam is required, request a study guide to help focus your preparation efforts.
Tips and warnings
- If you have to reschedule your GRE test, you will be charged a change fee. As of 2010, the rescheduling fee was £32.
- Working as a school counsellor can be stressful. Consider seeking internship experience in a school counselling setting during your undergraduate study to ensure that this is the right career choice.
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