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Running head: PROCESS OF BECOMING A COUNSELOR

Process of Becoming a Counselor


MSG James V. Southern
Southern New Hampshire University

Author Note
This paper was prepared for EDU-765, taught by Mr. Ron Barnes

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.Process of Becoming a Counselor


School counselors serve as a primary mentor while shaping their students lives. They
assist students select courses to take, plan for their future, and navigate rough social situations
(School and career counselors, 2013). The job can be extremely challenging, but offers many
rewards. Counselors sometimes act as the single adult within the school that students are willing
to entrust their problems. Although providing academic assistance is the main effort, counselors
often find themselves playing the role of personal confidant and therapist. They administer and
interpret career interest and aptitude tests to help students plan a career or post-secondary path.
They also provide resources for getting into a post-secondary institution, or for getting a job.
However, students who are struggling with social, academic, or personal issues cannot focus on
achieving their academic potential and their dreams. So, counselors also work with students,
teachers, administrators, and parents to catch potential problems early, before they turn into
major issues (Beale, 2003).
Every state requires school counselors hold their state's school counseling certification
and to have completed at least some graduate-level course work. Almost all states require that
counselors have a master's degree in their field. Continuing education and training credits are
required to keep up with certification, though how many hours and what types of courses must
be taken varies by state. Typically, counselors are required to complete two years (or 3,000
hours) of supervised clinical experience after obtaining their master's degrees in order to become
licensed (Trevisan, 2013). Graduate counseling programs are accredited in the U.S. by the
Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs, or CACREP.
Although completing a CACREP-approved program is usually not a requirement for licensing, it
does ensure that graduates will have met the requirements for certification in most states. Some

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counselors also choose to be certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors - any
additional licenses and certifications that are voluntary nonetheless indicate a level of
professional attainment that can amount to higher paying and better job offers (Trevisan, 2013).
The process of becoming a school counselor is not simple. At the undergraduate level,
high school guidance counselors typically earn 4-year degrees in psychology, counseling, or
education. Foundational courses in these programs cover topics in child and adolescent
development, cognitive psychology, and personality theory. Programs may also include studies
of psychological testing and the statistical methods used in research. As students advance in their
respective majors, they take specialized courses. For example, while psychology students may
take classes in abnormal psychology, education majors may learn more about curriculum
development. A master's degree is the typical education requirement to become a high school
guidance counselor (U.S. Department of Labor, 2014). At the graduate level, students can choose
from master's degree programs in secondary school counseling or in education. Such programs
focus on developing the skills and techniques needed to help young adults identify the source of
their problems and find a coping mechanism. Courses may cover topics ranging from family
therapy to cultural diversity.
Finally, many states require high school guidance counselors to obtain school counseling
credentialing, which may be referred to as a license, certification, or endorsement. While the
requirements for credentialing vary, most states require applicants to hold master's degrees,
complete an internship, and pass a state exam. Some states require counselors to earn teaching
credentials to work in school settings. In some such states, this may entail completion of a
teacher education program, teacher certification through an alternative program or several years

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of teaching experience. The American School Counselor Association provides counselors with
professional development resources, including a list of state-specific licensure requirements.

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References
Beale, A. V. (2003). The indispensable school counselor. Principal Leadership, 4(1), 68-71.
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School and career counselors. (2013). (). Washington: U.S. Superintendent of Documents.
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url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1461739435?accountid=3783
Trevisan, M. S. (2000). The Status of Program Evaluation Expectations in State School
Counselor Certification Requirements. American Journal Of Evaluation, 21(1), 81.