School counseling is a noble profession, and it's not as difficult to break into as you may think. One very good first step is to investigate an education with an accredited online university.
School counselors help shape students' lives. They act as guides for students who are dealing with problems and help them go beyond their psychological upheavals. They also help students develop themselves academically as well as in other aspects.
School counselors also assist older students who want to go to college in deciding which career path to take. Moreover, they deal with parents and faculty members on a daily basis, in order to come up with ways of maximizing the students' development and improving the school's academic curriculum.
To become a school counselor, know first if you have the personality to be one. Ask a school counselor if you can spend one day with him or her, so you can observe the things he or she does. If you're still in high school, join organizations which focus on peer counseling.
Listen to radio programs wherein advice is given to those with personal problems, and see how the person giving advice interacts with the person who is asking for it. Assess yourself. You must have good people skills, since you will be dealing with students of all ages and with various personalities. If you think you have what it takes, then it's time to go to the next step.
From the start, be aware that each state has different requirements in licensing and certifying school counselors. Know what the requirements in your state are, so you will be guided in preparing. There are helpful websites with the needed information, such as the website of the American School Counselors Association.
Go to college. There is no required undergraduate course, but a degree in Psychology, Social Welfare and Development Studies or Sociology will help. If you live in a state where teaching experience is required to become a school counselor, then you can study Education.
Certification and licensing are requirements you will also have to contend with, depending on your state. Certification as a school counselor is required in all states. This means taking a state-approved certification test.
Licensing is required by some states, and it entails more studying and training, because a master's degree in counseling is a necessary prerequisite. This means an additional two years of study. A practicum is also usually required to be granted a license. On top of that, teaching certificates and experience are required by other states. More tests are required for the teaching certificate, which could be state-specific.
Aside from state requirements, the school of your choice might also have specific requirements. It might ask you to be part of the teaching staff first before you can be considered for the school guidance position.
Ask for a recommendation letter from the school where you graduated from. This will help you when you're applying. Take advantage of internship programs and if it's allowed, go beyond the required number of hours so you'll be able to get more experience. You can also opt to volunteer for a local counseling program or take supplemental counseling courses online.
While you're doing all this, stay focused on your desire to help and guide students. You will be a school guidance counselor in no time.