School or Career Counselor or Advisor

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Job Outlook:
Faster than average
Education: Master's degree
High: $98,530.00
Average: $64,200.00
Average: $30.87

What they do:

Advise and assist students and provide educational and vocational guidance services.

On the job, you would:

  • Provide crisis intervention to students when difficult situations occur at schools.
  • Confer with parents or guardians, teachers, administrators, and other professionals to discuss children's progress, resolve behavioral, academic, and other problems, and to determine priorities for students and their resource needs.
  • Identify cases of domestic abuse or other family problems and encourage students or parents to seek additional assistance from mental health professionals.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. School and career counselors and advisors interpret student records, schoolwide data, and assessments to match interests and abilities with potential careers.

Compassion. School and career counselors and advisors often work with people who are dealing with stressful and difficult situations, so they must be able to empathize with their clients and students.

Interpersonal skills. School and career counselors and advisors must be able to work with people of all backgrounds and personalities. They need to form and maintain collaborative relationships with clients, students, or other professionals.

Listening skills. School and career counselors and advisors need to give full attention to students and clients in order to understand their problems.

Speaking skills. School and career counselors and advisors must communicate effectively with clients and students. They should express ideas and information in a way that their clients and students understand.


A3 Your Strengths Importance

Characteristics of this Career

99% Concern for Others  -  Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
98% Integrity  -  Job requires being honest and ethical.
97% Cooperation  -  Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
95% Dependability  -  Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
94% Social Orientation  -  Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
94% Self-Control  -  Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
92% Adaptability/Flexibility  -  Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
90% Independence  -  Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
90% Stress Tolerance  -  Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
89% Attention to Detail  -  Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
87% Leadership  -  Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
86% Initiative  -  Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
79% Persistence  -  Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
77% Analytical Thinking  -  Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
73% Achievement/Effort  -  Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
71% Innovation  -  Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
A3 Your Strengths Importance


100% Social  -  Work involves helping, teaching, advising, assisting, or providing service to others. Social occupations are often associated with social, health care, personal service, teaching/education, or religious activities.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Values of the Work Environment

100% Relationships  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
72% Achievement  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
67% Working Conditions  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
61% Recognition  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
61% Independence  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.


A3 Your Strengths Importance

Abilities | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

81% Oral Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
78% Written Comprehension  -  The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
78% Oral Comprehension  -  The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
78% Problem Sensitivity  -  The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
75% Written Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
72% Speech Clarity  -  The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
72% Deductive Reasoning  -  The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
72% Inductive Reasoning  -  The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Skills | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

73% Social Perceptiveness  -  Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Job Details

Confer with family members to discuss client treatment plans or progress.
Collaborate with other professionals to assess client needs or plan treatments.
Evaluate characteristics of individuals to determine needs or eligibility.
Evaluate potential problems in home or work environments of clients.
Counsel clients regarding interpersonal issues.
Counsel clients regarding educational or vocational issues.
Collaborate with other professionals to develop education or assistance programs.
Maintain professional social services knowledge.
Plan programs to address community mental wellness needs.
Present social services program information to the public.
Develop educational policies.
Develop working relationships with others to facilitate program activities.
Promote educational institutions or programs.
Train staff members in social services skills.
Supervise workers providing client or patient services.
Counsel clients regarding educational or vocational issues.
Counsel clients regarding interpersonal issues.
Counsel clients or patients regarding personal issues.
Complete documentation required by programs or regulations.
Intervene in crisis situations to assist clients.
Counsel clients regarding educational or vocational issues.
Counsel clients regarding educational or vocational issues.
Lead classes or community events.
Interview clients to gather information about their backgrounds, needs, or progress.
Write reports or evaluations.
Complete documentation required by programs or regulations.
Plan programs to address community mental wellness needs.
Lead classes or community events.
Assess individual or community needs for educational or social services.
Refer individuals to educational or work programs.
Refer clients to community or social service programs.
Teach life skills or strategies to clients or their families.
Present social services program information to the public.
Advise others on social or educational issues.
Evaluate characteristics of individuals to determine needs or eligibility.
Write reports or evaluations.
Refer individuals to educational or work programs.
Develop educational programs.
Assist clients in handling details of daily life.
Interview clients to gather information about their backgrounds, needs, or progress.
Plan programs to address community mental wellness needs.
Supervise workers providing client or patient services.
Refer individuals to educational or work programs.
Plan programs to address community mental wellness needs.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Attributes & Percentage of Time Spent

100% Electronic Mail  -  How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
100% Face-to-Face Discussions  -  How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
99% Contact With Others  -  How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
98% Indoors, Environmentally Controlled  -  How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
96% Work With Work Group or Team  -  How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
95% Telephone  -  How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
86% Frequency of Conflict Situations  -  How often are there conflict situations the employee has to face in this job?
84% Coordinate or Lead Others  -  How important is it to coordinate or lead others in accomplishing work activities in this job?
82% Structured versus Unstructured Work  -  To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
81% Freedom to Make Decisions  -  How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
80% Frequency of Decision Making  -  How frequently is the worker required to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the image and reputation of the organization?
76% Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People  -  How frequently does the worker have to deal with unpleasant, angry, or discourteous individuals as part of the job requirements?
74% Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results  -  What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the image or reputation or financial resources of your employer?
67% Letters and Memos  -  How often does the job require written letters and memos?
66% Deal With External Customers  -  How important is it to work with external customers or the public in this job?
66% Time Pressure  -  How often does this job require the worker to meet strict deadlines?
76% Duration of Typical Work Week  -  Number of hours typically worked in one week.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Tasks & Values

89% Assisting and Caring for Others  -  Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
89% Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships  -  Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
88% Getting Information  -  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
87% Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates  -  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
83% Making Decisions and Solving Problems  -  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
82% Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work  -  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
81% Working with Computers  -  Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
78% Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others  -  Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
77% Documenting/Recording Information  -  Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
77% Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge  -  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
77% Providing Consultation and Advice to Others  -  Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
77% Developing Objectives and Strategies  -  Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
75% Coaching and Developing Others  -  Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
75% Scheduling Work and Activities  -  Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
75% Training and Teaching Others  -  Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
75% Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others  -  Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
74% Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events  -  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
73% Communicating with People Outside the Organization  -  Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
72% Performing for or Working Directly with the Public  -  Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
70% Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People  -  Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
69% Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards  -  Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
66% Thinking Creatively  -  Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.

What School and Career Counselors and Advisors Do

School and career counselors
Career counselors assist people with the process of making career decisions.

School counselors help students develop academic and social skills and plans for after graduation. Career counselors and advisors help students and other clients develop skills, explore an occupation, or choose an educational program that will lead to a career.


School counselors typically do the following:

  • Help students understand and overcome social or behavioral challenges
  • Analyze data to identify factors, such as poor attendance, that negatively affect academic performance
  • Advise individuals and small groups based on their needs
  • Work with students to develop skills that support learning, such as effective time management and study habits
  • Evaluate students’ abilities and interests through aptitude assessments and interviews
  • Collaborate with teachers and families to help students plan academic, career, and social goals
  • Teach students and school staff about specific topics such as bullying and drug use
  • Present options to students for educational or vocational plans after graduation
  • Maintain records as required
  • Report cases of possible neglect or abuse and refer students and parents to resources for additional support

The specific duties of school counselors vary with their students' ages.

Elementary school counselors visit classrooms or meet with students individually or in groups to help them develop their social and academic skills. They also meet with parents or guardians to discuss the child’s strengths and weaknesses, challenges, or special needs. School counselors work with teachers and administrators to ensure that the curriculum addresses students’ developmental and academic needs.

Middle school counselors work with school staff and families to help students improve their decision-making, study, and social skills. These counselors support students going through challenges in school or at home and offer one-on-one meetings to discuss these challenges. Middle school counselors also assist students in their transition to high school, preparing them for the next level of academic and social development.

High school counselors advise students in making academic and career plans. Many help students overcome personal issues that interfere with their academic development. They help students choose classes and plan for their lives after graduation. Counselors provide information about choosing and applying for colleges, training programs, financial aid, and internships and apprenticeships. They may present career lessons to help students learn how to search and apply for jobs.

Career counselors and advisors typically do the following:

  • Use aptitude and achievement assessments to help students or clients evaluate their interests, skills, and abilities
  • Evaluate students’ or clients’ background, education, and training, to help them develop realistic goals
  • Guide students in making decisions about careers, such as choosing an occupation and the type of degree to pursue
  • Help students select and apply for educational programs to obtain the necessary degrees, credentials, and skills
  • Teach students or clients job-search skills, such as interviewing and networking
  • Assist clients in locating and applying for jobs, by teaching them strategies that will be helpful in finding openings and writing a résumé

The specific duties of career counselors and advisors vary by student or client.

Career coaches work with people who have already entered the workforce. These counselors develop plans with customized objectives and activities to improve their clients’ careers. They motivate their clients and support them to achieve the goals they set together. Career coaches also provide advice about entering a new occupation or helping to resolve workplace issues.

College advisors help students choose a major or determine the jobs they are qualified for with their degrees. These advisors also help people find and get jobs by teaching them job search, résumé writing, and interviewing techniques. College advisors often specialize in counseling students in one area of the college experience, such as admissions or financial aid.

Some career counselors work in outplacement firms and assist laid-off workers with transitioning into new jobs or careers.

Work Environment

School and career counselors and advisors held about 342,400 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of school and career counselors and advisors were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private 46%
Junior colleges, colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 38
Healthcare and social assistance 6
Other educational services; state, local, and private 4
Self-employed workers 1

Work Schedules

Both types of counselors and advisors usually work full time. Most counselors and advisors who work in schools and colleges may not work when school is not in session, such as during the summer.

Getting Started

Master's Degree
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED)

How to Become a School or Career Counselor or Advisor

School and career counselors
Career counselors who work in private practices may also need a license.

School counselors typically must have a master’s degree in school counseling or a related field and have a state-issued credential. Some states require licensure for career counselors and advisors.


Nearly all states and the District of Columbia require school counselors to have a master's degree, which is typically in a field such as counseling or psychology. Degree programs teach counselors the essential skills of the job, such as how to foster development; conduct group and individual counseling; work with support systems, such as parents, school staff, and community organizations; and use data to develop, implement, and evaluate comprehensive counseling programs. These programs often require counselors to complete an internship.

Some employers prefer that career counselors have a master’s degree in counseling with a focus on career development. Career counseling programs prepare students to assess clients’ skills and interests and to teach career development techniques. For career or academic advisors, employers may prefer candidates who have a bachelor’s degree and work experience.

Master’s degree programs in counseling usually require students to have a period of supervised experience, such as an internship.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Public school counselors must have a state-issued credential to practice. Depending on the state, this credential may be called a certification, a license, or an endorsement. Obtaining this credential typically requires a master’s degree in school counseling, an internship or practicum completed under the supervision of a licensed professional school counselor, and successful completion of a test.

Some employers prefer or require candidates to have classroom teaching experience, or to hold a teaching license, prior to being certified. Most states require a criminal background check as part of the credentialing process. Information about requirements for each state is available from the American School Counselor Association.

Some states require licensure for career counselors; check with your state for more information. Contact information for state regulating boards is available from the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Optional certifications for career and academic advisors are available from some professional associations.

Job Outlook

Employment of school and career counselors and advisors is projected to grow 5 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 26,600 openings for school and career counselors and advisors are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.


Schools are expected to hire more counselors and advisors to respond to the developmental, academic, and career-planning needs of their students. Demand for career counselors is projected to increase as a growing number of colleges and universities open career centers that focus on helping students prepare to enter the workforce.

Career counselors and advisors also will be needed to assist jobseekers, such as those changing careers, laid-off workers looking for jobs, and military veterans transitioning into the civilian labor market.

Contacts for More Information

For more information about counseling and information about counseling specialties, visit

American Counseling Association

For more information about school counselors, visit

American School Counselor Association

For more information about career counselors and advisors, visit

National Career Development Association

For more information about state credentialing, visit

National Board for Certified Counselors

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of school and career counselors and advisors.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2022
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High school teachers teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market.

Bachelor's degree $62,360
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct young students in basic subjects in order to prepare them for future schooling.

Bachelor's degree $61,620
Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists Marriage and Family Therapists

Marriage and family therapists help people manage and overcome problems with family and other relationships.

Master's degree $56,570
Middle school teachers Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers educate students, typically in sixth through eighth grades.

Bachelor's degree $61,810
Psychologists Psychologists

Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how individuals relate to one another and to their environments.

See How to Become One $85,330
Rehabilitation counselors Rehabilitation Counselors

Rehabilitation counselors help people with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities live independently.

Master's degree $39,990
Social and community service managers Social and Community Service Managers

Social and community service managers coordinate and supervise programs and organizations that support public well-being.

Bachelor's degree $74,240
Social and human service assistants Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants provide client services in a variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work.

High school diploma or equivalent $38,520
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors advise people on a range of issues, such as those relating to alcoholism, addictions, or depression.

Bachelor's degree $49,710
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Training and development specialists plan and administer programs that improve the skills and knowledge of their employees.

Bachelor's degree $63,080

Information provided by CareerFitter, LLC and other sources.

Sections of this page includes information from the O*NET 27.3 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

CareerFitter, LLC has modified all or some of this information. USDOL/ETA has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.