Getting a guidance counselor job.

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How did you get your start doing guidance counselor work, and what career moves did you make to get to your current position?

Do you need a particular educational background?

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KATE in Harwich, Massachusetts

76 months ago

You need your Master of Ed. in School Counseling. Be sure to get certified in as many areas as possible (it will make you more marketable). Once you have your certification/license; apply for jobs and/or apply for substitute teaching jobs in schools systems to get your foot in the door) Working in any service related field (even waitressing etc.) helps b/c you have to have good, solid people skills with all different walks of life (parents, teacher, kids, administration); human resource jobs are good, too. Mediation skills are important. Good Luck!

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KATE in Harwich, Massachusetts

76 months ago

About my above comment regarding certification in as many areas as possible, I am referring to grade levels (k-12) and adjustment counseling.

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Tania in Bronx, New York

74 months ago

I have an interview for middle school guidance counselor position. This will be my third interview, I'm concern that I'm just going to interview and not getting an offer. Can anyone give me an advice?

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James Grant in Mocksville, North Carolina

74 months ago

You have to believe that you are getting close y having these interviews. Everything is ok on paper. Now you have to concentrate on your interviewing skills.

1. Be confident in yourself.
2. Awnser with feelings conpared to saying what the interviewer wants to hear.
3. Pray, Pray, and Pray.

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maggie in Lancaster, New Hampshire

74 months ago

I love this site! I am way behind all of you. I only have a BS in Psych. and no idea how to get certified in anything! Do you need a Masters of Ed. in School Counseling in every state? How would I find out? Please help! It sounds crazy but I have an interview tomorrow.

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Debra L. Williamson in Columbia, South Carolina

74 months ago

KATE in Harwich, Massachusetts said: You need your Master of Ed. in School Counseling. Be sure to get certified in as many areas as possible (it will make you more marketable). Once you have your certification/license; apply for jobs and/or apply for substitute teaching jobs in schools systems to get your foot in the door) Working in any service related field (even waitressing etc.) helps b/c you have to have good, solid people skills with all different walks of life (parents, teacher, kids, administration); human resource jobs are good, too. Mediation skills are important. Good Luck!

Is there a test for certification? I know you have to take a test to be licensed.

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Mary in Mystic, Connecticut

74 months ago

Regarding school counseling certification...each state's department of education has very specific criteria for certification as a school counselor. Certification in one state does not guarantee recipricosity in another. I suggest you contact the Department of Education website in the state you would like to work and live. Find out what the requirements are. Yes you will need a master's degree, usually in school counseling, but sometimes other master's level counseling programs can be designed to meet the state requirements (I have a MA in Rehabilitation Counseling and was able to meet the certification requirements in my state by doing additional coursework during my program.)

Regarding obtaining cross endorsements in other teaching areas to maximize your job prospects...yes that is great advice...I have four educational certificates...but each subject area/certification has very specific course requirements established by the state department of education. Some require a few courses (3-6) while others require full graduate programs (45 cr. for school counseling, 45 credits for school psych, MSW for school social worker, 36 cr for school administrator, etc).

Bottom line, check with your state's department of education for the specific requirements and which institutions offer approved programs. Some states do offer alternative routes to certification for high shortage fields such as math and science.

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Debra L. Williamson in Columbia, South Carolina

74 months ago

Thank you Mary, now I know where to look for certification requirements. I already have a master's in Guidance and Counseling. I'm just not certified. Thanks so much!!!!

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Debra L. Williamson in Columbia, South Carolina

74 months ago

Thanks again, Mary!!!!

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Antonia in Huntington Station, New York

73 months ago

I have a masters in School Counseling and is very difficult to get a job in Long Island. I am currently working as a Caseworker but I don't really like it because is not my real passion. I don't know what to do...Can I teach with my degree to get my foot in a school? Does it help that I speak fluent Spanish and English?

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Mary in Mystic, Connecticut

73 months ago

I know your struggle all too well! In order to teach you must be certified in that subject area. Check with the New York Department of Education certification division. You may be able to qualify for certification in Spanish under 'emergency certification'. Spanish teachers are in short supply, as are math and science. You will find that your skills as a counselor can be both helpful and troublesome in a classroom environment. Helpful because you have an understanding of why students act out or struggle in class. Troublesome because you will naturally want to take the time to counsel your students in the classroom and there is not time in a teacher's day to do that, nor is it always appropriate to do.

Try substitute teaching or getting involved with an agency that offers programs to school age children and collaborates with guidance staff to recruit for the program. You will be able to make yourself known and develop relationships in order to ask for those all important letters of recommendation.

Good luck.

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Kristen in Shirley, New York

73 months ago

I, too, am from Long Island like Antonia. And let me tell you, it is a full-time job just LOOKING for a guidance counselor job! Unfortunately, I do not have certification in anything else, either; nor do I really want it. I am currently a substitute teacher at my old high school. That is also where I interned. I did have an interview which I did fairly well on. Unbeknownst to me, the panel knew before going into the interview that they were not going to consider me for the position without any experience in the counseling field (my supervisor, who I still remain in contact with, told me.) So then how exactly do I break into the field?! I am truly at a loss, and I am frustrated beyond belief. I understand I may not get a tenured position on my first try, but even Leave Replacement positions are usually given to those who 'know someone.' I am considering relocating (either to MA or RI), and even just looking into these states has become a headache, as well. If anyone has any advice for me on what more I could do to get myself out there, I would utterly appreciate it. I do not want to go back to substitute teaching if I can help it. Please help!!!

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Mary in Mystic, Connecticut

73 months ago

Well let me tell you that it doesn't get any better even with more than 20 years experience!! I left a tenured position of 11 years to take a promotion in another district but prior to obtaining tenure in the new district, they decided to not renew my contract. Now I find it difficult to get interviews because one look at my resume tells the committee I am at the top end of the pay scale and districts seem to prefer less experienced (aka expensive) counselors. I have teaching experience and counseling experience at all grade levels and have managed a department. I have national certification and impeccable references and still could not get an interview for my old job!!!

Education budgets are extremely tight and many administrators don't value what counselors offer students and therefore will not add positions to the budget.

To those of you who are breaking into the field, you must have your certification first. Districts will not consider you without the paperwork. Consider taking a long or short term subbing position. Also look for grant funded/contingent positions.

And once you do get tenure, do not leave the district!!!

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Antonia in Huntington Station, New York

73 months ago

Thank you guys for the advice. And Kristen trust me I know what you are going through. I have to settle for nonsense jobs because I can't get the job I want. I have a masters and I am making no money...I didn't think this was going to be like this. I don't want to be negative...but you can only get a job if you know someone and while I was in school I didn't really network, because I was too busy with a full-time job and going to school full-time. Now I am stuck because I am four mos pregnant (which is a blessing) but I don't have a chance in getting a job once they know I am pregnant so I have to wait.
I didn't think it was this hard especially when all the teachers always came up to me and said I had a great opportunity in getting a job because I am bilingual and that didn't happen.
I think I am going to look into a Spanish certification, hopefully that can open more doors for me.

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Sandy in Syracuse, New York

73 months ago

Host said: How did you get your start doing guidance counselor work, and what career moves did you make to get to your current position?

Do you need a particular educational background?

I have my bachelors degree in sociology with a concentration in CRJ, I want to get my masters degree in Guidance Counseling at the High School level. What is my next step? Is my Bachelors degree sufficient to right to the masters degree level?

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Mary in Mystic, Connecticut

73 months ago

First, what is CRJ?
I can only speak for the state of CT, but I am sure the requirements are similar for most states. Check with your state's department of education certification bureau for specifics. That being said...it is not required that you have a bachelor's degree in education or any specific field. It is advisable that you have some sort of real life experience working with children. You will need a master's degree to become certified and many people choose the School Counselor program. CT increased the requirements to a 45 cr program. You will need to do a master's level practicum and internship. But please check with your state board for specifics!!! You might also look at your state colleges and university for school counseling programs. Many times there is a professor in the department who is the official liason with the bureau of certification for the school counselor program.

Before you embark on an expensive master's level program, check to see what type of growth the field is experiencing in the next decade. Yes there are many boomers who will be retiring from the teaching ranks over the next few years, but school counseling is not considered a shortage area like math and science teaching are. It will be more difficult to get a job. So if you are serious about counseling, look for a college that will allow you to become cross certified in another area, perhaps special education and school counseling. Or look for a counseling program that will qualify you to earn the licensed professional counselor certification (LPC) designation. You will then be able to work as a community counselor and bill some insurance companies for payment.

In other words, try to make yourself as marketable as possible in career areas that are growing or give yourself multiple avenues to pursue for employment. Unfortunately, when school budgets get tight some administrators do not see school counselors as providing real educational value and those positions get cut.

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Sandy in Syracuse, New York

73 months ago

Hi there, thanks for the comment to my question. CRJ is criminal justice by the way. Anyhoo, I will definitely think about what you have said and go to the next step. Your information was very helpful.. sandy (:

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Breezi in Hampton, Virginia

72 months ago

I am considering obtaining my Master's in Guidance Counseling, I have a year of Special Education teaching experience and currently work as a MR Case Manager with the local Community Services Board. I am somewhat hesitant to pursue a degree in this field because I have been told that it is diffcult to get a job after graduation due to competition and a shortage of open positions. Does anyone in the Hampton Roads area know about the job prospects here? I don't want to have to move out of state to get a job. Thanks for your thoughts.

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greezy13 in Winchester, Virginia

70 months ago

I am currently a junior at a college and have been studying business and computer information systems but i now realized that i dont want to pursue those careers and want to help others. I thought guidance counselling would be a great job for me. This being said, i am at the very beginning of the road to becoming a guidance counselor. I've been reading the posts above and it is a little discouraging reading that it is a difficult job to obtain. I am in Virginia so if anyone has any insight on Couselling in VA and information on my road to becoming a guidance counselor it would be much appreciated.

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Tburger in Eugene, Oregon

68 months ago

KATE in Harwich, Massachusetts said: You need your Master of Ed. in School Counseling. Be sure to get certified in as many areas as possible (it will make you more marketable). Once you have your certification/license; apply for jobs and/or apply for substitute teaching jobs in schools systems to get your foot in the door) Working in any service related field (even waitressing etc.) helps b/c you have to have good, solid people skills with all different walks of life (parents, teacher, kids, administration); human resource jobs are good, too. Mediation skills are important. Good Luck!

What doo you mean by "be certified in as many areas as possible?"

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grad student in Woodstown, New Jersey

68 months ago

I found this site with questions you may be asked.

www.schoolcounselor.com/resources/interview.htm

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grad student in Woodstown, New Jersey

68 months ago

I am not a teacher, never worked in a school, but I am obtaining my M,Ed and I love what i have learned. Makes so much sense. I am looking for a place to complete my 300 practicum hours where I can work at night. Since I do not work in the field and with this economy I cannot just up and quit a paying job. That would be silly. I also have a baby on the way and I am due in late Aug. I am trying to find ideas on how to get my hours done ASAP and still hold down a job. Any ideas would help. My husband is a business owner so I carry the benefits. I was assuming I could take a longer maternity leave and complete the hours after the birth. Not sure. Does anyone have any ideas?

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grad student in Woodstown, New Jersey

68 months ago

Debra L. Williamson in Columbia, South Carolina said: How do I get certified, I have a Master's degree in Ed. Guidance and Counseling. I did my practicum in community counseling. HOw do I get certified to work in a school setting?

Contact your state department of education in their licensing and credentials dept. I know NJ has a website where u can see what is required.

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grad student in Woodstown, New Jersey

68 months ago

Shell in Bayside, New York said: I live in Bayside too...funny! I was looking up interview questions because I have an interview for a Guidance Counselor position on Wednesday...You need your Master's in School Counseling to be a Guidance Counselor. You can have your Bachelor's in anything.

Good Luck!

www.schoolcounselor.com/resources/interview.htm

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sisophous in New York, New York

68 months ago

There is a lot of great advice posted at this website. I wanted to echo part of it while share my experiences with the school counseling field.

I have a bachelor’s degree and two masters degrees, an MBA and a MA in school counseling. Before pursuing a school counseling degree I strongly suggest you consider not just the desirable aspects of school counseling but also the downside to breaking into this field. I have only been able to land three interviews for school counseling position openings in the past three years and could not break into the field. In my opinion, you have to have a solid contact with pull that can assist you in landing a job as a school counselor. Sending out resumes with coverletters is only marginally helpful, most just get lost in a folder or soon tossed in the garbage can. Do not think like I did and figure with your credentials you will eventually land a job or that networking will eventually pay off. For some I’m sure it does but for others they will become exasperated in their search. I recall one of my counseling professors who also worked as the director of her high school counseling department in Long Island, NY comment she received over 500 resumes for a single school counseling opening at her school. At this point, I feel to get my foot in the door at a school would mean to work for free and volunteer my time at a large school for perhaps a year until an opening should arise. Or, go back to school and get certified in another area and try to work in that specialty with the hope of crossing over to counseling.

I’ve tried many ways to work as a school counselor. I tried to break into the Archdiocese of New York schools (private schools) but found the schools ask many personal questions about religion, such as where I attended church, my volunteer experience with my church, and other such questions of a private matter to weed out people that do not match their personal values/experiences. Being I am not a religious person and do n

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sisophous in New York, New York

68 months ago

(CONTINUED)

Being I am not a religious person and do not have volunteer experience, the Catholic schools were not a good match for me.

As mentioned in a previous post, New York does have a “reciprocity” agreement with other States whereby the school certification requirements in one state are recognized by other states. This would qualify an individual with certification to apply to public schools outside his/her home state once the paper work required is submitted and paid a fee. Thus, I considered applying for school counseling positions in the State of Texas where they are among a few states that have such an agreement with New York State. However, to apply for Texas State certification they require a letter from the New York State Education department confirming I am certified. So, I contacted the New York State Education department and made this request only to be told they will not send such a letter to the Texas Education department with no explanation given. So much for this bogus reciprocity agreement, one state will not cooperate with the requests of the other state. New York State Department of Education is utterly useless IMO.

I also considered working internationally as a school counselor thinking I may have less competition than in the States. Not so! To even be considered for a school counselor position at the many international schools around the world, they want a minimum of two years work experience. Such openings abroad are extremely competitive and most schools recruit to fill positions via international agencies such as Search Associates, that screens candidates and then holds fairs in major cities throughout the year.

The bottom line, if you know someone that you can depend upon once you become certified to help in landing a job at a school then you may be well off. However, if you think networking will eventually pay off think again. My experience in job hunting taught me while there are many school counseling position openings po

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sisophous in New York, New York

68 months ago

(CONTINUED)
My experience in job hunting taught me while there are many school counseling position openings posted, there are just too many people out there with Masters degrees in School Counseling competing for these jobs.

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lellman in Chicago, Illinois

67 months ago

I could not agree more with the comments of Sisophous. It has been virtually impossible for me to get a counseling position. I ended up having to move to Chicago to take a part-time counseling job just so that I could get some experience. I had no luck in the New York area despite my previous experiences assisting in schools both in the United States and internationally. I graduated with top scores and plenty of awards from my graduate program for my excellence in service and academics. I speak Spanish fluently. I am still trying to find a counseling position in New York, but am considering going back and getting a teaching degree in a high need area because I don't want to give up on working in the schools! It's my passion. Good luck to you and I hope you have a better job search experience than I have had!

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Debra in Columbia,SC in Columbia, South Carolina

67 months ago

I understand all of the above issues in getting into the Guidance Counseling field. I have found that to get certified you usually still need experience, as of which I don't have. Is there any way to get experience that leads to certification? A lot of the licensing questions rely heavely on knowing the schools system and classroom protocal, of which I don't know.

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Lori in Clarksville, Tennessee

67 months ago

I have my Masters in School counseling and am certified in TN but can still not find a job. I have been on 3 interviews and still not been hired. Either my interviewing skills are awful or there are a lot of people trying to get a few jobs. Anyone got any good advice on interviewing for a school counselor position? I am bummed because I feel like I am doing something totally wrong in the interviews!

Thanks,

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drmalcolm in Millersville, Maryland

65 months ago

Hello, all.

I cannot thank you all enough for sharing your experiences.

I have been teaching English and composition at the community college level for several years as an adjunct. There are hundreds of resumes for each FT professor position (most of whom have a PhD), and I made the decision to change careers to a field where there is a definite need rather than so much competition.

For the past two months, I've been throwing around several degree programs and finally decided on the MEd in School Counseling at my alma mater here in Maryland. I am so sorry that all of you are having so much trouble finding work, but I do thank you for helping me avoid the same problem I already have in the field of teaching English. I think I'll reconsider the other programs in social work that caught my eye.

Best of luck to all of you!

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sopesolu in Denville, New Jersey

63 months ago

I recieved my bachelors degree in Psychology back in 2007 from Bloomfield College. I have 2 years experience working in the HR field. due to the recession, the company I was working for downsized and laid off a number of people and I was one of them. I am looking into going back to school for my masters in School Counseling either at Rutgers, Kean University or William Paterson. from everyone's experience, what would you advice someone like me to do? I believe my background in HR is a good place to start with, I volunteer at my church and I am currently working with my church to start a non-profit organization for youths in our community that would cater to thier needs of looking for a job, career advice and school advice. I was thinking about looking for positions as a substitute teacher or volunteer in a high school so I could get my foot into the door. Any more advice anyone? also what is the maximum score on the GRE?

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sisophous in New York, New York

63 months ago

Debra in Columbia,SC in Columbia, South Carolina said: I understand all of the above issues in getting into the Guidance Counseling field. I have found that to get certified you usually still need experience, as of which I don't have. Is there any way to get experience that leads to certification? A lot of the licensing questions rely heavely on knowing the schools system and classroom protocal, of which I don't know.

Everyone has to complete an internship and have a specific number of hours logged. As to how many hours one needs, it all depends upon the university one attends and their requirements. Some programs require twice the number of hours than others. You must complete an accredited program in addition to logging hours. In New York for instance, some schools require students to earn 60 credits before earning their certification (Lehman College)but the ceritification is permanent in New York State. While other schools such as Manhattan College, require 33-34 credits to earn certification but this is only provisional certification. Students must earn the remaining credits totalling 60 within a five year period. It can seem confusing and requirements differ state by state. From my experience, people who get hired as a school counselor know someone who helps pull strings. A solid resume if you are lucky may get you an interview but seldom will you get hired without some assistance by a third party. It's not what you know, it is who you know, sadly.

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sisophous in New York, New York

63 months ago

Lori in Clarksville, Tennessee said: I have my Masters in School counseling and am certified in TN but can still not find a job. I have been on 3 interviews and still not been hired. Either my interviewing skills are awful or there are a lot of people trying to get a few jobs. Anyone got any good advice on interviewing for a school counselor position? I am bummed because I feel like I am doing something totally wrong in the interviews!

Thanks,

I doubt it is your interviewing skills that are not up to par. If this is the case, then there is a preponderance of certified school counselors with awful interviewing skills since many of us are having no luck getting hired or landing an interview for that matter. What is most important is focusing on networking. Make friends when enrolled in a program and ask around about anticipated openings at schools. The only other thing I can think of if you are willing to really go the extra mile is to work p/t for free for a year or two. This would get one's foot in the door and you would have to hope that an opening would develop at your school. Most schools do not mind interns as they get people to help out without paying them a cent. Schools are required to supervise the intern, but for the most part they go about their own jobs which are often hectic and did not invest much into watching over me. Working for free would be like working long term as an intern, that's just my take on this topic.

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sisophous in New York, New York

63 months ago

sopesolu in Denville, New Jersey said: I recieved my bachelors degree in Psychology back in 2007 from Bloomfield College. I have 2 years experience working in the HR field. due to the recession, the company I was working for downsized and laid off a number of people and I was one of them. I am looking into going back to school for my masters in School Counseling either at Rutgers, Kean University or William Paterson. from everyone's experience, what would you advice someone like me to do? I believe my background in HR is a good place to start with, I volunteer at my church and I am currently working with my church to start a non-profit organization for youths in our community that would cater to thier needs of looking for a job, career advice and school advice. I was thinking about looking for positions as a substitute teacher or volunteer in a high school so I could get my foot into the door. Any more advice anyone? also what is the maximum score on the GRE?

Volunteering is probably your best option to get one's foot in the door. I tried to work as a substitute teacher in the NYC school system and was told by the Board of Education that while I do have a teacher certificate, it is in the specialty of "school counselor" and does not permit me to get hired as a substitute teacher. I would have to return to school and get certified as a "teacher", meaning I would have to earn a ton more credits. Private schools are a different matter, they can hire a school counselor and make that person fill a slot as a substitute teacher. For the most part this is all nonsense because if you do get hired as a school counselor in a public school system, there is a good chance the administration will make you also teach some course which you are never even trained in.

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Littlesdelsol93 in Riverview, Florida

63 months ago

I will be finishing my masters in school and guidance counseling in the state of florida this fall. We have 3 certification tests (general education, professional education and K-12 guidance counseling) Does anybody know if those certifications transfer to any other states without taking the Praxis I & II? Or should i be on the safe side and take them both? They seem like they would be the same type of exams.

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Christina in Millersville, Maryland

63 months ago

Hi there,
I'm not sure if I'm answering your question completely, but you need to pass Praxis I to even enter into a School Counseling M.Ed.program here in Maryland; with that in mind, I'm guessing that qualifications do differ from state to state with regard to Praxis.

Good luck with your studies!

Christina

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need2workinaschool in Lindenhurst, New York

61 months ago

Has anyone from the Long Island NY area that has their certification in school counseling got a substitute teaching job?

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sisophous in New York, New York

61 months ago

Need2work,

I am from Westchester, NY but I can give you some feedback that likely will answer your question.

I have NY State certification, my teacher certificate, not to literally "teach" but specifically as a "school counselor". I went to the New York City Board of Education trying to apply for a substitute teaching job in NYC and was told I could not without being certified. I was told if someone earns their teaching degree they are not qualified to work as a school counselor and the reverse applies to me, I am not qualified to be a teacher in a PUBLIC school setting without my certification. It is all a bunch of nonsense, in fact my NYState school counselor certificate says "TEACHERS CERTIFICATE" at the top but applies only to my specialty.

I would like to point out this all applies to the public school setting, not necessarily the private schools. Most private schools, NOT affiliated with the State or the City in some way, can do whatever they want and hire people as they wish, without specific qualifications. I applied to the Archdiocese of NY, schools with a religious affiliation, but that too had a negative outcome. I was questioned often when applying for jobs, both in interviews and on applications about my volunteer service to the CHURCH and my church services over the years. Being I am not a religious person, I had nothing to mention or list. This I am sure blacklisted me or got me excluded immediately from their potential list of candidates.

There is a lot on nonsense going on and a deliberate effort by New York State and New York City to make things difficult to enter this field as a school counselor.

I am not saying the whole country is as bad as New York but this region frankly stinks. As I said repeatedly, you need a contact, someone to pull strings for you

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need2workinaschool in Patchogue, New York

61 months ago

Thanks Sisophous. I have been trying to get a job on Long Island for about 2 years now. I have been out of the field for five years to raise my children, and I think that puts me in a bad spot too. We have actually been considering very seriously to move to NC. I just had 2 interviews down there recently to no avail. I believe with the state of the economy the jobs down there are about as competitive as here, Everybody is looking to move where the jobs are.

It is so sad that the politics are so ingrained in the school systems that you need to know somebody in order to get a job. When I was going for my degree I never thought it would be this way. I was so excited to get a job and start working. Luckily I did get a job in a Catholic School in Brooklyn right after 9/11, because otherwise I would have no experience up to this point. I left there thinking it would be really easy to get another job since I have experience, but I ended up taking in a job in a school not as a counselor but as an instructor in a grant funded program called Reconnecting Youth. I worked with at risk youth in small groups teaching life/social/academic skills. It was a great experience, but I was excessed after a year and a half due to budget problems. Then I had my daughter and then my son. Here I am working as a per Diem Pharmacy Tech for the past 2.5 years. I need to find a way to break into a school, or I have to change my career altogether.

Thanks for letting me vent.

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sisophous in New York, New York

61 months ago

needtowork,

I wish you luck with the job search. I had a similar experience as you. Never did I imagine that breaking into a school would be so difficult. I would never had spent the time, money and effort to earn this counseling degree had I known what I do now. North Carolina would be a nice fit if you could find work. A mild climate and lower cost of living make it attractive. I'm not so sure how eager they would be to hire someone from not just out of state but from the northeast. Unless they need someone with a specific skill that they can't find locally, it sounds extremely competitive to get hired there, just my guess. What I saw while attending school to earn my degree were nearly all the students had been already employed in a school system but doing something they did not like and wanted to switch into counseling. Most were teachers or in some administrative position. Many worked at the college too in some capacity, sometimes in clerical jobs and got free tuition being they worked at the college. So, many of these people are not at a huge loss if they don't get hired as a counselor, they still maintain their jobs. It is very difficult to find a full time job these days. Just a thought, it may be worth looking for a p/t job in a school, almost anything (even if you are way over-qualified) just to get hired and after a year apply for a position when something opens. I gave up a good paying job to make a career change and it was a poor choice thus far. If you do choose to change your career altogether, don't make the same mistake I did. Make sure there are job vacancies in that field and ones anticipated for the upcoming years so you don't run into a wall like I did. The nursing field is expected to be in high demand and I know there are always special education job openings. Burnout in these fields is common and they have a high turnover. Best to you.

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Jeremy in Farmington, Michigan

61 months ago

Hello all. I have a pretty unique background. I have a BBA in marketing and a MA in education. After much thought, I think I would like to become a guidance counselor, but I'm not sure what I need to do. I've read about needing to get certified, but I'm not sure if that means as a teacher or a guidance counselor. The Michigan DOE was no help. If there is anyone in Michigan who can help me out with some information that would be totally awesome.

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sisophous in New York, New York

61 months ago

Hi Jeremy,

This is what I did and you may want to do the same, just a thought. I went back to my school where I earned my undergraduate degree and spoke with the department head of the school counseling program. At the time, I had no idea what was required. The programs at schools vary widely and you should research the schools and find out their specific requirements to earn certification. Some schools require double the number of hours in an internship than others. Some allow you to get provisional certification after earning only 33 credits. At my school I worked as an intern and completed it in just one semester while some school require 2 semesters of internship experience or more. I don't know about Michigan, but you will get answers quickest and most accurately by speaking with department heads and cut through all the nonsense in dealing with the department of education. They are notorious for being incompetent and unhelpful, at least in New York they are.

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Lisa in Mystic, Connecticut

58 months ago

I have read all of your comments and they have been so informative. I am at a crosswroads because I want to be a School Counselor but I am so scared that there will not be a position when I graduate. I have thought about becoming certified as a Teacher first than going for certification for School Counseling. I hope Mary in Mystic, CT sees this because I would benefit with some more advice from her because she lives so close to me. I am also worried that some states like RI require Teacher certification while others (like CT) do not.

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Mary in Mystic, Connecticut

58 months ago

Hi Lisa,
There are lots of factors that go into choosing a career. Job growth and employment options are just a few things to consider. I have been in this profession for more than twenty four years, sixteen as a tenured school counselor and eight as a teacher. I need to tell you that I applied for 113 positions prior to getting the one I currently have. Not all of those were in education/counseling, but I applied to so many positions that I was obviously qualified for and included impecable references and experience that it caused me to wonder what was wrong. School counseling positions are often eliminated from school budgets when positions must be cut. Those of us with more years of experience cost districts more than newly minted counselors. Age discrimination is subtle. You might have more employment options available to you as a new counselor.

As for teacher certification...I think it makes you a more effective school counselor. Obviously I have a bias. Having been in the classroom gives you a definite advantage and more confidence when conducting large group developmental guidance lessons. It also gives you some credibility with teachers when you can talk their language and walk in their shoes while advising them about student concerns. Lastly, you will find that as a school counselor with a caseload of 300 or more students you will discover that you don't actually do as much individual or small group counseling as you might think one should do. Much of your time will be spent with clerical duties and quasi administrative duties. Eventually, further on in your career you may start looking for a career path in education that leads to career promotion, advancement and of course salary increases. The only way to truly advance your career in education is to move into administration. If you even think you might want to do that someday you will need a solid teaching background to move into administration. Without that you have few admin options.

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Sadie22000

58 months ago

Debra I am one of three in my graduate program who was a teacher before and I have yet to find a counseling job since graduating in may 2008 I thought it would give me an advantage but my classmates with almost no classroom or public school experience got jobs it's because they knew someone or they were lucky I should never have done this program in Massachusetts it's too competitive and impossible to break into unless you have a connection it's heartbreaking and frustrating and I wish I has researched more before I chose this program that is so specific I wish I had done an MSW but good luck to everyone still trying

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Lisa in Mystic, Connecticut

58 months ago

Thank you Mary for responding to what I wrote. You gave me great advice to think about but I am at a crossroads of what to do. I was actually thinking of seeking Teachers certification as well as a School Counseling degree. It is such a hard decision. Thank you everyone else for sharing your thoughts.

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Mary in Mystic, Connecticut

58 months ago

Lisa if you are at a crossroads and thinking about getting a teacher certificate look for a field that is considered a shortage area, like foreign languages (spanish, latin, french) or math, science and special education. Those fields offer a lot of opportunities. You will not waste valuable time or money pursuing a degree. The CT SDE publishes a list of shortage fields on its website. You can always pursue a school counseling graduate program part time in the evening. Lots of us have worked full time in education while going to school for additional teaching certs. I do not think you will be able to find a graduate program that allows you to become certified as both a teacher and school counselor at the same time.
If on the other hand you are certain that you will not have a satisfying career as a teacher, and want to COUNSEL then strongly consider a program in school psychology. As a school psychologist you will actually provide individual and small group counseling. You will conduct psychological testing and be actively involved in RTI (Response to Intervention). Graduate programs in school psychology require a few more credits than school counseling programs. Most importantly, school psychology is considered a shortage area and there are plenty of jobs available. You will not have to worry about finding a job. Additionally, if you do want to move up the career ladder and go into administration, you will be able to move into a Director of Pupil Services or Director of Special Education position.
If I had to do it all over again knowing what I know now....
Good luck. Mary

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Christina in Millersville, Maryland

58 months ago

Great advice from Mary about considering the field if you do decide to get certified to teach. For instance, I am currently an English teacher, and the field is pretty saturated. I recently caught up with a friend who is a Vice Principal, and he suggested Special Ed.

If you do go into a School Psychology, be prepared that it seems to be a bit more an intensive program than the School Counseling degree (not to dissuade you, but just to prepare you). You might also consider an MSW, as many schools now employ school social workers (and there are plenty of prospects in the field of SW).

Best of luck to all of you!

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