What else can I do with a School Counseling degree?

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Sonja in Austin, Texas

47 months ago

I would suggest looking into academic advising positions at your local community college. I was a middle school counselor in CA for 3 years before moving to TX, and took an advising position at a community college while I transferred my school counseling certification to Texas and waited on the right public school opening. After two years gaining a lot of valuable experience in college admissions, I have just recently been hired as a middle school counselor in a really great district and am happy to be transitioning back. Don't lose faith! This is a hard field, especially if you don't have teaching experience to back it (if you don't, become a substitute for a while and take on any long-term assignments that you can!, but I'm a firm believer in the right thing happening in its own time.

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kyteacher in London, Kentucky

47 months ago

I just applied for an academic advising position at the community college. However, I believe top pay is about 42,000 & that is 10,000 less than I make teaching. I'm not sure I can afford the cut in pay even if they will hire me.

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kyteacher in London, Kentucky

47 months ago

I just applied for an academic advising position at the community college. However, I believe top pay is about 42,000 & that is 10,000 less than I make teaching. I'm not sure I can afford the cut in pay even if they will hire me.

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Kt1278 in Mckinney, Texas

47 months ago

Melissa in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania said: I just went to yet another school counselor job interview and got a letter, the next day, saying I was not selected....does that sound like they needed to interview a qualified candidate so they could give the job to the person they knew had it already or what? I have years of experience, none teaching, and currently work in research for the lady who invented the Depression Inventory for kids! I have my Student Assistance Certification and my LPC!!! Still, no luck yet and many other people I graduated with - in 2007 - are in the same boat!!!! Do not go to school for school counseling if you can choose now. If you already did, best of luck to you! I am disappointed that all the money and years I have spent at school/working have amounted to only a "casual" position = money but no benefits! I wish you all the best of luck.

I'm not sure what state you are in, but NO district in Texas will hire you without teaching experience! I taught for ten years before I got a middle school counselor position. The two problems are: budgets for counseling positions, and most principals want someone with a lot of experience in school/ classrooms! You ladies are freaking out for nothing! Also, the better the program you get your masters degree at, the more prepared you will be! There is still a need for QUALIFIED Counselors in schools, but it must be more than your "paper" qualifications! Keep trying, every person these days had to get rejected many times, no matter what industry you work in.
Last thing, maybe your resume and interview skills need some tweaking. Just a thought....

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Kt1278 in Mckinney, Texas

47 months ago

Melissa in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania said: I just went to yet another school counselor job interview and got a letter, the next day, saying I was not selected....does that sound like they needed to interview a qualified candidate so they could give the job to the person they knew had it already or what? I have years of experience, none teaching, and currently work in research for the lady who invented the Depression Inventory for kids! I have my Student Assistance Certification and my LPC!!! Still, no luck yet and many other people I graduated with - in 2007 - are in the same boat!!!! Do not go to school for school counseling if you can choose now. If you already did, best of luck to you! I am disappointed that all the money and years I have spent at school/working have amounted to only a "casual" position = money but no benefits! I wish you all the best of luck.

I'm not sure what state you are in, but NO district in Texas will hire you without teaching experience! I taught for ten years before I got a middle school counselor position. The two problems are: budgets for counseling positions, and most principals want someone with a lot of experience in school/ classrooms! You ladies are freaking out for nothing! Also, the better the program you get your masters degree at, the more prepared you will be! There is still a need for QUALIFIED Counselors in schools, but it must be more than your "paper" qualifications! Keep trying, every person these days had to get rejected many times, no matter what industry you work in.
Last thing, maybe your resume and interview skills need some tweaking. Just a thought....

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Kt1278 in Mckinney, Texas

47 months ago

Sorry, I see you are in Pittsburgh. Don't know what the status of that state is, but you should probably teach and get to know people in the district that way. Then, you'll have great references when a job comes up. It's also easier to get a job counseling in an urban district. It's harder, but a good experience!

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Pbmannes in Westland, Michigan

47 months ago

AMEN!!! I just got an interview for a school counseling position at a middle school and it went REALLY well. I think I will get the job, but a) I taught for 5 years, and b) I have counseling experience with mental health, substance abuse, and students in transition, but even if I don't get this job I will KEEP trying and look for ways to improve my resume and applications and interviews because this is my purpose. I agree people, look inside yourself and examine your "excuses" and challenge them. If this is what you are meant to do, IT WILL HAPPEN! Just trust in the Universe, God, or whatever you believe in and don't let your excuses keep you from moving forward!!

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Harmony in Brooklyn, New York

47 months ago

I am sure your voice alone represents the 2 million unemployed people. It is wonderful that you found employment! I take it it was not in career counseling? Being judgmental and critical doesn't provide positive feedback. Providing further training in interviewing, resume building, including building up self-esteem. After time being unemployed brings on loss of purpose and depression. Even counselors are human. Provide guidance and encouragement don't demean the others that are struggling in so many ways.

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JC in Mableton, Georgia

47 months ago

Thank you!...I mean what ever happened to EMPATHY??? Remember that quality your professor talked about on the first day of grad school? If you watch the news you understand how the economy has made it difficult for many people to find employment in ANY field. There are people who've been unemployed for years, not because there's something wrong with them but because the longer you are out of work and the older you are the harder it is to get back into the workforce. This can have a very negative impact of self-esteem and create a sense of hopelessness...understandably so. If you've been paying attention to this forum as well as the ASCA Scene you can see that the School Counseling filed has historically been difficult do break into...has nothing to do with people not being qualified. I found myself in the same boat as many of you who cannot find jobs, so I understand. I recently asked myself what else is it I'm passionate about?.....Whether it will allow me to use this degree or not and I am focusing on job hunting with that in mind! Keep your heads up.

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Pbmannes in Loves Park, Illinois

47 months ago

This is a good lesson in resiliency. The school counseling profession is difficult to get into, and it typically takes a lot of legwork. This blog can be helpful and useful if you take the information and use it to your advantage. No one should be attacking anyone, but change requires complete acceptance of and acknowledgement that your current state or methods aren't working. Keep trying, yes it's difficult, but don't give up and go above and beyond to get the job you want, it will happen for those who don't give up! No judgement here AT ALL, just encouraging suggestions...

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JC in Mableton, Georgia

47 months ago

I agree with perhaps changing strategies. One of my classmates recommended giving the principal of school's I interview with a portfolio that includes samples of my work and guidance lessons I would use to address specific issues identified in the school's strategic plan.

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Harmony in Brooklyn, New York

47 months ago

Yes, I agree changing tactics is important. Similar to Solution Focus Therapy if one way doesn't work change tactics or perspective, if you receive possitive responses keep doing what your doing.

You say your not being judgmental but your not on the receiving end are you? Why do you feel you need to build our resiliency on a blog when we are living it on a day to day basis. Hitting the pavement and going to schools in person, distributing over 300 resumes/cover letters, receiving rejection emails, and being on public assistance you don't believe is building resiliency? How dare you to assume that we are not! The employed forget what it feels like to be poor and struggling once they are receiving that paycheck.

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CB3 in Middle Island, New York

47 months ago

I have been working as part time as a school counselor in an alternative high school for 5 years now. I know that this is what I was put on earth to do. I want nothing more than to have a full time position and to not have to be constantly on the lookout for new jobs. Searching and applying is a full time job in itself. My family has suffered from me having to balance 3 different jobs just to pay the bills. I empathize with all of you who have had the same difficulties. Try to stay strong and search within yourself to find your true calling. If its counseling stay with it. For those of you who have found jobs.. congratulations! But please don't attack others and assume to know what they have been through. As a couselor it really should be in you to be more empathatic. Nothing positive has come from negativity.

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mpasqua in Raleigh, North Carolina

47 months ago

I have in the same boat, having recently graduated with my master's in counseling (school counseling concentration)and have been exploring other avenues outside of public schools. I have applied to local public colleges and universities as well as private colleges and universities as academic counselor, advisor, coordinator, etc. Pretty much any position that wants a bachelors or master's in a counseling/social work/psychology related field. Getting ANY experience is better than nothing I think, and then I can go back to the public schools with that experience. I have also been looking into the same positions at local community colleges. Also, I have applied to "Teach for America" for next year, I know some of you are teachers and wanted to SWITCH from that position, but for those of you that aren't and don't want to go back to school for the teaching certification, I think that could be a great way to get your foot in the door in public schools in your area, get paid and get a supplement for already having your master's and then get your name out that you're looking for a school counseling position eventually. Gets you experience with kids and gets you in the school system. That's kind of my backup for now, I know I'll eventually get that school position, in this economy it will just take longer!

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Kt1278 in Arlington, Texas

47 months ago

I guess I'm a little confused. Here in Texas you HAVE to teach a minimum of three years to counsel in public schools. Is it different in other states? I can't imagine having a school counselor (with how our schools run) that had never taught...
Also, unfortunately school Counselors don't get to do a ton of counseling like we do in clinicals in a masters program or in private practice. I just don't want anyone to not be aware of what it entails. It's more of a "problem-solver" or "crisis/behavioral interventions" kind of job in urban districts. I have friends in suburban schools who do guidance and have a lot of time to do groups, etc but those are the harder districts to get into. I taught in an urban district for 10 years before becoming a counselor and the tougher the school, the more I love it, but it's harder than people (even teachers and principals) think!

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Dave in Oxford, Massachusetts

47 months ago

What type of job are you applying for in the teach for America program?

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Reality in Brooklyn, New York

47 months ago

@ E in Minneapolis, Minnesota, come to New York City you will have a different attitude.

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E

47 months ago

@ Reality: get out of New York. Then maybe you might have a different story.

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Tmichelle in Atlanta, Georgia

46 months ago

JEN3 in Smyrna, Georgia said: I can relate to all of you. I went a year after graduation without a single interview. This year I had 8, but not one offer. I had previous counseling experience and a M.A in Forensic Psych, but ask me how to register a student and I could tell you. In GA this is a major part of what high school counselors do. I took the NCE and became licensed as an Associate Licenced Professional Counselor (LAPC). Now I'm working as a school based Mental Health Therapist (a grant funded position). When this ends I think I'm going to pursue MH therapy as a career instead of School Counseling. A lot of School Counselors don't get to counsel students as much as they'd like anyway. If you can't get a School Counselor job I would suggest getting licensed so you can work in a different setting. You may be happier anyway. Maybe this particular door has been closed for many of us for a reason. Work in a community setting, detention centeer, become a registered play therapist! There are other options.

JEN3 - I'm in Atlanta and is looking to change careersa nd go back to school in 2013. Been researching different School Counseling Graduate programs in GA that are CACREPP accredited but after reading this blog I'm wondering if I need to change direction if the job outlook in GA for school counseling is not great. Most graduate programs in school counseling make it difficult to work FT and go to school especially GA State. I want to know if you had to do it over again would you change your major? The route you took is the one I'm preparing to take. Your thoughts please?

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Jen3 in Mableton, Georgia

46 months ago

Hey TMichelle,

I personally would have done something different. I went back full time and now i have loans. HOWEVER, a lot of my fellow classmates did find jobs. I think it helps if you have teaching experience. I'm working now as a School-based Mental Health Therapist. It's grant funded but the program will start billing once funding ends in hopes of sustaining it and there are plans to put more therapists in schools...The good thing about going back to school was that it allowed me to get my NCC and LAPC. So even though I haven't been able to find a school Counseling job yet, I was able to do something else. If I were you, I would first interview some school counselors to make sure you are clear as to what your job as a counselor will entail. Depending on the school you work in you may be doing far less counseling than you expect and more testing, scheduling, etc. If that doesn't deter you, I would take into consideration what everyone in the forum has been saying and know that it MAY be tough for you to find a job when you graduate. Are you are willing to move out of state? If you don't get a job, what will you do? These are just things to consider. Just do your research and keep in mind that this field has been affected by the recession like many others. There are lawyers who can't find jobs. My friend is one of them. FYI the cohort that graduated before I entered the program all had jobs before they graduated..then the recession hit and things changed. I'm sure eventually it will bounce back....

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Tmichelle in Atlanta, Georgia

46 months ago

Thanks Jen3 for your feedback. I have plans to speak with and hopefully get a chance to shadow a bit with two counselors when school starts in a couple of weeks. I've been talking to students currently in a M.Ed School counseling program as well. Most information has been encouraging. I'm trying to get as much information as possible however the desire to pursue this career path just wont go away. I guess I have to stay in a positive head space and network as much as possible. Yes I'm willing to relocate afterwards if it comes down to it because I MUST get a job especially if I have to quit my FT job to go back to school FT!

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AshleyM in Monroe, North Carolina

45 months ago

Hi all,

I have been scanning these posts and I think I found what I was looking for. I have been struggling for a while now about whether or not to pursue a master's degree in school counseling or to do a program in Medical Assisting. Both look rewarding to me. The only thing is I have a Bachelor's degree in Liberal Studies, which the counseling program obviously requires a Bachelor degree and the medical one doesn't. I guess it would feel like I didn't waste four years if I went for the counseling degree, right? On the other hand, medical assistants are in high demand it seems and after reading through these posts, school counselors are not. Either way, I feel like I have to get certified in SOMETHING because even with a BA, I can't get a job to save my life and I'm 28 and sick of working retail! Does anyone else feel like that? Afraid to make a mistake? Being a Guidance Counselor really interests me, so would it be crazy to do medical assisting now, and when the economy picks up go back for the counseling degree? UUUggghh my brain won't stop! What would you do?

Help.

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Harmony in Brooklyn, New York

45 months ago

Prior to doing my MS in Counseling I considered Medical Assisting. Everyone in my family kept hounding me to do the MS in Counseling that it would pay off yada yada. Well 2yrs later I'm still unemployed and owe student loans. In medical assisting it would have been an 18mth program with an attached co-op/internship that would have had me working in a nearby clinic. So regret this MS degree all its brought me is grief. If you want to help people do it in the medical field. Go into Medical Assisting get your phlebotomy certificate with it and work your way into nursing. Really you'll always have a job with flexibility to move up and into other areas of the medical field. Good Luck!

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

45 months ago

Harmony, while you're full of regret that you didn't take what you want, keep in mind, there are lots of people who took those degrees you seek - and they are unemployed.

You have lots of skills with the degree you got. You could work in grief counseling. You could counsel for Hospice patients. You could work in a hospital (look on your major hospital websites and see what is available). You could work in the juvenile justice department - or as a probation officer. You could work with drug offenders giving counseling. Look outside the little window.

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Harmony in Brooklyn, New York

45 months ago

I did look outside the little window and broke open a sliding glass door by sending over 600 resumes receiving only rejection emails. In NYS you must hold a License in Mental Health Counseling or be CASAC certified to hold positions in a Hospital or drug center. At this point investing anymore financially toward education is not an option for me or my family. I'm looking into Customer Service were employment holds more options with less restrictions on what license or certification you hold.

Best of luck to you.

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olewers in Akron, Ohio

45 months ago

Hey guys. So I have just graduated with a BA in Psych. I am thinking about starting a MA in School Counseling. I am currently serving as an AmeriCorps YouthBuild VISTA (Volunteer In Service To America) and am working at a at-risk youth school for the year.This school helps kids get their HS diploma/GED, and teaches them construction skills. After this year I was planning on subbing until I finished my degree so I could build connections. I am still a little nervous because of the bad luck it seems a lot of you have had. Hoping for some advice, and wondering if any of you have tried working at a college as an academic advisor or something similar.
Thanks!

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Paul House in Minneapolis, Minnesota

45 months ago

It sounds like you are doing the right thing; to network with people. Your volunteer work will help a great deal, and subbing for teaching experience also.

I work for a healthcare system that pays 75% of my tuition (up to $2000 a year). I am working on my MA in counseling, getting my LPCC and then plan on working at a university/college as a therapist, before going back to school for a post grad in school counseling. It is a really long route and who knows if I will go back for the post grad, but I need to use the tuition money that is available from my current company, and network but here and in colleges.

Network, network, network! Just yesterday I got the name of my current manager’s wife who is a social worker in a local school district. I might not need that contact for 7 years, but I have it. It wasn’t the greatest idea I have ever had but you have to do what you have to do.

Before pursuing my masters I was an actor and I feel like school counseling is very similar, you have to talk to anyone who will listen to your plan and get your name out there.

I was also at a family reunion for my wife’s side on Sunday and counseling came up in conversation, I joined the conversation and before I knew I had the name and contact information for the director of the PhD program at my school. You have to put yourself out there like any actor, musician, or model. It is unfortunate that the school counseling industry has come to this but it is the reality we all face.

Good luck, I hope this helps, I think you are doing the right thing.

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olewers in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

45 months ago

Thanks for the info! I have the option at my university of completing the MA in School Counseling and MA in Mental Health Counseling with adding only 1 extra year. I have considering doing this to add as much to my resume as possible, but have stayed away from it so far based on how much less it seems Mental Health Counselors make. However, it does seem that Mental Health offers more job opportunities.

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Paul House

45 months ago

I agree, I am in the same position. I thought about doing both my LPC and LSC at the same time, I'm still looking into this option. I know the pay for LPC/LPCC is not great but you should get both if you can. I would love to be a school counselor but the market seems to suck right now.

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mpasqua in Raleigh, North Carolina

45 months ago

Kt1278 in Arlington, Texas said: I guess I'm a little confused. Here in Texas you HAVE to teach a minimum of three years to counsel in public schools. Is it different in other states? I can't imagine having a school counselor (with how our schools run) that had never taught...
Also, unfortunately school Counselors don't get to do a ton of counseling like we do in clinicals in a masters program or in private practice. I just don't want anyone to not be aware of what it entails. It's more of a "problem-solver" or "crisis/behavioral interventions" kind of job in urban districts. I have friends in suburban schools who do guidance and have a lot of time to do groups, etc but those are the harder districts to get into. I taught in an urban district for 10 years before becoming a counselor and the tougher the school, the more I love it, but it's harder than people (even teachers and principals) think!

no in most other states you do NOT have to have prior teaching experience, in texas and alabama I know you do (3 yrs), but in Louisiana and NC where I know live you do not. I did sub for a year, but have never taught. Obviously, going through a three year sixty hour CACREP accredited program should have hopefully prepared me to be a school counselor, as well as doing a year internship in a school, but I think if I had been a teacher first the connections would already be there to get me in a school counseling job. Oh well! I went straight from undergrad to grad school and didn't work full time so I could get out sooner, might have done it differently if I could but at least its over with!

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mpasqua in Raleigh, North Carolina

45 months ago

mpasqua in Raleigh, North Carolina said: no in most other states you do NOT have to have prior teaching experience, in texas and alabama I know you do (3 yrs), but in Louisiana and NC where I know live you do not. I did sub for a year, but have never taught. Obviously, going through a three year sixty hour CACREP accredited program should have hopefully prepared me to be a school counselor, as well as doing a year internship in a school, but I think if I had been a teacher first the connections would already be there to get me in a school counseling job. Oh well! I went straight from undergrad to grad school and didn't work full time so I could get out sooner, might have done it differently if I could but at least its over with!

now* live

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kelly72 in Plainfield, Illinois

43 months ago

I graduated in 2006 with a Master's in School Counseling and have been looking for that nonexistent job ever since. I've been a classroom aide (loved the job, but no money), sub and I'm now a job coach. I think Illinois has to be the WORST place to get a job in education right now.

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Disillusioned in San Francisco, California

43 months ago

Here's a question for everyone who reads this message board. If you could do it all over again would you still pursue a master's degree that lead to becoming a school counselor? Do you think that your investment, of time and money, was worth it? If so why, and if not what would you have done differently?

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Don'tbelieveit in Phoenix, Arizona

43 months ago

I think someone who has worked out in private industry would make a good school counselor. I can't why the Masters degree is mandatory. More time in Academia isn't going to give someone a real handle on various industries and what they really are about.

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outofworkcounselor in Palmdale, California

43 months ago

Disillusioned in San Francisco, California said: Here's a question for everyone who reads this message board. If you could do it all over again would you still pursue a master's degree that lead to becoming a school counselor? Do you think that your investment, of time and money, was worth it? If so why, and if not what would you have done differently?

I believe it was worth it right now, I received mine in 2008. Was working for 6 years and was laid off. I loved every minute of it ! now working at a trade school as an adviser and working there is like working at a car lot! My dream is to one day get back in the public schools where I am needed.

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Worried in Long Beach, California

43 months ago

Hi School Counselors,
It's nice to know I am not the only one in this situation. For those California School Counselors out there. Pray that Prop. 30 passes in November because if it doesn't, the California school districts are going to get hit even worse with budget cuts. Long Beach School District will have to cut $35 million more from this years budget. You know it is bad when they are considering cutting high school sports. Have you heard how much your school districts will have to cut if Prop. 30 doesn't pass?

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Joe Gagill in Monticello, New York

43 months ago

Don'tbelieveit in Phoenix, Arizona said: I think someone who has worked out in private industry would make a good school counselor. I can't why the Masters degree is mandatory. More time in Academia isn't going to give someone a real handle on various industries and what they really are about.

I know we are going to get negative comments. Maybe even death threats. LOL!

I couldn't agree with you more. I had this discussion with someone on another thread but it was in regards to college and admission reps.

I do apologize if I offended anyone.

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Sarah in Brooklyn, New York

43 months ago

Hello to every one :)

I am in a VERY huge Dilemma in my life right now!!!I just got my English Lit Degree and I was planning on majoring in sociology in the spring and then master in School counseling. BUT after reading most of the posts on here i really feel that i should not counsel. This was a hard thing to swallow. I always felt that you should always get a career in a field you love not get it for a finical reasons. I still feel really strongly about that but im thinking realistically here. I don't want to spend four more years busting my butt studying and paying more money on a job i will most likely NOT get or get a less paying job even though i am way more educated and qualified for it. I don't know what to do??? :(... Im really interested in Dermatology but i don't want to go t Medical school ! I am horrible at math and biology. If i dont go on the dermatology path i still wanted to work in the school system. Not as a teacher though. I just want some good advice guys... I dont know what to do. Should i master in mental health after sociology so i can have more job opportunities or master in social work... even tho the pay is horrible. If anyone knows another career option in these types of fields with a reasonable pay??

Please reply to my post or email me at rokkysomo@aim.com. I am need in NEED of serious advice. I am 22 going to 23. Spring semester is around the corner and i need to make a smart choice that i will NOT regret asap and STOP WASTING TIME !!.... Thanks in advance everyone. Hope you all the very BEST !

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Bob M. in Sea Cliff, New York

42 months ago

First thing is to rely on information from the links below. If counseling is your thing, subscribe to a journal / magazine. YES jobs are tight! However school systems are looking for new blood because you come at a cheaper price tag. Some how you have to find out if you want the job bad enough to do anything they want of you.

YES, YOU SHOULD BE REALISTIC. How what is your return on investment, $ years, @ $20k to $40k per year that is $80 to $160 K spent for a $45,000 per career. You will be paying your Tuition bill for quite a long time.

Think out of the box, Go get a College job working in the Advisory dept. Counseling College students, see if the College atmosphere is suitable. It is a great environment to work in. You could explore a career in human resources for a university or corporation.

Mental Health Counseling was an area developed OH, about 5 to 6 years ago, a great possibility however you have to do an extraordinary numbers of supervised internship over 1200 hours. Another thing the politics will prevent the Licensed Mental Health Counselor from getting Third Party Payments like Social Workers. That takes Legislation to pass. Its doable, but time consuming however you have to get into the work force and make money not accrue debt with another degree
So after all is said and done (whatever that may mean to you) what do you do? No disrespect intended to you, but it is too COSTLY to become a professional student. Find a way to make some serious BUCKS utilizing your College Education. After all College taught you how to solve problems and think creatively. College did not teach you how to find a job. You have to "MAJOR in JOB SEARCH" and find your own job. Maybe when you land that "Counseling Job”, you can teach high school Junior and Seniors how to Career search. What better way to COUNSEL...

Good luck with your Search, Decision or Path.

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Paul House

42 months ago

Great post!

That is now my plan. I wanted to go into school counseling for a long time but the market sucks and the company I work for will pay for some classes towards an MA/LPC, so I am getting my MA and LPC license. I will then try to find work at a university or college, and eventually (perhaps) go back to school for a post grad LSC license.

Good luck everyone.

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Jack in Grand Rapids, Michigan

42 months ago

I truly feel for everyone who is still struggling to find a job in school counseling in this thread! My advice would be to work hard at networking and use that natural ability to relate to people (that drew you to counseling) to your advantage. Schools are highly political...but recognize that it is human nature to trust the abilities of people who you know and try not to get discouraged by this atmosphere. Work hard on establishing relationships with staff, students, and parents during your internship and I think you will find more leads come your way. It sounds like certain states are really hurting and I recognize that many of these obstacles mentioned are beyond your control. However, I feel there is hope in our field. I myself graduated in 2010 and was hired as a part-time at risk counselor at a large urban high school here in Michigan. I worked as an activity leader for this district's summer school program and even joined their basketball league. After becoming friends with staff members, I found they constantly helped me with leads for full-time gigs. I was able to land a full-time school counselor job last year at a nearby high school and I enjoy it thoroughly. As it turns out, the administrator who hired me recognized one of my letters of recommendation as written by her son's high school counselor (a person she trusted and respected). Although I enjoy going to work everyday, I am often burdened by administrative tasks that take away from my time spent doing real counseling. However, I am still able to make a positive influence in student's lives (and have lengthy holiday breaks/time for a summer job). I recognize the fact that my job may not be completely secure so I am constantly aware of the impression I make on the various fellow staff members, community agencies, and universities I have come in contact with over the past two years. I feel I was very lucky to land a job but thought it was important to shed a little positive light on this subject!

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Jack in Grand Rapids, Michigan

42 months ago

Also, I have NO prior experience teaching...just a bachelor's degree in history and a masters in school psychology (which is worthless for practical purposes but sounds cool to say). I have significant student loans but am enrolled in the Public Loan Forgiveness Program sponsored by the US Department of Ed. I am on an income-based repayment plan and will have the rest of my loans forgiven in 9 years if I stay employed in public service.

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HigherEd in Albany, New York

42 months ago

Congratulations to Jack in Grand Rapids, he persevered and was ultimately able to find a job, now fingers crossed he doesn't fall victim to budget cuts and last in/first out policies that caused countless layoffs across the country.

One thing that doesn't often get discussed is gender preference or discrimination in school counseling hires. I have heard from a few school officials involved with hiring committees (very much off the record) that they have witnessed gender preference when hiring a new school counselor. For instance, if a male counselor retires and all of the other counselors are female, there is often a preference to try and "replace" the male counselor. So if a male and female candidate go into a final interview situation, and all things are equal, or mostly equal, the male candidate will almost always get the job. Has anyone experienced anything like that?

I've also heard that with the field being dominated by women, at least in NY State, that principals are even giving lesser qualified men (fewer years experience, etc.) jobs over women, possibly because of a concern that a woman in her late 20s early 30s will be more likely to take maternity leave within the first few years of work causing additional work/disruption for the department. This would be nearly impossible to prove, but I suspect it's happening rather more frequently than we imagine.

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Hopeless in Ferndale, Washington

42 months ago

Wow...I can't believe there are so many people in the same position that I have been in for the last 9 years. I graduated with my Masters in School Counseling in 2004. I got a job at an alternative school right out of grad school but it was only 6 hours per week. I continued searching and interviewing for a few years. I was then offered a full-time leave replacement at the comprehensive high school in the same district. I worked incredibly hard and loved it. Unfortunely even though there was a retirement, I was bumped by an elementary counselor in the district after the district eliminated elementary counseling. I went back to 6 hours per week and the district actually hired me to train the elementary counselor in the work I had done the year before. I then found a leave replacement job in another nearby school district. I worked in that position - loved it, and then a counselor from another school in the same district decided to transfer, so I ended up interviewing at a different school and the administrator already had another candidate chosen. Now I do drug and alcohol counseling - not certificated work and not my passion. I have interviewed so many school counseling jobs. I feel like it was a terrible mistake to pursue school counseling. Even if there is a vacancy (which is incredibly rare), there are so many other counselors out of work and politics play a large role as well. Now I'm wondering if I should go back to school, but I feel so dejected and exhausted from trying to make a go at school counseling that I don't know if I have the courage to try something else.

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Paul House

42 months ago

What do people think about going the MA in counseling route, to work in a univeristy career center and to then get an EdD to work your way into leadership and administration? This is a path I am thinking about.

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HigherEd in Albany, New York

41 months ago

Paul House said: What do people think about going the MA in counseling route, to work in a univeristy career center and to then get an EdD to work your way into leadership and administration ? This is a path I am thinking about.

Unless you're getting the MA and EdD for free, they're not worth the cost. I've worked in higher ed for over a decade and I predict a high probability that the Higher Ed bubble is about to burst and you're going to see a painful contraction of University administration. The writing is on the wall. Many colleges are quietly consolidating administrative functions right now. They're looking for ways to reduce costs, they have hiring freezes, and in some cases outright layoffs. This is the calm before the storm; it’s going to get much worse in the years ahead.
Private colleges are in greater danger as they will face increasingly intense competition for the few kids who can pay full, or close to full tuition, and that pool had gotten dramatically smaller during the recession and continues to shrink. Even the pool of families who are willing to take out huge loans is getting smaller. So colleges are scrutinizing their tuition discounting ratios. With the exception of the top 50 wealthiest colleges, the rest are all tuition dependent. For proof, just look at how many very well endowed colleges have recently abandoned their need blind admissions policies. Wesleyan, Tufts, Grinnell, to name a few, all have $1 billion plus endowments and still moved away from need-blind admissions. In my opinion, that is a symptom of a larger problem with the entire pricing/budgeting model. And when I talk to friends who work in 2nd and 3rd tier colleges, they tell of applications being way down and need being way up.

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HigherEd in Albany, New York

41 months ago

Personnel make up the biggest part of most college budgets, so when revenue is flat or declining, where do you cut first? You got it, staff. And most colleges have already cut as many tenure track faculty positions as they can get away with and still call themselves a college. Amazingly, it’s usually staff at the bottom that gets cut first: administrative assistants, library clerks, faculty assistants etc. But once you’ve cut all of them what’s left, the assistant VPs, directors and their minions. The point is that colleges have bloated administrations and as budgets get tighter and tighter you’re going to see more cuts. Public universities are in just as difficult a position, hiring freezes, budget cuts, etc. The only advantage is that they have the state to fall back on. It’s not a pretty scene in the world of higher ed, it’s just that the national media isn’t paying attention yet. Wait until a few colleges actually close their doors and then you’ll see some attention.

I'm not saying that you should not pursue a career in higher ed, it is a wonderful work environment that is hard to beat. The takeaway is that you should be aware of the market conditions and whatever you do, don't go into debt in order to get a job in higher ed, because it is a bad investment. While the quality of life is good, the pay often isn't great, so you'll be carrying a large debt load with decreased earning potential.

Don't take my word for it, seek out some university administrators (not in admissions for your potential grad program) and ask them what they think.

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Lauren in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

41 months ago

I am so glad that I found this website, I am a victim of going to college for the "wrong major" ( because of the job market) instead of following up heart and pursuing a career in guidance counseling. I must say that although it is reality, I think that it is a shame that the job market scares people from pursuing their true interests. Long story short, I graduated with my undergrad in 2011 and have been working in "the real world" every since. Although there are jobs in Pittsburgh in Human Resources, I realize that I do not want to make a career out of it because it is just not what I thought or am interested in. Now 23, I realize if I want to make a career change and go back to grad school it's now or never.

I reached out to my guidance counselor from high school who basically said yes it is hard to break into, but it is always going to be and if that is truly what you want to get into don't give up. I'm just so scared after reading this site that the only thing I will obtain upon receiving my Masters is a school debt and work a part-time job to make ends meet.

I guess my question to all you who have obtained your Masters in School Counesling is: what are some jobs that you have worked in that help you gain experience in counseling while looking for that school guidance cousenlor position?

Any advice would be apprecaited :)

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Paul House

41 months ago

Thank you for the info, it it great to hear from someone who works in Higher Ed. My employer pays a part of my tution for my MA, it's not free but it will be half the price that my classmates are paying. It's too bad that gone are the days when educations actually pays off.

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snormag in Gaithersburg, Maryland

39 months ago

Ok, I am doing a career change and going back to school to get my second master's degree in school counseling. I already have a bachelors degree in business administration and a masters degree in business as well(MBA. but have been looking for work way over 2 years with no luck, everywhere wants experience, because i have been applying to HR jobs since thats my minor in both degrees. So I am about to start school for my masters in school counseling but am worried I am going to be on same boat I am now with no luck landing a career job. My academic advisor said the job market is tough for school counselors but that I have the benefits of being bilingual(english/spanish)speaking both fluently. Do you think this would increase my chances of landing a job? Also would the 2nd masters be impressive as well? I currently work as a case manager but did not require any degree for it. Please let me know your input before I dedicate my time and money in another degree.

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