Online Master’s in School Counseling: The Basics

If you enjoy helping and supporting people, working as a school counselor may be the perfect job for you. There are many qualifications, certifications and licenses that you will need to acquire before you can begin your career, and an online masters in school counseling is a great step in your journey. You may also already be taking a bachelor’s degree and thinking about next steps, or you may be planning your educational route to becoming a school counselor. Wherever you are on your career path, an online masters in school counseling can offer you a rigorous training option that is flexible and cost-effective.

What is a school counselor?

Within the field of counseling, there are various types of counselors who work in different settings and with different types of people. School counselors work in a variety of educational facilities, and support students in various areas including their academic goals and personal issues. An online masters in school counseling will help prepare you to take the licensing exam, which you are required to pass before you can practice as a school counselor. The exams varying depending on your state, so it is important to make sure you take this into consideration when thinking about where you will be practicing.

There are generally three main types of counseling that are offered in schools:

Directive counseling – this is also known as prescriptive or counselor-centered counseling. It involves the counselor playing a more active role than the client, due to the former being more competent. All efforts are focused on the client’s problem.

Non-directive counseling – this is a type of counseling in which the counseling does not offer direction, and is more client centered. The scope and the content of the conversion is led by the client.

Eclectic counseling – this is a combination of both directive and non-directive counseling, in which the counselor is not as active as they would be in the former, and not as passive as they would be in the latter. It is a multifaceted and flexible approach.

An online masters in school counseling can help you develop your understanding of these types of counseling and their various methods. There are modules in abnormal psychology, group counseling and multicultural counseling, as well as internships and residencies. The online masters in school counseling combines in-field practical work with online coursework, allowing you to put your new skills and knowledge into practice in the workplace, make connections in the industry and study flexibly from home.

You could become an elementary school counselor, helping students in this incredibly important developmental phase of their lives. This can also be the time when learning disabilities or disordered thoughts become clearer, as well as any personal or familial problems. At elementary school, students learn to communicate and interact with others. Elementary school counselors can help children with this and more and can also make referrals to other professionals for further treatment or support.

High school counselors also play an integral role, as this is a time where there are many academic and personal stresses on students. You can help students develop their plans for their next educational or career steps, as well as offering support with any personal problems. At high school, students are still discovering and establishing their identities, and school counselors can help them prepare to become productive and fulfilled individuals once they have left high school.

Is it the right role for you?

It takes a certain type of person to become a good counselor, and you will need to use a combination of your academic knowledge and personal skills and traits. Counselors are very good listeners who are able to put themselves in the place of their clients, in order to understand their feelings. You will also need to be incredibly organized, able to assess, coordinate and evaluate, and be friendly and approachable. School counselors also often give lessons on subjects such as bullying, so it can help to have some experience of teaching or public speaking. As well as the technical skills that an online masters in school counseling will teach you, there are plenty of personal characteristics that make a great school counselor.

  • Communication – this is an incredibly important part of counseling. You will be working with and talking to a huge range of people, with different issues and needs. You need to be able to adapt your communication style and techniques according to the individual. It is also vital to understand non-verbal forms of communication such as body language, as this can tell you a lot about a person and how they are feeling.
  • Teamwork – you will be working with many different people, from school faculty members to medical professionals and social workers, so you need to be able to collaborate in order to find the best solutions for your students. Communication also comes into play here, as you will also need to adapt the way you talk with and deliver information to others, as they may not have the same level of counseling knowledge as you do.
  • Empathy – this is the ability to put yourself in the shoes of your students to try and understand what they are feeling. You will have plenty of experience, but it is unlikely that you will have first-hand experience of every situation that a student brings to you. Empathy can help you see the world from the perspective of your students.
  • Organization – any kind of counselor needs to be incredibly organized. As a school counselor you will have multiple clients and you will need to ensure you treat each one with the same level of attention and professionalism. You may also find yourself teaching classes on subjects such as bullying and drug abuse, so you might have to plan these lessons around your counseling schedule.

A school counselor’s jobs and tasks can vary greatly depending on the needs of the students they support. You will evaluate the skills, goals, interests, weaknesses and strengths of a student, and help them to choose the classes that would work best for them. You may also be responsible for organizing their class schedule. As well as academic support, you will also help them with the various emotional, social, behavioral and mental issues that they may face. This can range from identifying and reporting abuse or neglect, to dealing with bullying, drugs or alcohol. You will also be able to refer students and parents to other professionals for further assistance and support.

How do you become one?

The standard route to becoming a school counselor involves a bachelor’s degree in counseling or related subject such as psychology or education. It is very common for teachers to become school counselors, as they already have many of the skills that are required, such as the ability to teach and the passion to support young people. In some areas, a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement, but in others you will need a master’s degree. This is where an online masters in school counseling can help move your career forward. Once you have the correct qualifications, you will also need to pass the licensing exam before you can start your job.

An online masters in school counseling offers opportunities for internships and residencies, which are great ways to put your knowledge and skills in practice and gain practical work experience. They are also brilliant ways to network and get contacts in the industry, and many people may end up working for the company or people that they interned for. There are increasing numbers of students enrolling in schooling, which means the demand for school counselors is also growing.

Furthermore, there are plenty of benefits to studying at master’s level. You will gain access to knowledge, resources and experiences that may not be available to you any other way. A degree at master’s level will help you stand out in a pool of job applicants can help you achieve higher-level jobs and increased pay. You can also choose to continue your study to PhD level once you have completed your master’s degree.

Why study online?

An online masters in school counseling will not only provide you with in-depth skills and knowledge relating to the counseling profession, it can also help develop your personal skills. Soft skills are a set of transferable, non-technical personal skills that can help you stand out and succeed in the workplace. They include skills such as communication, teamwork, creativity, problem solving and self-motivation. While these are useful skills for any industry, some are particularly useful for counselors.

When you learn online, you will have the chance to develop many of these skills as you overcome the unique challenges that online study brings. You will need to be incredibly organized, especially if you are studying alongside your job or family commitments. Being able to motivate yourself to complete your studies to a high level can give you plenty of great studying and working habits to use in the future, such as scheduling, setting goals and removing distractions. During your study, you will be working on these skills all the time, and you may find you already have many of them, but they can also be adapted and improved upon. In an interview setting, you can give practical examples of when you have used these soft skills, to impress potential employers. Your organization and time management skills will be particularly important when learning at home, as you need to make sure you are learning efficiently and managing your distractions, without being in a physical classroom or with a tutor there to monitor you.

Your actual location also matters a lot less when you are studying an online course. If your local educational institution does not offer the course or level of qualification you need, this can put a serious dampener on your career plans. It can cause you to have to study something else, or nothing at all. When learning remotely, you can access education from many different institutions, from your home. An online masters in school counseling makes this level of education much more accessible to a wider range of people.

An online masters in school counseling can also be a more cost-effective option when it comes to master’s education. One of the main reasons that people don’t pursue further education is that it can be incredibly expensive, and therefore, financially unviable. Online courses are often cheaper than their in-person counterparts. You can also save money when studying at home as you don’t have to worry as much about finding accommodation on, or close to, a campus, nor do you have to commute daily. There is also the ability to have more control over your learning style and environment, which can make the experience more enjoyable and enriching for you. Learning from home is a great opportunity to work out what kind of learner you are, as well as develop habits that can help you take in new information whenever you have to learn something new in the future.

Becoming a school counselor is a demanding and rigorous process that requires great levels of technical and personal skills and knowledge. It is also incredibly rewarding and important, as school is a very turbulent time for a lot of students, and school counselors provide valuable support and care for many. This is a varied role that will use all of your technical knowledge and personal skills in order to help you provide the best level of support possible. An online masters in school counseling is a great way to continue your counseling career journey or switch into a career in school counseling. It is cost-effective and flexible and allows you to study at your own pace alongside your pre-existing commitments such as a job or family.

Now you’re furnished with the top issues you need to consider when assessing which path to becoming a school counselor to take.

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