How Can You Specialize a School Counseling Degree?

A school counseling degree prepares a student for working with kids in a school setting right after graduating. Many states require that counselors get a professional license or that they obtain certification before they go to work. Though some students think that all counselors do the same thing, their daily tasks depend on where they work and the students in that school. Prior to enrolling in one of these degree programs, prospective students should look at how they can specialize their degrees based on who they want to work with and where they want to work.

Special Education

Students can specialize their degrees to work with special education students. Special education students include those with disorders and handicaps that prevent them from keeping up with their peers. These counselors may work in schools that have classes devoted to those students or in schools designed for those with special needs. They’ll need to know how to help students cope with bullying and harassment from other students and how to identify any signs of abuse. These students may suffer abuse at home because their families do not know how to handle them.

Deviant Behaviors

School counselors often work with students who act out in abnormal and unique ways. Deviant behaviors include any behaviors and actions that deviate from the norm. This can include a younger child sexually harassing a classmate or an older student who threatens violence against other students. These counselors must know how to identify the root cause of the problem and how to talk with these students. They must also know how to keep themselves safe and when to contact the authorities. There may come a time when a student acts out in a way that can indicate the student might hurt others.

Age Range

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for school counselors today is more than $54,000 a year. The amount that counselors may can vary based on whether they work in a private or public school and the age range of their students. School counselors can customize their degrees and choose to work with students of a specific age range. They might work in an elementary school with kids between the ages of five and 12, in a middle or junior high school with older kids or in a high school with kids just starting high school and those getting ready for college.

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Some school counseling degree programs help students meet the requirements for becoming a teacher at the same time that they study counseling subjects. These programs are a good option for those who live in an area with less of a need for school counselors and those who live in areas where school counselors must step in and perform other duties on a daily basis. They might fill in as a substitute teacher when a full-time teacher needs to leave suddenly or take over classes when a teacher is on break. Some schools ask counselors to teach one or more classes every day too.

Colleges and universities offer school counseling programs on their campuses and online for students who already work in the education field. Students enrolling in a school counseling degree program can choose to specialize their degrees to work as a teacher and a counselor or to work with specific types of students and those of a certain age.