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What is School Counseling?
Choosing to major in school counseling can lead to a wide variety of employment opportunities in Delaware. This and other related subjects often prepare students for engaging and impactful careers. While the knowledge and skills gained from these programs can be useful in many different professions, they are most appropriate for individuals interested in helping to ensure success, access, and equality for school students of all ages.
School counselors work alongside educators to help students of varying ages develop academic and social skills. They are also often responsible for providing assistance when establishing plans for after graduation. Duties can vary, but most of these professionals work in academic settings. The most successful individuals in the field possess great analytical, interpersonal, listening, and speaking skills.
In most cases, school counselors spend time assessing student abilities and interests, providing advice, and teaching specific topics. They may also assist with understanding and overcoming various social and/or behavioral challenges. This can sometimes entail working with students to develop certain skills meant to support learning, such as effective time management and study habits. Collaboration with teachers and family members to establish and maintain academic, career, and social goals is frequently necessary as well. Additionally, these professionals often provide advice and guidance, meeting with individuals and/or small groups when needed. Another common expectation is that school counselors will maintain accurate records and track progress. They are required to report cases of possible neglect and/or abuse to authorities.
Those interested in the field should realize that school counselor responsibilities often vary depending on the age of students they work with. Delaware licenses and certifies both elementary and secondary school counselors. Professionals who primarily interact with younger children are more likely to visit classrooms and provide assistance in developing various social and academic skills. Those employed by high schools, however, typically advise students one-on-one and spend more time helping to establish plans for after graduation. In base cases, they are likely to help students overcome personal issues +interfering with academic development.
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Online School Counseling Education in Delaware
While many colleges and universities offer degrees in school counseling, it’s important to realize that clinical mental health counseling or general counseling programs are often much more prevalent. School counseling programs are particularly difficult to find at the undergraduate levels. As a result, it may be necessary to major in other related subjects prior to enrolling in graduate school.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of school and career counselors and advisors is expected to increase by 10% from 2021 to 2031. This is faster than the average for all occupations and will result in an additional 32,000 new job openings throughout the nation.
The educational services, healthcare, and social assistance industry is the fourth largest in Delaware. It accounts for $6 billion in revenue each year. As of May 2021, the state employed 1,210 educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors with an annual mean wage of $67,910. This is above the annual mean wage of $59,820 for all occupations in Delaware.
School counseling graduates are also likely to qualify for many other related community and social service occupations such as school social worker, family therapist, and rehabilitation counselor. As of May 2021, Delaware employed 7,336 individuals in these positions. However, that the annual mean wage of $50,510 for these jobs was below the state’s annual mean wage for all occupations.
While virtual learning is becoming more and more popular among students, the counseling field is not as well-suited to online instruction. This is because in-person instruction and practicums are often required for best results. Some hybrid degree programs do exist, which consist mostly of remote classes but require periodic on-campus learning sessions.
Even prospective students interested in distance learning options should still give preference to colleges and universities located in Delaware if they plan to seek employment in the area after graduation. Local academic institutions will have a better understanding of licensure and certification requirements, which can vary significantly by state. Schools often adjust curriculums to ensure graduates are properly prepared to meet career standards and employer expectations in the region. Additionally, many colleges and universities gain reputations with local primary, middle, and high schools. Attending a well-known and reputable institution can have a positive impact on the hiring process after graduation.
Those seeking counseling, community, and social service occupations in Delaware typically require some amount of higher education. Few employment opportunities are available to individuals without degrees in this field.
While academic program availability varies, prospective students can generally enroll in relevant associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. Notably, academic standards can vary drastically depending on the profession sought. The minimum education necessary to become a licensed and certified school counselor in Delaware is a master’s degree. There are, however, some other opportunities available to graduates with associate and bachelor’s degrees. But the best-paying positions are typically reserved for individuals with more education, training, and experience.
Online Associate Degree in School Counseling (AS)
Few colleges and universities offer associate degrees in counseling. As a result, students interested in this profession will need to choose from related educational programs that are more readily available. Relevant examples include counseling, education, human services, behavioral science, social science, or psychology. These degrees generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two years to complete. Curriculums typically consist of both general liberal arts and major-specific classes. Those enrolled can expect to gain a basic introduction to higher education and their field of choice.
This type of degree is ideal for those who want to obtain the minimum knowledge and skills needed to pursue entry-level employment in community and social service occupations. Notably, it does not satisfy licensure and certification requirements for school counselors in Delaware. Associate degree graduates will also have a harder time competing for jobs against graduates with more education.
Many graduates choose to enroll in bachelor’s programs rather than beginning to search for employment right away. This is often optimal, as many colleges and universities will accept previously acquired undergraduate credits in transfer. In many cases, those with associate degrees only require two additional years of study in order to obtain more advanced degrees.
Online Bachelor’s Degree in School Counseling (BS)
As with associate degrees, there are relatively few school counseling bachelor’s degree programs available. Most students select from a list of related majors such as clinical mental health counseling, human services, behavioral science, social science, or psychology. A bachelors in counseling is usually the core degree before moving into a school counseling masters program. These programs often consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately four years to complete. Curriculums vary, but students can still expect to take both general liberal arts and major-specific classes. In general, instruction tends to be more expansive than at the associate level, covering many key topics in behavioral health, as well as various counseling theories and concepts.
This type of degree is necessary for individuals who plan to pursue employment as school counselors in Delaware. It does not, however, satisfy the minimum education requirement for licensure and certification in the state as a licensed professional counselor in mental health counseling or elementary or secondary school counseling. These professions require master’s degrees. Those who choose to pursue further education should be prepared to meet various graduate school admittance standards. While these vary, most colleges and universities expect applicants to have minimum grade point averages (GPAs) and Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores.
Alternatively, bachelor’s degree graduates may qualify for some entry-level community and social service occupations.
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Online Master’s Degree in School Counseling (MS or MC)
Master’s degrees in school counseling generally range from 30 to 60 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two to three years to complete. Some colleges and universities also offer accelerated programs that may be completed in less time. Every curriculum is different, but instruction typically covers prominent school counseling techniques, multicultural counseling, clinical mental health counseling, lifespan development, academic and career counseling, and professional issues and ethics. Those enrolled can also expect to complete supervised clinical hours in real school settings prior to graduation. This degree is required for those looking to get started in elementary and secondary school counseling as a licensed professional counselor.
This type of degree meets the minimum requirement for elementary and secondary counseling licensure and certification in Delaware. As a result, those who have completed graduate school are likely to have greater success when applying for jobs in the state and may earn higher salaries than those with less education. In many cases, graduates will also qualify for jobs as career counselors, community service managers, social workers, substance abuse counselors, mental health counselors, and juvenile justice counselors.
Online PhD Degree in School Counseling (PhD)
A PhD or doctorate in school counseling can consist of between 60 and 120 credit hours that may take full-time students two to four years to complete. Programming from various intuitions will differ, but most are designed to help current professionals further develop the knowledge and skills needed to help young people be more successful in school. Some colleges and universities do offer specialized coursework, allowing students to develop and hone skills in grief therapy and/or curriculum coaching. It’s also common for curriculums to incorporate an emphasis on management at this level. Those enrolled can typically expect to perform a significant amount of research and writing, especially when preparing for graduation. Most programs culminate after a successful dissertation presentation before a board of professors.
This type of degree is rarely required for counselors in elementary and secondary schools in Delaware, as it exceeds the minimum education requirements for licensure and certification. Doctorate degrees are generally best-suited for individuals interested in expanding their clinical skills, which can lead to other career options. While some opportunities are available in research, most graduates pursue teaching positions in higher education.
Become a School Counselor in Delaware
Becoming a school counselor in Delaware generally begins with identifying your ultimate career goals. There are actually a wide variety of related employment opportunities within the field, some of which have distinctly different qualifications. Determining your preferred occupation allows you to research the associated standards and expectations early, which can ensure you pursue the most appropriate academic and professional experiences possible. Knowing your preferred career path can also be useful when selecting elective courses, minor areas of study, concentrations, and/or internship opportunities.
If you are intent on becoming a school counselor specifically, you will need to become familiar with the professional certification and licensure processes overseen by the Delaware Department of Education. Certification is required for all specialists working in state’s public school system.
This applies to the following professions:
- Elementary School Counselor
- Secondary School Counselor
- School Library Media Specialist
- School Reading Specialist
- School Psychologist
- School Social Worker
These occupations require both licensure and certification in Delaware. The license provides authorization to work in public and charter schools, while certificates identify areas of specialization.
Depending on experience level, you may qualify to apply for an initial license, continuing license, or advanced license. The Delaware Department of Education only grants licensure to candidates who meet current state reciprocity provisions.
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Delaware will not issue a license unless you also meet requirements for at least one standard certification. As a result, it’s necessary to apply for both credentials simultaneously through the Delaware Educator Data System (DEEDS). Certification types include standard certificate, emergency certificate, and certificate of eligibility. You can hold multiple certificates to certify your education in specific areas of expertise. In most cases, however, the Standard Certificate is preferred as this credential shows that you have the prescribed knowledge, skills, and/or education to practice. Notably, the Professional Standards Board oversees the regulations governing certification.
To qualify for elementary or secondary school counselor licensure and certification, you must supply official transcripts for appropriate bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The master’s degree must be in Elementary School Counseling or Secondary School Counseling and conferred by a National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) or Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) educator preparation unit or state-approved educator preparation program offered by a regionally accredited college or university.
Other master’s degrees from regionally accredited institutions may be satisfactory when accompanied by at least 39 credits of graduate course work or equivalent professional development in the following areas:
- Introduction of School Counseling and Theories
- Human Behavior and Child Development
- Ethical Issues in School Counseling
- College and Career Readiness K-12
- Testing, Measurements, and Research in School Counseling
- The Counselor as Consultant
- Special Education Law and the School Counselor’s Role
- Group Counseling
- Individual Counseling Skills and Strategies
- Family Counseling
- Principles and Practices of a School Counseling Program
Additionally, elementary and secondary school counselor licensure candidates must submit Form C (Verification of School Counseling Clinical Experience). The number of supervised school counseling hours needed varies depending on certification status, but ranges from 350 to 700. Form E/NT (Verification of Non-Teaching Experience) for those with at least four years of out-of-state elementary school counseling experience is also necessary, as well as copies of any current and valid out-of-state licenses. Finally, a test score of 156 or higher on the PRAXIS II Test #5421 “Professional School Counselor” is also required.
Careers for School Counseling Graduates
- Academic Advisor
Academic advisors are responsible for working with secondary and post-secondary students as they progress through academic plans. These professionals keep precise academic records based on frequent meeting with students assigned to them, providing feedback and guidance to ensure successful and timely program completion. They may also provide assistance with course registration, counseling, transfer documentation between departments, and/or institutional standards for graduation. According to PayScale, academic advisors make an average base salary of $44,000 per year.
- College/University Admissions Counselor
College and university admissions counselors are responsible for reviewing incoming student applications and verifying application information. This often entails checking submitted materials meet minimum requirements, as well as assisting in the approvals process. These professionals also follow-up with students regarding application issues and contact the references supplied. They may also be expected to create profiles for each applicant, meet with prospective students, and/or maintain recruitment guidelines. According to PayScale, admissions counselors make an average base salary of $41,850 per year.
- Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Counselor
Employee assistance program counselors are responsible for providing support and assistance to workers who experience issues with personal well-being and/or job-related performance. After careful evaluation, these professionals offer employees counseling or referrals to other professionals. They may also conduct surveys, recommend medications, coordinate with health insurance providers, and answer questions regarding program parameters. According to PayScale, employee assistance program counselors make an average base salary of $60,300 per year.
- High School Special Education Teacher
High school special education teachers are responsible for working with secondary education students who have been diagnosed with learning, mental, emotional, and/or physical disabilities. These professionals often coordinate with other educators to adapt general lesson plans to better suit the unique learning needs of their assigned students. They are also often tasked with assessing student skills, developing Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), planning appropriate activities, providing mentorship, and delivering progress reports to parents and other professionals. According to PayScale, high school special education teachers make an average base salary of $53,450 per year.
- Mental Health Counselor
Mental health counselors are responsible for diagnosing and treating a wide variety of mental health conditions and illnesses. They spend a significant amount of time assisting patients working through various psychological difficulties using curative counseling and/or by encouraging new ways of thinking. While mental health counselors often offer one-on-one counseling and hold group sessions, they rarely have the authority to prescribe medications. According to PayScale, mental health counselors make an average base salary of $45,700 per year.
- School Counselor
School counselors work with students to address a wide variety of tasks. In many cases, they are responsible for helping students develop academic and social skills, but often offer assistance to generate plans for after high school graduation, as well. These professionals provide guidance and support to young people as they work to understand and overcome various challenges. This can entail providing advice to individuals or meeting with students in small groups. Additionally, these professionals often evaluate student abilities, collaborate with teachers when needed, present potential options, provide information about relevant topics, and report cases of possible neglect. According to PayScale, school counselors make an average base salary of $52,300 per year.
- Social Services Manager
Social services managers are responsible for coordinating and supervising public well-being programs and organizations. They typically provide direction to other workers as they offer services to community members and are likely to oversee the administrative aspects of programs and to analyze data to determine program effectiveness, suggest improvements, and write proposals for social services funding. According to PayScale, social services managers make an average base salary of $58,100 per year.
- School and Career Counselors and Advisors. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- May 2021 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Delaware. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Specialist Certification. Delaware Department of Education
- 1500 Professional Standards Board: 1522 Elementary School Counselor. State of Delaware