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What is School Counseling?

Florida is one of the most iconic states in the United States. Its distinctive geography is immediately identifiable to people all over the world who head there for their annual vacations. In fact, Florida is one of the most popular global vacation destinations. Its parks and resorts, beaches, and wetland beauty make it attractive to visitors of all sorts. On top of that, its warm winter temperatures make it even more attractive to so-called snowbirds from all over who enjoy the warm weather when the temperature drops further north.

While Florida may attribute 10% of its GDP to travel and tourism, its economy is more than fun and games. Its top industry is real estate, much of which is driven by the retiring northerners who seek more warmth and sunshine in their sunset years. The second strongest industry is professional and business services, a sector that includes waste management, administrative support, and remediation services. The state is also driven by its social services sector, retail activities, and wholesale trade.

A school counselor is an educational professional who works in the schools and helps students overcome their personal difficulties. They are not unlike counselors who focus on working professionals, but these counselors specialize in youngsters and their relationship to school. School counselors are also there to help the whole student body when trouble arises.

These days, students face a lot of stress and uncertainty, especially when they learn of or face school tragedies. Counselors are there to address the student body with words that may help ease anxieties, while also being available to individuals who may have more profound reactions. Each counselor is specifically trained to know how to work with the specific age group in their school.

In fact, like teachers, each school counselor focuses their degrees on an age group such as elementary grades, middle grades, or high school. They also take a PRAXIS exam, much like teachers do, that focuses on their profession as it relates to their chosen age group.

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Online School Counseling Education in Florida

Given that social services, including education, rank as Florida's 4th largest industrial sector, and the fact that there will always be schools wherever there are people, it's clear that school counseling is a significant factor in the state's economic health. Further, since Florida has the nation's 4th largest education, social services, and social assistance industry, their school counselors have a wider impact.

To help support this vital part of the state's economic and social well-being, Florida's leaders seek to support its colleges and universities, including the departments that yield their brilliant school counselors. Not only do funds go to fund teacher preparation degree programs that yield brilliant teachers, but also psychology departments that send graduates into school counseling master's degree programs.

Florida is also home to great master's school counseling degree programs. Every school counseling professional needs a master's degree to pursue their passion in Florida's school system. Students sometimes pursue programs that are explicitly labeled as school counseling master's programs but also Master of Education degree programs that have a counseling component.

With ample funding from the legislature, Florida's school counseling degree program faculty can recruit and maintain the best instructors and tenured professors possible. They conduct national searches for the very best that academia has to offer, but they also search the local area. When they include local professionals in their faculties, students learn not only about the core counseling profession but also how Florida's culture and laws impact it.

A counselor education program can be found in a variety of school options across the state. Comprehensive school counseling programs may also have degrees that can lead to careers in clinical mental health counseling, family counseling, group counseling, career counseling, rehabilitation counseling, and other related educational programs. You might want to consider schools such as the Florida International University - Miami, Florida State University, Florida Atlantic University, Florida State University - Tallahassee, and other private and public school options.

All school counselors must achieve a master's school counseling degree before they can begin their career. The state of Florida, as well as every other state, requires that any person who performs one-on-one therapy sessions hold a master's degree and satisfies the state's other licensure requirements. Some counselors even earn a PhD in school counseling. Though not a requirement, counselors with a PhD can earn more and have enhanced status. Further, for those who decide to leave the school environment, either a master's or PhD can help them launch a private counseling practice.

Online Associate Degree in School Counseling (AS)

A two-year associate school counseling degree won't be enough to land a position as a school counselor, but it's definitely a good start. With a two-year associate degree from a Florida community college, graduates could begin a career as a Paraprofessional, also known as a teacher's aide or parapro. Some parapros specialized in special education students and are sometimes paired with an individual student who they shadow throughout the day.

An associate school counseling degree is also helpful in that students not only study school counseling, but they complete the core college curriculum or general education courses. Since community college credits are far more affordable than credits at a four-year college or university, students are able to complete half of a bachelor’s counseling degree at a steep discount. This core educational experience can also help students learn which areas interest the most and further assist them in finding the Florida bachelor’s counseling degree that suits them best.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in School Counseling (BS)

Students who are set on a career as a school counseling professional should certainly enroll in a bachelor’s school counseling degree program. They might even choose to study psychology apart from the education department. In fact, they will likely need to show certain courses on their transcripts prior to enrolling in a full master's school counseling degree program that are included in the psychology program.

Along the way to completing a bachelor’s counseling degree program, students can broaden their horizons in many ways. Some may choose to take a minor concentration in fields such as sociology, anthropology, or even economics. Each of these fields can inform their later career in social science and clinical practice. Students should also consider taking introductory courses in the education department so that they have a fundamental understanding of teaching and the school system in general.

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Online Master’s Degree in School Counseling (MS or MC)

Every school counselor has a master's school counseling degree as a minimum standard for their profession. Master's school counseling degree programs are specifically structured to help students meet Florida's requirements for the profession. They thus engage in practicums where they work inside schools and help troubled students. Florida's department of education requires that school counseling degree candidates complete at least 600 hours of supervised training in a Florida public or private school under the watch of a licensed professional.

Master's students will also need to pass the PRAXIS exam appropriate to school counseling. Thus, even school counselors need to hold a valid teaching credential even if they aren't assigned to a classroom. This will all pay off when students arrive on their first day as a school's counselor. Further, they may one day choose to leave the school system and work as independent counselors. Their credentials and experience will result in a very successful practice indeed.

Online PhD Degree in School Counseling (PhD)

A PhD in school counseling is the apex credential for this career. Though many have successful careers with only a master's school counseling degree, those with a PhD can earn more and enjoy an elevated professional status. Unsurprisingly, some school districts will probably prefer to hire a PhD for their school counseling position because hiring standards tend to favor the most qualified professionals. PhDs are always paid more in school systems and may find it easier to renew their contracts since there are fewer PhDs in the job market.

When a counselor has a PhD, they may be able to make a smoother transition to private practice. Their credentials will enable them to charge insurance plans more, and clients may be drawn to a doctorate. Further, a PhD will enable the holder to land a tenure track position with a college or university. They may also find it easier to publish articles and books.

Become a School Counselor in Florida

School counselors are, unfortunately, receiving more attention these days. Students in schools from coast to coast are experiencing more anxiety in light of the horrific tragedies occurring in US schools. School counselors are naturally called upon to help students overcome their fears and proceed on their personal road to success. It is, in part, due to this interaction that some students are inspired to follow in the footsteps of these educational heroes. However, the road to become a school counselor in Florida may not always seem clear.

Students will be happy to learn that becoming a school counselor in Florida is a rather straightforward process. It's not easy, by any means, but those who have what it takes will soon have the career of their dreams. The first step is to earn a bachelor’s degree that creates a strong foundation for a counselor. Many students will earn a bachelor’s psychology degree, but any degree that is related to counseling should suffice. After all, the goal in your undergraduate years is to create a transcript that graduate school counseling departments will appreciate.

Along the way, students should not only study psychology but they may also want to add some courses from the education department. An introductory course or two will be immensely helpful later on. Students should also consider what age group they'd like to work with. That is, do they want to work with elementary, middle grades, or high school students? With that in mind, they can take an education course that makes the most sense. Further, when they work on their field study in their developmental psychology courses, they can work with the age group that best suits them.

Toward the end of the undergraduate years, students should start looking for the best master's school counseling degree program. Some universities offer this as a degree unto itself, while others offer a Master of Education that has a concentration for school counselors. Students need to evaluate these programs and decide which will work the best for them. They should also look for internships or jobs where they are able to work with the age group they're most drawn to. Experience as a summer camp counselor, after-school teacher's aide, or some other hands-on experience with children will look great on a graduate school application.

School counseling graduate degree programs will then help students gain the academic and practical experience they need to succeed. These programs typically confer with the state board of education to ensure that students receive the very best preparation. Then, upon graduation, students will have little trouble finding an employment contract in a school they will soon grow to love.

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Careers for School Counseling Graduates

  • School Counselor
    This career path is for those who want to impact the lives of children but who are more interested in their inner lives than their academic experience. School counselors need to hold a master's degree and a teaching credential, on top of other qualifying elements that satisfy their state's BOE requirements.
  • Career Counselor
    These counselors do not do psychotherapy, but they do help students live their best lives. Career counselors hold graduate degrees and work on university campuses. They spend a lot of time organizing career fairs that focus on specific career areas, but they can also help individual students with assessment tests which are designed to help students decide what sort of career suits them best.
  • Marriage and Family Therapist
    These mental health professionals work exclusively with couples and their families. To become a marriage and family therapist, it's necessary to earn a master's counseling degree. Counselors who are fully licensed with their state can then open a private practice or join an existing counseling practice.
  • Social Worker
    This job description suits a wide range of workers who help disadvantaged individuals access the resources they need the most. Some are case workers who seek out the resources their clients need, but there are also social workers who work in a hands-on capacity to help their clients.
  • Substance Abuse Counselor
    Sadly, the opioid epidemic has compounded an already dire situation in society. Rates of addiction and overdose have pushed states to offer counseling licenses to people of all academic levels. However, to conduct one-on-one counseling with an addicted person, the counselor will need a master's degree and the appropriate state license. Non-master's level professionals can still work with substance abuse disorder patients but in a group setting.
  • College Counselor
    Since one's college years are so vital to long-term success and well-being, many students seek out college counselors. These counselors guide students in a way that gives them the best shot of enrolling in their first-choice college or university. Even students who have already completed a year of college but who now are at a crossroads can use a college counselor to determine their next best step.
  • Special Education Teacher
    A special education teacher is an education professional who works with students for whom learning is difficult. Some of their students may have profound cognitive disabilities, while others may be blind, deaf, or working with dyslexia. This position in schools is often well-paid, but teachers must create lengthy, highly detailed Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for each of their students. That IEP must then be approved by the child's parents, and perhaps a social worker, too.
  • Academic Advisor
    Advisors are often college professors who work with students in their department. Advisors review their student’s records and help them choose their classes, with an eye towards graduation and long-term success.
  • Counselor in Private Practice
    Mental health counselors who work in private practice must be licensed by their state to conduct one-on-one psychotherapy sessions with clients. They must therefore have a master's counseling degree as a minimum requirement, if not a PhD.

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