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What is School Counseling?

School counseling is a profession that focuses on helping students achieve their academic and personal goals. School counselors work in elementary, middle, and high schools, providing guidance and support to students, parents, and staff. Their responsibilities include academic advising, career development, social-emotional support, crisis intervention, and advocacy for students' overall well-being.

School counselors play an indispensable role in the lives and academic successes of their pupils. These professionals offer guidance and support, assisting the children navigate their educational journey and overcome any challenges they encounter along the way. If you enjoy helping people, becoming a school counselor might just be your calling.

School counselors are education professionals who are employed at elementary, middle, or secondary schools. Their primary role is providing counseling services for student’s personal, academic, and career development. School counselors act as intermediaries between the various stakeholders involved - students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Their purpose is to support all their needs accordingly.

One of the primary duties of a school counselor is providing counseling sessions to students, which may involve discussing personal matters or career options, or just helping them improve their study skills. School counselors aim to create a safe and nurturing environment where their charges feel free to express themselves and seek guidance. As well as individual counseling sessions, school counselors can also facilitate counseling sessions for groups. These can address topics such as bullying prevention, stress management, and college preparation. Through group discussions and activities facilitated by school counselors, collaboration and peer support among students are fostered.

School counselors also play an essential role in helping their students create academic plans and goals, working closely with them to ensure they take courses necessary for graduation requirements and exploring postsecondary education options. School counselors may also offer advice regarding college applications, scholarship applications, and career pathways.

School counselors work collaboratively with teachers and parents to identify and address behavioral or academic concerns for students. Assessments may also be performed to determine the most suitable plan of action for any students who may be experiencing academic or emotional strain, with school counselors, teachers, and parents all joining forces as an effective team to provide necessary support and resources to assist in helping overcome any challenges the child may encounter in his or her studies.

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Online School Counseling Education in Nebraska

Nebraska requires school counselors to possess at least a master's degree in school counseling or a related field and be licensed by the Nebraska Department of Education - this requires completion of specific coursework, supervised clinical experience, and passing a licensure exam. According to the latest available data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2020 there were approximately 2,160 school counselors employed in Nebraska. This number might vary slightly due to factors such as changes in population and school district needs. Nebraska school counselor employment is projected to increase significantly in coming years as more schools recognize the significance of mental health services within schools and demand increases for comprehensive support services for students facing various challenges.

School counselors in Nebraska work across various educational environments including public, private, and charter schools. They collaborate closely with educators, administrators, and parents to implement effective strategies and programs designed to ensure students' wellbeing and success. Notably, counseling services for children and adolescents does not only take place within traditional academic environments. Many professionals also work within community organizations or private practices after moving out of a counseling role offering counseling services to children and adolescents outside of regular school hours.

Online Associate Degree in School Counseling (AS)

There are several colleges and universities that offer an associate degrees in fields related to counseling, though a school-specific program may not be available at this level. Degree major options include psychology, counseling, social work, and other related educational programs. These programs can certainly provide students with the foundational knowledge and skills necessary to work as school counselors in educational settings once they complete further education. Students in these programs typically take courses such as introduction to counseling, child development, human development, psychology of learning, and group counseling.

In addition to coursework, students pursuing an associate degree in these fields may have the opportunity to gain practical experience through internships or shadowing programs. These hands-on experiences allow students to see knowledge of the field applied in real-world settings and develop important skills such as assessing student needs and collaborating with teachers and parents.

Upon completion of an associate degree program, graduates may find employment opportunities as psychiatric aides or technicians, or they can continue their education by transferring credits toward a bachelor's degree program. The demand for school counselors is expected to grow in the coming years, making this associate degree a valuable steppingstone toward a rewarding career.

Online Bachelors Degree in School Counseling (BS)

When considering a career in school counseling, one of the first steps is to obtain a bachelor's degree in counseling. Again, a degree in school-focused counseling may not be available at this level, but you will find degrees focused on psychology, counseling, social work, childhood development, education, or you can earn a teaching certificate. There are numerous colleges and universities that offer these programs, some with the goal of moving students into a higher-level school counseling program. These programs typically provide students with a more comprehensive understanding of the foundations of counseling, as well as specialized knowledge regarding working with children and adolescents within an educational setting.

In order to become a licensed or certified school counselor, it’s important to choose a program that is accredited by recognized professional organizations. Accreditation ensures that the curriculum meets specific standards and prepares students for the demands of the profession. Many programs also include supervised practicum experiences or internships, which allow students to gain practical skills and real-world experience in schools under the guidance of experienced professionals.

Some common courses found in bachelor's degree programs that will prepare you to work in school counseling include child development, introduction to counseling theories, group counseling techniques, multicultural issues in education, and crisis intervention strategies. These courses provide students with foundational knowledge on topics such as human growth and development, various therapeutic approaches, cultural diversity considerations, and how to effectively respond during times of crisis or trauma within a school community.

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Online Masters Degree in School Counseling (MA)

When it comes to pursuing a career in school counseling, choosing the right college and degree program is crucial. A school counseling program will fully prepare individuals for a successful career in this field. These programs typically provide students with the necessary knowledge and skills required to effectively work with students, parents, and educators in an educational setting.

One of the key aspects to consider when selecting a school counseling program is accreditation. It’s important to ensure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting body, as this ensures that the education you receive meets certain standards of quality and rigor. Additionally, it may be beneficial to research whether the program has any specific accreditations related to school counseling.

Another factor to consider when exploring school counseling colleges and degree programs is the curriculum offered. You will want to look for programs that provide a well-rounded education with courses focused on topics such as child development, group counseling techniques, crisis intervention strategies, and educational administration. It can also be beneficial to find out if there are opportunities for practical experience through internships or supervised clinical placements as part of the program.

Online PhD Degree in School Counseling (PhD)

When considering pursuing a PhD in school counseling, it’s important to carefully examine the different colleges and degree programs available. Each college may have its own unique offerings and areas of specialization within the field of school counseling. Some colleges may offer more research-focused programs, while others may focus on preparing students for leadership roles in counseling or specialized areas, such as career development or mental health counseling within schools.

Degree programs can also vary in terms of their curriculum and requirements, with courses covering counseling theories, how to teach college-level school counseling students, etc. Some programs may require a certain number of credit hours, while others may have specific undergraduate degree courses that must be completed. It’s essential for prospective students to carefully review these requirements to ensure they align with their academic goals and interests. Additionally, students should consider factors such as program length, flexibility (such as part-time or online options), and whether the program offers opportunities for practical experiences or internships.

Overall, researching and comparing different school counseling colleges and degree programs will help individuals make an informed decision about where to pursue their PhD in School Counseling. By considering factors such as specialization areas, curriculum requirements, program length, flexibility, and practical experience opportunities, prospective students can find a program that best suits their academic aspirations and career goals within the field of school counseling.

Online School Counseling Certifications

When considering a career in school counseling, it’s essential to explore the various certifications available in this field. School counseling certifications are specialized credentials that demonstrate a counselor's competence and expertise in providing guidance to students within an educational setting. These certifications not only enhance a counselor's professional development but also increase their job opportunities and earning potential.

One of the most common certifications for school counselors is the National Certified School Counselor (NCSC) credential. Offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), this certification requires candidates to possess a master's degree in school counseling, complete supervised clinical experience, pass an examination, and adhere to ethical standards. The NCSC certification signifies that a school counselor has met national standards for professional practice and can effectively address the academic, career, and personal/social needs of students.

Another popular certification option is provided by state-specific boards or agencies responsible for certifying school counselors. These certifications vary from state to state but typically require similar qualifications as the NCSC credential. State-specific certifications ensure that school counselors meet local requirements and regulations specific to their region. This recognition allows counselors to work legally within their respective states' public schools while ensuring they have acquired the necessary skills and knowledge needed for effective student support.

Become a School Counselor in Nebraska

Are you passionate about helping students succeed academically and emotionally? Do you have a desire to make a positive impact on young lives? If so, a career as a school counselor in Nebraska might be the perfect fit for you. Here are the steps you need to follow to become a school counselor in Nebraska.

  • Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

    Nebraskans looking to become school counselors need first earn an undergraduate degree in one of several related disciplines such as psychology, education, or counseling. Many schools offer undergraduate programs devoted to these topics that cover child development, counseling techniques, and educational psychology among others.

  • Step 2: Complete a Master's Degree Program

    Nebraska requires that those interested in becoming licensed school counselors earn a master's degree in school counseling. This advanced degree program equips you with in-depth knowledge and practical skills necessary for supporting students academically, socially, and emotionally. Completing one generally takes two or three years but will allow you to become a licensed mental health practitioner with a school counseling endorsement.

  • Step 3: Gain Experience through an Internship or Practicum

    Your master's degree program may require that you participate in an internship or practicum at a school setting. This opportunity gives you an opportunity to put into action what you have learned under the supervision of a licensed school counselor. Whether your graduate program requires this or not, you are likely going to need to complete many hours of counseling work under the supervision of an already licensed provider before you earn full licensure.

  • Step 4: Obtain Nebraska State Licensure

    After earning your master's degree and internship, licensure from the Nebraska Department of Education must be secured. Licensure requirements include passing the PRAXIS School Counselor exam, submitting an application, and providing official transcripts.

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What Can I Do with a Bachelor's in School Counseling?

School counseling is a rewarding field, but there aren’t many career opportunities for those with only a bachelor's degree in the subject. Graduates can pursue roles such as teachers if they’ve earned a bachelor’s in education, psychiatric technicians or aides, or they can move into a field where their knowledge of human behavior is helpful, such as human resources or marketing. However, they will not be able to work as school counselors, guidance counselors, or academic advisors in K-12 educational settings until they earn a master’s degree in the field. These professionals play a crucial role in supporting students' emotional, social, and academic development but they must earn the appropriate education before they can gain licensure.

However, individuals with a bachelor's degree in school counseling may find employment opportunities outside of traditional schools. They could work in community organizations focused on youth development or non-profit organizations that offer educational services to underserved populations. Those graduates who choose to continue their education by pursuing advanced degrees, such as a master's or doctoral degree in school counseling, to gain more specialized knowledge will be able to advance their careers further.

Potential Careers for School Counseling Graduates

  • Counselor:

    College counselors help their clients navigate the arduous college admissions process with guidance and support to enable informed decisions about their future education. They assist their clients in finding suitable colleges and universities, creating an application strategy, preparing for interviews and standardized tests, as well as giving guidance about career exploration options, financial aid, and scholarship possibilities.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Bachelor's degree in counseling, education, or a related field (Master's degree preferred)
    • Previous experience working as a college counselor or in a related field

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for school and career counselors and advisors in the US in 2021 was $60,510
    • The mean annual wage for educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors in Nebraska is $64,260
  • Juvenile Justice Counselor:

    A juvenile justice counselor is responsible for providing counseling and guidance to juvenile offenders within the justice system. They work closely with youth, their families, and other professionals to develop rehabilitation plans and interventions aimed at reducing recidivism and promoting positive behavior change.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Bachelor's or master's degree in counseling, psychology, social work

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in the US in 2021 was $48,520
    • The mean annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in Nebraska is $54,200
  • Caseworker:

    Caseworkers provide assistance and support to individuals or families in need, often through social service agencies, healthcare facilities, or government offices. Caseworkers assess clients' needs, develop care plans, and link them with relevant resources and services.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Bachelor's degree in social work, psychology, or a related field (Master's degree preferred)
    • Previous experience in casework or social services is highly desirable
    • Knowledge of relevant laws, regulations, and community resources
    • Strong communication and interpersonal skills to establish rapport with clients
    • Ability to work independently and make sound decisions
    • Empathy and compassion for individuals facing challenges

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for social workers in the US in 2021 was $50,390
    • The mean annual wage for social workers, all other in Nebraska is $63,140
  • Marriage and Family Therapist:

    Marriage and family therapists specialize in providing counseling and therapy services to individuals, couples, and families experiencing various relationship problems. Their main objectives include improving communication, helping families resolve conflicts more easily, and creating overall emotional well-being within family units.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy or a related field
    • State licensure or certification as a Marriage and Family Therapist
    • Proven experience in providing counseling services to individuals, couples, and families
    • Strong knowledge of various therapeutic approaches for relationship issues
    • Excellent communication skills and ability to empathize with clients
    • Ability to maintain strict confidentiality and adhere to ethical guidelines

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for marriage and family therapists in the US in 2021 was $49,880
    • The mean annual wage for marriage and family therapists in Nebraska is $53,990
  • Social Worker:

    A social worker is responsible for helping and support to individuals, families, and communities facing various challenges. They work to enhance the overall well-being and quality of life of their clients by assessing their needs, developing intervention plans, and connecting them with appropriate resources and services.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Bachelor's or master's degree in social work or a related field
    • State licensure or certification as a social worker (requirements vary by state)
    • Strong knowledge of social work theories, principles, and practices
    • Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for social workers in the US in 2021 was $50,390
    • The mean annual wage for child, family, and school social workers in Nebraska is $44,200
  • Mental Health Counselor:

    Mental health counselors provide professional counseling services to individuals experiencing mental health challenges, work closely with clients to assess their needs, develop treatment plans, and offer guidance and support throughout therapy processes. Some specialized areas may include addiction therapy, trauma therapy, or family therapy.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Master's degree in Counseling or a related field from an accredited institution
    • State licensure or certification as a Mental Health Counselor
    • Strong knowledge of various therapeutic techniques and interventions

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in the US in 2021 was $48,520
    • The mean annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in Nebraska is $54,200
  • Social and Community Service Manager:

    Social and community service managers are charged with planning, coordinating, and implementing various social and community service programs and initiatives. Working closely with community organizations, government agencies, and non-profit groups they identify needs, create strategies, and help individuals and families in need.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Bachelor's degree in social work, public administration, or a related field (Master's degree preferred)
    • Proven experience in managing social service programs or community development initiatives
    • Knowledge of local, state, and federal regulations pertaining to social services

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for social and community service managers in the US in 2021 was $74,000
    • The mean annual wage for social and community service managers in Nebraska is $78,800
  • Psychologist:

    School psychologists provide crucial services to their student populations and assist in helping them flourish academically, socially, and emotionally. They work closely with educators, parents, and other professionals in creating a conducive and welcoming learning environment for all learners.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Master's degree or higher in School Psychology or a related field
    • Valid state certification or licensure as a school psychologist
    • Knowledge of psychological assessment tools and techniques
    • Strong understanding of child development, learning theories, and educational systems
    • Excellent communication skills, including the ability to effectively collaborate with teachers

    Estimated Salary

    • The mean annual wage for school psychologists in the US in 2021 was $87,550
    • The mean annual wage for school psychologists in Nebraska is $77,650

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