Becoming a College Counselor: Salary Info & Job Description

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Get the truth about a college counselor's salary, education requirements and career prospects. Read the job description and see the pros and cons of becoming a college counselor.
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Pros and Cons of a College Counselor Career

College counselors are active participants in helping students in areas like selecting a college and navigating the admission process. Check out the pros and cons of a career as a college counselor to see if this career path is a good fit for you.

Pros of a Career in College Counseling
Average (12%) job growth expected for school and career counselors in colleges, universities and professional schools from 2012 to 2022*
Opportunity to work independently**
Organizations like the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) offer professional and educational support
You could help students choose the right college and receive financial aid***

Cons of a Career in College Counseling
Some employers may require a master's degree*
May need credentialing from your state to practice*
Night and weekend hours are often required****
If you choose to work independently, you may experience some resistance from colleges with their own counselors**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Higher Education Consultants Association, ***National Association for College Admission Counseling, ****Monster.com.

Essential Career Info

Job Description and Duties

College counselors help students with the transition from high school to college. They also assist in the college admission process and should be familiar with numerous colleges, including their admission requirements and what they offer in terms of an individual student's chosen career path. College counselors provide help with obtaining financial aid and scholarships as well as testing and essay strategies.

In addition to working in a high school setting, career paths for a college counselor include working as a college-based admissions counselor or an independent college education consultant. Admission counselors spend a lot of their time recruiting prospective students, while independent college consultants provide one-on-one college planning assistance to students and their families. They may also assist students with learning disabilities.

Salary and Job Growth Info

According to the BLS, the 2014 average salary for school and career counselors was about $56,000. PayScale.com reported in 2015 that most people employed as admission counselors earned between about $28,000 and $47,000. PayScale.com also reported in the same year that most people employed as education consultants earned approximately $38,000-$92,000.

The BLS predicted that school and career counselors in colleges, professional schools and universities would see a 12% growth in employment between 2012 and 2022. Jobs will vary greatly depending on location, however, due to differences in funding.

Education Requirements and Career Prospects

Education Requirements

The minimum education requirements for a career as a college admission counselor generally includes a bachelor's degree from a related area, such as education, public relations, psychology, counseling or communications. You may also need to be credentialed as a school counselor by the state in which you live, which would require a master's degree. According to the American School Counseling Association, many states require that you pass an exam, including California, Illinois and Texas.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Employers looking for college admission counselors often note in the job description that prospective candidates will be responsible for the recruitment of students. Because attendance at off-campus events is typically required, many college admission counselors may work nights and weekends. Below you will find a few job postings for college admissions counselors from April 2012:

  • A graduate school of psychology in Chicago wanted for an admission counselor with one year of experience and a bachelor's degree. Applicants should be comfortable recruiting prospective students and meeting with both students and their families. Travel, as well as night and weekend hours, is required.
  • A university in Florida advertised for an admission counselor with a bachelor's degree and a willingness to be flexible and able to adapt to new environments. The prospective employee will work with students to make educational decisions.
  • A college in New York posted that they were looking for an entry-level admission counselor with a bachelor's degree. Nights and weekends are required as the counselor will be responsible for representing the college at off-campus events. This position also requires the admission counselor to read through applications and interview prospective students.

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

To increase your employability, you might take advantage of the training and networking opportunities available by becoming a member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). If you work as an independent consultant and would like to become a voting member, you must have three years of experience, a formal recommendation, bachelor's degree and provide a list of the services you offer.

Schools may offer certificate programs in college admissions. You might consider enrolling in such a program as an opportunity to increase your professional development so that you may advance your career or become an independent consultant. Prerequisites for a certificate program in college admissions might include that you have a bachelor's degree. You might also consider enrolling into a master's degree program in counseling that offers a specialization in college counseling.

Other Fields to Consider

Social Worker

If you decide that being a college counselor is not the career path for you, but you would still like to work with children, you might consider a career as a social worker. As a social worker, you will spend your time helping people with their problems. A direct-service social worker position, such as working in a school setting, requires a bachelor's or master's degree. Social workers may spend a lot of time out of the office and they might also work evenings and weekends. According to the BLS, the average salary for school, family and child social workers was around $44,000 in 2011. The BLS also predicted a 25%, or faster than average, job growth from 2010-2020.

Human Resources Specialist

If working with children and young adults isn't the right fit for you but you're still interested in recruitment, you might consider becoming a human resources specialist. Human resources specialists spend their time recruiting, interviewing and being involved in the hiring of employees for the business in which they work. In order to recruit employees, human resources specialists may travel off-site.

They could also have the responsibilities of handling payroll, providing training, explaining benefits and working to solve employees' problems within the office. Generally, such a career requires a bachelor's degree. The BLS listed that, as of 2011, the average salary for human resources specialists was approximately $59,000. The BLS also predicted a 21% growth in employment from 2010-2010.

Popular Schools

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    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: Higher Education - Student Affairs
      • MS in Educational Psychology
      • Master: Higher Education - College Admin./Leadership
      • Master: Higher Education - College Teaching/Learning
  • Online Programs Available
    2. The George Washington University

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    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Educational Leadership and Administration
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    3. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision
      • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Integrating Technology, Learning, and Psychology
      • Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership - Higher Education Leadership
      • Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership in - K-12 Leadership
      • EdS in K-12 Leadership
    Master's
      • MS in Professional Counseling
      • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
      • M.Ed. in Educational Administration
      • M.Ed. in Educational Leadership
      • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Educational Studies (Does Not Lead to Teacher Licensure)
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    4. Concordia University Portland

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    Master's
      • Master of Education - Curriculum & Instruction: Leadership
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    5. Regent University

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    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Coaching and Mentoring
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Psychology
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    6. University of the Southwest

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSEd - School Counseling
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    7. Baker College Online

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    Master's
      • Educational Leadership: Higher Education - MSEE (Master's)
      • Educational Leadership: K-12 - MSEE (Master's)
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    8. Northcentral University

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    Doctorate
      • Ed.D. - Higher Education Leadership
      • PhD in Education - Educational Leadership
      • PhD in Psychology - General Psychology
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      • M.Ed. - Higher Education Leadership
      • M.A. in Psychology - General Psychology
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    Certificate
      • Education Specialist - Instructional Leadership
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    9. Saint Joseph's University

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    Master's
      • MS in Education - Special Education and Wilson Reading System Certification
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    10. Lewis University

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    Master's
      • MA in Organizational Leadership - Professional and Executive Coaching
      • MA in Organizational Leadership - Higher Education - Student Services

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master: Higher Education - Student Affairs
  • MS in Educational Psychology
  • Master: Higher Education - College Admin./Leadership

Which subject are you interested in?

The George Washington University

  • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Educational Leadership and Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision
  • MS in Professional Counseling
  • B.S. in Educational Studies (Does Not Lead to Teacher Licensure)

What is your highest level of education?

Concordia University Portland

  • Master of Education - Curriculum & Instruction: Leadership
  • M.S. - Educational Leadership
  • MEd in Curriculum and Instruction - Educational Technology Leadership

What is your highest level of education?

Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Coaching and Mentoring
  • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Psychology
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology

What is your highest level of education completed?

University of the Southwest

  • MSEd - School Counseling

What is your highest level of education?

Baker College Online

  • Educational Leadership: Higher Education - MSEE (Master's)
  • Educational Leadership: K-12 - MSEE (Master's)

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • Ed.D. - Higher Education Leadership
  • M.Ed. - Higher Education Leadership
  • Education Specialist - Instructional Leadership

What is your highest level of education?