How Much Money Do School Guidance Counselors Make?

School guidance counselors are a vital part of a child's school experience. According to the American School Counselor Association, guidance counselors are tasked with ensuring each and every student is given the opportunity to succeed. They provide individual plans for students in need and offer one-on-one short-term counseling or help find long-term solutions for a child. They also work with the family and the community as a whole to ensure each school-aged child is given the tools they need.


Children of all ages experience a lot of hardships during their school years. Whether a child is experiencing problems in school, like bullying or issues with schoolwork, or outside of school, like anxiety, depression, or problems at home, a school counselor can be the first resource for that student to seek help, per Career Explorer. Being a school guidance counselor can be extremely fulfilling as you can be the reason a child succeeds in school and in life. If you are interested in pursuing this as a career, here's what you can expect in terms of salary.

School guidance counselors make an average salary

School guidance counselors hold a lot of importance, but depending on where you live, the salary may not match up to the expectations. According to Resilient Educator, the amount of money you earn as a counselor varies greatly by the state you work in. Overall, the average salary for a school counselor is between $46,458 and $65,301. There are a few counselors, though, that can make up to $96,000, but that only accounts for the top 10%, per The Balance Careers.


If you do want to be paid that higher salary range, consider moving to California. According to U.S. News & World Report, the highest reported counselor salaries are for those who work in five specific California cities: Riverside, El Centro, Fresno, Stockton, and Napa. Of course, not all of us have the ability to live or move to the west coast. On the east coast, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Maryland are the top paying states for school guidance counselors. But, while the salary ranges may not be the highest, it is still not easy to become a counselor.

How to become a school guidance counselor

According to The Balance Careers, you will need to obtain a master's degree before becoming a school guidance counselor. That degree needs to be in school counseling and must come from an accredited university, per Online Counseling Programs. Some courses you can expect to take range from behavior disorders to counseling ethics.


In addition to your degree, you will also be required to complete a hands-on internship while still in school. This will have you working alongside a school counselor in a school setting for a number of hours. Your state will determine the hours required, so be sure to check those requirements before beginning. Each state will then require you to pass their state exam to become a licensed counselor. You can then choose to continue your education and become specialized in a specific sector of school counseling. Most of these extra certifications are not mandatory but can be helpful when it comes to landing the job you want.