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Al­ter­na­tive Careers for School Counselors

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If you’re working as a school counselor, now is a good time to explore your options. Although being a school counselor is a rewarding profession, you may want to expand your career path. School counselors have a huge responsibility and face many challenges. With so many changes occurring in the educational system, counselors face issues with students who are struggling with learning via technology, gender issues, concerns surrounding immigration, and more. There are also several challenges that are unique to the school and communities they serve.

School counselors have taken the time to get a degree and are certified and licensed educators. That means they can also work in a classroom when needed. They help students figure out achievement strategies; help with the management of emotions while teaching coping skills, and help students plan for their next move after high school.

Their roles are diverse. They also provide short-term counseling, refer students who need additional support for the long-term, collaborate with families, teachers, and administrators, advocate for students in meetings and when they have educational challenges, help students plan out their goals, and develop a plan to achieve them, provides data that identifies student challenges, needs, and issues that need improvement. School counselors are present at every meeting students have with parents and teachers to make sure there is no bias and the student’s best interest is represented at all times.

For the most part, school counselors are the catalyst for change for their students and work on their behalf and the betterment of the environment they learn in.

These are a few alternate jobs for school counselors:

1. Health Educator

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A health educator educates people on healthcare services and their availability. These are also called community health workers. They also help develop programs that teach people about conditions and ailments that may be affecting them and assist with adopting a healthy behavior mindset.

The pay for this position ranges from $42,000 to $56,500 but may change based on region and experience.

2. Mental Health Case Manager/Counselor

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A mental health case manager or counselor helps advise individuals who suffer from mental health or behavioral problems. They work in varied settings, like community health centers, mental health centers, in private practice, or correctional facilities.

The pay for this type of position starts at $47,660.

3. Social Service Manager

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A social service manager helps support the well-being of the public while coordinating and supervision programs and organizations. This role is expected to grow by 15% between 2020 to 2030, which is faster than the average occupational outlook.

The pay for this begins at $69,600 per year.

4. Marriage and Family Therapist

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A marriage and family therapist helps people with the management of marital and family problems and how they affect their relationships with others. This position also requires at least a master’s degree. They also have a license to practice in this capacity.

The pay for this role begins at $51,340 per year.

5. Social Worker

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A social worker’s role is to help people cope with their problems while recognizing triggers to solve them before they occur. This role works in a variety of settings and may have to work weekends, holidays, and evenings. A standard social worker only needs a bachelor’s degree, but a clinical social worker must have at least a master’s degree and two years of post-master’s experience in a clinical setting that is supervised. Clinical social workers must also be licensed to practice in the state.

The pay for this role begins at $51,760.

6. Juvenile Justice Counselor

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A juvenile justice counselor is similar to a mental health counselor focused on assisting troubled youth. They work with juveniles to help overcome any mental health or societal issues they may be facing while developing strategies for them to succeed. They work with people under 18 who have been adjudicated for a crime. They are also part of an overall treatment team. They just have a bachelor’s degree at a minimum, but a master’s degree in social services is preferred and may be required in certain states. They must also have supervised clinical experience.

The salary for this role has a medium of $36,240 and $54,590.

7. Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Counselor

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An EAP counselor is someone working under the umbrella of Human Resources to provide support and services to employees. They help these employees deal with stressors of life by providing resources and coping mechanisms for mental health issues, addictions, marital support, and other issues. They also help employees that are going through workplace conflicts or workplace-related trauma. These are usually licensed therapists and have a master’s degree in social work, marriage and family therapy, psychology, professional counseling, or a similar area.

Depending on the company’s level of expertise, additional services in the legal, financial, and retirement areas may be present.

The average salary for an EAP counselor is $71,848 but may change based on region and experience.

8. Community Service Manager

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A community service manager is like a social manager, coordinating and supervision of programs that work for the benefit of the community-at-large. This role only requires a bachelor’s degree and is projected to grow 15% from 2020 to 2030 which is faster than the average. There is a certain degree of work experience needed prior to starting a role of this nature. You will find community service managers working for government agencies, for-profit social service entities, and nonprofit organizations.

The pay for this role begins at $69,600 per year.

9. Substance Abuse Counselor

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Substance abuse counselors work with individuals who have addictions to alcohol, drugs, and may also be suffering from mental and behavioral problems as a result. You will find these individuals working in community health centers, mental health centers, correctional facilities, hospitals, and private practice. While a bachelor’s degree is required, many roles of this nature require a master’s degree and certification in substance abuse and behavioral disorders. They must also have a supervised internship to move forward.

The pay for this role begins around $47,660 per year.

10. Correctional Treatment Specialist

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A correctional treatment specialist aids in the rehabilitation of offenders who are incarcerated, on probation, or on parole. They are often categorized with probation officers. These roles usually need a bachelor’s degree, and they must pass a written, oral, and psychological exam. This role is expected to grow by 4% between 2020 and 2030. This role can be dangerous and is very stressful due to their hands-on in high-crime areas and possibly violent offenders.

The pay for this role is $55,690 per year.

(0-12 MONTHS)
(1-4 YEARS)
(5-9 YEARS)
(10-19 YEARS)
School Counselor$43,900$46,400$51,630$58,700
Career Counselor$40,500$43,410$46,890$49,650
Mental Health Counselor$39,190$40,970$45,530$49,180
Addiction Counselor$37,980$39,110$38,630$41,970

Source: PayScale

What Are Some Reasons a School Counselor May Change Careers?

School counselors may change careers because they see opportunities elsewhere. They may also feel helpless because there are so many administrative changes going on and their hands are tied. Being a school counselor is a tough job, and they often experience fatigue and mental stress.

It can become even more challenging when faced with a lack of guidance, parental support, not enough finances or resources to do what they were hired to do, uncooperative students and clients, and not enough time to get the job done. They may also experience negativity within the school setting from teachers and administrators who may not agree with how they counsel students. It is no secret that the average school counselor ratio is double the recommended 250-to-1 by the American School Counselor Association.

Based on the roles above, there are many options a school counselor can seamlessly move into without having to acquire additional education or skills. For the more detailed roles, going back to school for an additional two years and getting certified or licensed may be a good move that could be very lucrative, since they already have experience dealing with people. With this new role, they may be able to start at a higher rate than the norm given their history and experience.

What are Important Skills a School Counselor Can Take into a New Career?

School counselors are prepared for several career paths. They have a well-rounded skill set that includes communication skills, presentation skills, listening skills, and assessment skills. Most school counselors have empathy, are friendly, and can adapt to many situations. They know how to coordinate while being authoritative and can evaluate a situation without bias. Additional skills include organization, knowledge of tech, the ability to think on their feet, and a desire to help people succeed.

One of the most important skills a school counselor must have to move forward into one of the roles listed is tenacity. While being a school counselor can be stressful, the level of stress they may encounter moving into these other roles can be difficult, especially if they are only dealing with the adult population and not children in the educational setting.

Is a school counselor prepared to tackle one of these alternative roles for school counselors? Yes, they are. They are well equipped with the knowledge and foundation to make a smooth transition into another area of counseling and should have no problems with becoming acclimated to their new surroundings.


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