Can I Become a School Counselor with a Master’s in Psychology?

Does a master’s degree in psychology qualify you to become a school counselor? The answer is yes…and no. School counselors impact the lives of children from kindergarten to twelfth grade and expertise in working with a student population is needed. Besides a psychology degree, you need a concentration in education counseling. The National Association of School Counselors provides standards for curriculum through the National Model that prepare students for later licensure.

Why is the Education Component Crucial

School counselors work with young children who may have serious adjustment problems or behavior issues. Older pupils may need help with peer interaction and high school students may only need advice in what courses to take. Some students have special needs and counselors must assess the child and recommend programs and interventions for him. School counselors also have to work closely with teachers and administrators to achieve the best educational outcome for the child. In all these activities, counselors must address the problems from an educational perspective. In addition, students are wise to take courses in specialization areas such as developmentally delayed children or special needs education. These extra areas of specialization make you more marketable to schools when you apply for positions.

What Skills do I Need to become a School Counselor?

According to “Inner Body .com,” one of the most needed skills in this career is proficiency in communication. This means listening as well as written and speaking skills, because younger children may not have the exact words to communicate their needs. Counselors must also be keenly organized and detail-oriented. They must keep accurate and complete records of their contacts. In addition, counselors must respect the privacy of their clients. There are ethical issues involved, and sometimes legalities like reporting suspected child abuse. Your position may even entail testifying in court, so an ability to focus is also helpful.

Do I Need a License or Certification?

After coursework at the master’s level, most colleges require an internship, or practicum period. A master’s degree in another field may be tailored to fit the education requirements if additional courses are taken, and the practicum completed. Practicum is followed by an internship under the mentorship of a practicing school psychologist. Some states may accept that internship to satisfy their experience requirement, and some will ask for specialized experiential work. Colorado, for instance, requires 100 hours of practicum and 600 clock hours of internship at the level you intend to counsel. Delaware requires a ten-month internship or three years of experience. Meeting the qualifications entitles you to sit for the board exams. Some states have reciprocity, or the practice of accepting qualified applicants from other states if they present letters of standing certification from the state where they practiced. A post on “” recommends checking the Department of Education for the state where you want to practice to make sure you meet the requirements.

You can become a school psychologist with a master’s degree in psychology as long as you satisfy the requirements for the education component. That may mean taking additional coursework and practicum, and carefully following state guidelines.