School counselors work with students of all ages, and understanding the salary potential of a school counselor could help a person with their career decisions. The salaries of these counselors vary based on the educational niche, location, education level, and years of experience. Knowing the potential salary of a counselor in different school systems makes it easier to plan for the future.
Salary Potential By Educational Niche
The median wage for school counselors was $56,310 in May 2018. The lowest 10 percent of earners had an annual median wage of about $33,000, while the highest 10 had an annual median wage of more than $90,000. There are some differences in earnings based on the educational niche of the school counselor. Those in public or private elementary or secondary schools had the highest median wages, averaging $63,280 per year. Those in junior colleges, colleges, or universities earned an average of $50,050 per year. Educational counselors in healthcare and social work settings had the lowest annual median wages, earning an average of $38,790 per year.
Salaries for School Counselors By Education and Experience
Another way to look at the earnings potential for school counselors is by education and experience. Those with a doctorate or masters in counseling or specialty certifications in counseling may command a higher salary. The more years of experience that a counselor has, the more they typically earn. School counseling professionals with additional skills such as fluency in American Sign Language or emergency response may also earn a higher than average salary.
School Counselor Salary Potential By State
People earning a degree in educational counseling may have preferences about the locations of where they live and work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics analyzes earnings by state and territory. The top five paying states or districts for school counselors in May 2018 were California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington, D.C. Each of these places had annual average earnings of more than $67,050 for educational counselors. California and New York are also in the top five states for the highest concentration of jobs for school counseling professionals.
School Counselor Earnings By Metropolitan Area or City
A person earning a degree in school counseling may want to hone their job search down to a particular city or metropolitan area. While cities tend to have higher than average costs of living compared to towns or rural areas, they also tend to have higher than average annual wages. For example, the top five cities or metropolitan areas for the highest median annual pay for school counselors in May 2018 were Riverside/San Bernardino, Stockton/Lodi, Leominster/Gardner, Ocean City, and Grand Island. Grand Island has the lowest cost of living out of all of the cities in this top five list, so the salary of a school counselor living there has a higher relative valuation.
Salary potentials for school counselors should be evaluated by the cost of living and other factors, such as work hours and required education and certification. Do not forget to include the other benefits of a job, such as health insurance, paid time off, and paid continuing education credits when comparing one salary offer to another. The salary potential for school counselors is one important part of deciding which career path to take and which job offer to accept.