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How a Dual Degree Can Help Provide Career Flexibility for Aspiring School Counselors

Discover why an online degree in both clinical mental health counseling and school counseling can help lead to deeper career preparation and potentially more job choices in less time.

So, you’re ready to become a school counselor. Congratulations! School counselors can be some of the most influential people in students’ lives, providing academic, personal, and career support throughout the elementary, middle, and high school years.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a school counselor’s job responsibilities may include:1

  • Evaluating students’ abilities and interests through aptitude assessments, interviews, and individual planning.
  • Identifying issues that affect school performance, such as poor classroom attendance rates.
  • Helping students understand and overcome social or behavioral problems through guidance lessons and counseling.
  • Counseling individuals and small groups on the basis of student and school needs.
  • Working with students to develop skills such as organizational and time management, and effective study habits.
  • Helping students create a plan to achieve academic and career goals.
  • Collaborating with teachers, administrators, and parents to help students succeed.

The first step in becoming a school counselor is earning a master’s degree. While an MS degree in school counseling can prepare you to provide critical guidance and support to students in preK–12 settings, an online dual degree in clinical mental health counseling and school counseling provides greater career flexibility. Here’s how:

  • A streamlined education – The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) assesses a program’s curriculum to assure it meets standards set by the profession and includes the appropriate knowledge and skill areas. Counseling degree programs earn accreditation based on this evaluation. Earning an MS degree in clinical mental health counseling and then returning to pursue an MS degree in school counseling is not always possible due to institutional policies held by universities that restrict students from earning a second degree in a similar field, due to an overlap in coursework. However, CACREP’s dual degree policy allows students to complete two CACREP-accredited master’s-level programs at one time, completing core content that applies to both programs.
  • More comprehensive career preparation – Graduates of an accredited dual degree program in clinical mental health counseling and school counseling have the academic training to pursue state licensure as a professional counselor and licensure or certification as a school counselor—though specific requirements do vary by state.
  • More career choices – With a dual degree, you can choose to become a school counselor. But if your interests or needs change after graduating, you can also pursue a range of other job options, including:2,3
    • Career counselor
    • Marriage and family therapist
    • Mental health counselor
    • Clinical therapist
    • Licensed professional counselor
    • Substance abuse counselor
    • Guidance counselor
    • Behavioral disorder counselor
    • Counselor for college and career readiness
    • Child, family, and school social worker
  • Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.

    Pursuing a Dual Degree

    Walden University offers an online MS Dual Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling program with specializations in Addiction Counseling; Forensic Counseling; Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling; Trauma and Crisis Counseling; and Military Families and Culture. A General Program is available as well.

    Students complete core courses, field experiences in both clinical mental health counseling and school counseling, pre-practicum and group labs, optional specialization courses, and more. As a result, graduates earn two MS degrees, are academically prepared to sit for licensure exams, and enter the professional world as a well-rounded job candidate.

    Walden University is an accredited institution offering an MS Dual Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

    1Source: www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/school-and-career-counselors.htm#tab-2
    2Source: www.onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1012.00
    3Source: www.onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1014.00

    Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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