Becoming an Academic Counselor – Degrees and Schooling Guide [2024]

Do you have a passion for learning? Have you always been the person that people go to for advice? Do you love working with students in an academic environment? If so, then a career as an academic counselor may be the choice for you.

Read on to learn more about what exactly an academic counselor does every day, how much education you will be required to obtain a position in this field, what personal skills you will need to be successful, and how much money you may make.

What is Academic Counseling?

Academic counseling is something that can be found in almost all colleges and universities and is an integral part of student life on many campuses.

Academic counseling is the process of advising students on a number of issues that students may face throughout their educational careers. These issues may include advice on classes to take, post-graduation career choices, tutoring, financial aid, and personal counseling.

Academic counseling can be done as a group or on an individual basis. An example is tutoring an entire class in preparation for an exam or counseling a single student on a particular topic they are having trouble understanding.

General counseling can be given to a group advising them on various fields they can enter after graduation, while counseling an individual may be more towards preparing them for an interview with a specific employer.

Academic counseling has been very successful for many colleges. It has led to better student satisfaction and overall higher employment rates for graduates. Colleges are also able to retain students that they may have normally lost due to frustration in navigating the difficulty of university life.

Regardless if someone is just entering college or getting ready to graduate, academic counseling is something that can be used as a support system for students needing assistance.

What Does an Academic Counselor Do?

Academic counselor work closely with school/college students to assist them in achieving their educational and career goals. Many students need help in determining what these goals will be, so an academic counselor’s job would be to provide them the information they need to steer them in the correct path.

Choosing a major is a notoriously arduous process for many students, so an academic counselor will have the opportunity to put them at ease while giving them the aid they need in making this important life decision.

In addition to career assistance, academic counselors are also required to help students choose the courses they need to complete their graduation requirements. They will also track the progress of their students to ensure that they are on the right path to their goals, and to assist them with any road bumps they might meet on their path to a degree.

Finally, an academic counselor will have to help students develop the social and academic skills they will need to successfully complete college and embark on the career of their choice.

Why Academic Counselors are Important?

Academic counselors are important for the success of high school and college students, as they guide students through their academic program, as well as providing direction for the student’s future college selection or career path.

Without guidance from an academic counselor, the student would have to conduct their own research into how their area of study can be applied to a career, and what the requirements are for entrance into that career. The student may not have the context for this information, or know where to begin looking. An academic counselor will have the experience and knowledge of the field to provide students with direction.

College students embarking on a career path will need a guide. The academic counselor who is current with state or federal regulations regarding licensure and credentialing within their field will be an invaluable aid to a student.

Academic counselors who are, or have been involved in their field in addition to their academic career can give students inside information about the job; the type of real-world knowledge needed to operate successfully, which you will probably not learn in a textbook. They may have connections in the field to assist with internships, or job placement.

A trusting professional relationship with an academic counselor is important to assist students in areas pertinent to their school performance.

Academic counselors can act as a liaison between student and teaching faculty to mediate disputes which could impact the student’s academic performance. They can provide a sympathetic ear to students struggling with personal issues, and arrange appropriate referrals for counseling.

What Do You Need to Become an Academic Counselor?


As you might have guessed, in order to work in higher education, you must be well-educated. This means that you must have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in education or a related field, and then you must obtain a master’s degree in counseling.

Depending on the state you live in, you may need to be licensed before you can work in academic settings.  However, if you would choose to branch out from an academic setting and begin your own private practice, you would definitely need to be licensed.  Check with your state Department of Education for more information.

Work Experience

Many schools and colleges require a few years of experience in the education field before obtaining a job as an academic counselor, but again, this depends on the institution.

If you’re truly interested, it wouldn’t hurt to look for an internship or job in a college or university setting as you work to complete your degree. Substitute teaching can also help you get your foot in the door, and many universities will allow you to do if you have a bachelor’s degree.

Personal Skills and Qualities

To work effectively with students, you will obviously need good communication skills. Not only will you be researching information with students, but you will also be required to help them develop the interpersonal skills they will need to succeed in the work force.

You will be dealing with students of various ages and backgrounds, from all walks of life, and of various ethnicities and religions. Tolerance is the name of the the game for anyone who wishes to succeed as an academic advisor.

If you’re a person who has a short fuse and gets frustrated easily with people, this is not the profession for you. Good listening skills are also very important for anyone who wishes to be a good counselor, as it’s important to truly understand where a student is coming from and catch on the subtle hints and clues that will give you a better understanding of him or her. Professionalism, as in any career, is always a must.

Where Does an Academic Counselor Work?

An academic counselor generally works in the following environments:

  • Elementary and secondary schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Professional schools
  • Healthcare and social assistance
  • Government agencies

What is the Salary of an Academic Counselor?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annuals wage for an academic counselor is employed in the education setting is $64,200, as of May 2023.

Most professionals are employed in private or public university settings, but they can also branch out and work in government career centers or in private practice.

What is the Career Outlook for Academic Counselors?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that demand for individuals in this profession is expected to grow by 5 percent between 2022 and 2032, and it’s growth is considered to be average.

As more and more people return to school later in life and career switching becomes more common, academic advisors will continue to be a growing and thriving profession.

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Copyright © 2024 All Rights Reserved. Program outcomes can vary according to each institution's curriculum and job opportunities are not guaranteed. This site is for informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional help.