Most school counseling jobs require a master's degree, but a bachelor's degree and certification are sufficient for elementary and secondary school teaching in many states. At the post-secondary or college level, however, teachers typically need a master's degree or doctorate, depending on the type of institution. Degrees matter because counselors typically earn more than teachers in elementary and secondary schools. However, in institutions of higher learning, teachers earn more.
Elementary and Secondary Schools
Counselors in elementary and secondary schools earned an average annual income of $62,970 in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For school teachers, the BLS breaks down salaries by educational level, reporting that elementary school teachers averaged $56,130 annually in 2012, while middle school teachers averaged $56,280. High school teachers were higher-paid, averaging $57,770 per year, excluding special education or career and technical education teachers.
In 2012, school counselors had average annual pay of $56,730 in junior colleges, less than the typical teacher in these institutions, according to the BLS. For post-secondary teachers, pay varies both according to the type of institution and also with the subject matter. For example, English language and literature teachers averaged $67,620 per year in two-year colleges, while their colleagues teaching business averaged $72,130 annually. Professors of engineering in two-year colleges had even higher pay, an annual average of $81,010.
In technical and trade schools, school counselors had average pay of $49,990 per year in 2012, reports the BLS. Similar to two-year colleges, technical school teachers typically receive higher pay than the school counselors. For example, English language and lit teachers received an average of $50,350 annually in technical schools, while business teachers averaged $59,070 in yearly pay. Engineering teachers in these institutions averaged $52,730.
Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools
In colleges, universities and professional schools, where professors normally have a doctorate, they also receive higher pay on average than counselors, and the gap is sometimes large. The average 2012 pay for counselors in these institutions was $49,110 annually, according to the BLS. English teachers averaged $68,670 per year in 2012, while business teachers averaged $91,920 annually. Engineering professors, however, earned average pay of $102,930 per year, more than double the average salary of counselors.
The number of jobs for school counselors in elementary and secondary schools will grow 8 percent between 2010 and 2020, predicts the BLS, compared to 14 percent on average for all jobs. Because of growth in college attendance, counseling jobs in colleges, universities and professional schools are expected to increase 34 percent during the same decade. Jobs for teachers will increase 17 percent in elementary and post-secondary schools over the decade, but only 7 percent in high schools, which will experience slower student population growth.