Educational counsellors (NOC 4033)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

Educational counsellors work for K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions, where they provide support and information to students. They offer academic guidance, career information or personal counsel – or a combination of all three – to help students succeed in their studies and beyond.

Common job titles
  • co-op placement officer - school
  • co-op program co-ordinator - school
  • co-ordinator, student employment services
  • counsellor, academic
  • counsellor, career / vocational
  • counsellor, college / university

Duties

Educational counsellors:

  • Advise students on course and program selection, timetables and scheduling
  • Help students adjust to school and build study skills
  • Develop and co-ordinate groups and workshops on topics such as note-taking, time management, exam anxiety and test preparation
  • Work with students to explore careers, prepare resumés, develop interview skills and build job-search strategies
  • Co-ordinate co-op programs, school-to-work transition programs, professional development sessions and student exchanges
  • Provide academic information to future students, their parents and their counsellors
  • Organize student orientation programs in colleges and universities
  • Arrange for employers to recruit co-op students and new graduates
  • Work with teachers, parents, faculty and other professionals such as psychologists, speech therapists and social workers to support students
  • Help students with personal matters such as substance use, depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and issues around gender, sexuality, self-esteem, family and relationships
  • Counsel students in crisis, including those dealing with abuse, suicidal feelings, or the death of a friend or family member
  • Administer and interpret standardized intelligence, personality, vocational, aptitude and interest tests
  • May teach regular classes, oversee peer counselling programs or supervise field experience for graduate students in counselling

In post-secondary settings, educational counselling is usually divided into separate roles: 

  • Academic advisors deal with course and program advising
  • Career educators help students with career exploration, resumés and interview skills
  • Personal counsellors address mental health and wellness

Work environment

Educational counsellors work in K-12 schools, post-secondary institutions, other educational settings and government agencies. They usually keep regular school or office hours.

They work closely with children, youth and young adults. Some spend time visiting schools to meet with prospective students, parents and other educational counsellors.

Educational counsellors may deal with complex and stressful situations. They work with vulnerable children and youth experiencing mental health problems and other issues. They are bound by a strict code of ethics and they must keep information confidential while making judgment calls on potential risks to their students or others.

Insights from industry

In the K-12 school system, mental health and wellness are a focus for all educational counsellors. Since they are often a student’s first experience with personal counselling, these educational counsellors play an important role in shaping a young person’s attitude and openness in seeking mental health support in adulthood.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

In general, elementary school counsellors provide more social and personal counselling, while high school counsellors provide more career and academic counselling.

Educational counsellors in colleges, universities and other post-secondary settings tend to specialize. They may focus on academic counselling, personal counselling or career counselling.

Additional resources