If you’re passionate about helping children and adolescents, a career in a K-12 educational setting may be a good fit for you.

School counselors, psychologists, and social workers are among those in helping professions who assist young people with their social, emotional, behavioral, and academic challenges. Their overall goal is to help children become more resilient as they move into adulthood.

Here are some common roles and employment settings for K-12 behavioral health professionals:

School Counselors

What do they do: Counselors do more than just advise high schoolers on college selection. Through individual and group counseling, they help K-12 students address social, emotional, academic, and career development issues. They consult with parents, teachers, and school personnel to help students reach their full potential and eliminate barriers to academic and personal success.

Related job titles to explore*:

• Elementary, middle, or high school counselor

• Guidance counselor

• Student life counselor

• Academic advisor

• Career counselor

• College counselor

• Student intervention specialist

Related employment settings:

• Public schools

• Private schools

• Charter schools

Degree to explore:
Master of Science in School Counseling (CACREP-accredited)

School Psychologists

What do they do: Drawing on their expert training, school psychologists can have a positive impact through counseling and other appropriate social, emotional, or behavioral interventions. They may also work with staff on testing, program development, and research related to K-12 education.

Related job titles to explore*:

• School psychologist

• Diagnostician

• Program evaluator

• Researcher

• Consultant

Related workplaces

• Public schools

• Private schools

• College/university
• Private practice

Degree to explore:

Doctor of Psychology, School Psychology Specialization

School Social Workers

What do they do: School social workers work with students, families, and school personnel to help improve students’ psychological and social functions at school. They develop plans to help students create positive peer relationships, deal with stress and anxiety, and handle sensitive family situations. Social workers are also on the front lines sourcing basic needs for students like food, clothing, and housing.

Related job titles to explore*:

• Child, family, or school social worker

Related employment settings:

• School districts

• Government agencies

Degrees to explore:
Master of Social Work (CSWE-accredited)

Master of Social Work Advanced Standing (CSWE-accredited)

Child Development and Behavior Professionals

What do they do: Child development professionals assess and advise children’s developmental and behavioral needs. Through research and clinical practice, they also develop and influence aspects of education, human services, health care, and social services.

Related job titles to explore*:

• Applied behavior analysis instructor

• Behavior analyst

• Behavior specialist

• Child development specialist

• Early childhood education specialist

Related employment settings:

• Hospital/clinic

• Residential/out-patient program

• Child and family service agency

• Early childhood education program

• Private/public school

• Social service agency

Degree to explore:

Master of Science in Psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis Specialization

The Importance of Licensure

If you plan to work with children and teenagers in aK-12 environment, you may need licensure or certification. Students in clinical, behavioral health-focused graduate programs participate in face-to-face residencies and have supervised clinical field training in preparation for state licensure.

Licensure requirements can be complex and time consuming. They also vary depending on your location and chosen field. Capella University’s licensure team is up to date on the requirements in all 50 states to support all graduates through the license application process.

Find out more about helping profession opportunities in k-12 education—and the degrees you’ll need to shape your career.

*These are examples intended to serve as a general guide. Some positions may prefer or even require previous experience, licensure, certifications, and/or other designations along with a degree. Because many factors determine what position an individual may attain, Capella cannot guarantee that a graduate will secure any specific job title, a promotion, salary increase, or other career outcome. We encourage you to research requirements for your job target and career goals.