Q: I am turning 40 in a couple of months and I have always had the desire to become a guidance counselor. I have a bachelor’s in deviant behavior and social control and an A.A.S in human services. I am presently working as a calculation clerk, but it is not in my field of study. I am very discouraged and do not know what to do. Can you give me advice on where I should start, how I can network, or where I can find a mentor ?
— Anonymous Via the Internet
A: There’s no need to be concerned about your age. The educational challenges in this country are creating a near desperate need for professionals who are willing to roll up their sleeves in school — particularly in the public school sector. Many displaced workers look to education as a respite. Careers in education, however, are no walk in the park, although those who remain in the profession say that it can be very rewarding. Guidance counselors in elementary grades primarily work in social and emotional areas, whereas counseling in middle and high school shifts to academics and career considerations. Depending on the sector, district, and location, expect a salary range as broad as $21,000 to $73,000. Know that you will have to go back to school for an education counseling degree that is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Programs. Check the regulatory practices in your town, as they differ from state to state. A strong networking organization is the American School Counselor Association (www.schoolcounselor.org).