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How do I Become an Academic Advisor?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Choosing to become an academic advisor is a career option that takes some degree of preparation. Since advisors may function as counselors in junior high and senior high schools as well as in colleges and universities, there are several methods to go about preparing for different advising jobs.

For the most part, an individual who wishes to become an academic advisor in a junior or senior high school will need to obtain a degree in school counseling. The degree must usually be a four-year degree directly related to counseling in schools. In addition, some school systems may require that any potential advisors in the employ of the system also have an advanced degree, perhaps even a masters or doctorate. However, many smaller systems will require a Bachelor degree related to counseling and perhaps at least some experience working within a school system.

For someone who wishes to work as an academic advisor at a college or university, the range of educational credentials and experience required is usually greater. It is not unusual for some type of doctoral degree to be among the basic qualifications before a candidate will be considered. Generally, the doctorate can be in any relevant field of counseling, although the requirements will vary from one university to another. In some locations, there is also the need to secure licensing from local jurisdictions before the candidate can be considered for a advising position.

Regarding both the school counselor and the college advisor, the ideal candidate must possess excellent communication skills. Not only must the advisor be able to articulate information clearly to students; he or she must also be able to discern the spoken and unspoken concerns of the student in relation to academic goals and how they impact aspirations for the future. This means that in order to become an academic advisor that is truly successful, the individual must be able to establish a degree of trust and rapport with the students who are counseled. For this reason, college and high school advisors are usually expected to have some experience and proficiency in interactive communications.

One of the best ways to determine how to become an academic advisor at a specific educational institution is to obtain information about the qualifications and general requirements associated with advising positions at that institution. This will make it easier to focus specifically on meeting the requirements of the organization and prepare for the job in a way that highlights the competence and the credentials of the candidate.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including Practical Adult Insights, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon250321 — On Feb 25, 2012

How likely is it for someone with a Bachelor's degree to get into academic advising (at a college)?

By subway11 — On May 13, 2011

@SurfNTurf -I just wanted to say that with respect to a guidance counselor position, these positions do require a Masters in guidance counseling because this position also requires the guidance counselor to counsel troubled students. I know that a college academic advisor does not need to counsel students on personal issues.

By surfNturf — On May 12, 2011

@Anon83802 - That is good to know. I think that becoming an academic advisor in a high school setting would be so rewarding because you help young students shape their future.

I know that there are many schools in which academic advising begins in middle school. At my children’s school for example, all of the students beginning in the sixth grade receive an academic advisor until they graduate from high school.

I think it is great that they start so early because it could help some students focus on potential career paths early on so that they take the right courses to qualify for the college programs that they are interested in. I know at this level the academic advisor positions are referred to as guidance counselors.

By anon83802 — On May 12, 2010

Actually, advising at most universities does not require a terminal degree or a degree in counseling. I have been an academic advisor for six years. Although I have a Master's degree, it is not in counseling; my Bachelor's degree is also not in the field.

Typically, universities require a minimum of a Bachelor's degree, but prefer a Master's degree in a related field. The most common degree I see amongst my colleagues is a Master's in Higher Education Administration. Most advising jobs require a Bachelor's degree, a minimum of two years of advising experience, solid communication skills and good references.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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