Guidance counsellor, second level

Last updated: 25 Jan 2023, 13:37

Advises students and young people so that they can make informed choices about their future in relation to employment, education and training.

Blurred image of a person in an office setting with the text "Guidance counsellor (second level)" overlayed.

Job description

Guidance counsellors advise students and young people so that they can make informed choices about their future in relation to employment, education and training. Responsibilities include assessing ability and potential in students, providing one-to-one counselling, and liaising with other professionals in this area.

Guidance and counselling in Ireland is made up of three separate yet interlinked areas. These are:

  • Personal and Social Guidance and Counselling
  • Educational Guidance and Counselling
  • Vocational Guidance and Counselling.

Guidance counsellors working in second level are normally required to hold recognised teaching qualifications.

Work activities

  • Providing one-to-one guidance to motivate students to engage in and take an active role in their personal, educational and career development.
  • Identifying individual needs using a variety of techniques including guidance interviews, psychometric assessment, computer-aided guidance packages and other evaluative instruments.
  • Using information technology for a wide range of administrative and informational tasks.
  • Establishing links with employers, relevant agencies and institutions to keep up to date with labour market information, legislation, professional and academic developments.
  • Participating in the review and development of school guidance plans to ensure continued relevance to the ever-changing needs of the students.
  • Participating in staff meetings, parents’ evenings and extra-curricular activities.
  • Writing reports for pupils, parents and other educational professionals.

Work conditions

Travel: not a major feature of the job apart from attending college open days and other informational events.
Working hours: normal school hours and holidays, though guidance counsellors often work additional hours and often make themselves available in August when Leaving Certificate results are published and CAO offers are made.
Location: most opportunities exist in towns or cities throughout the country.
Opportunities for self-employment: possible to work in private practice.

Typical employers

  • Secondary schools
  • Vocational schools/community colleges
  • Community/comprehensive schools.

Career development

Promotion to positions such as special duties teachers and assistant principals normally can be achieved at an early stage though a current moratorium on promotion exists.


An incremental salary scale operates with additional allowances payable depending on qualifications and additional responsibilities.

Republic of Ireland: A second level teacher with an honours degree and a PGDE can expect to earn around €39,000.
There is currently no additional allowance paid for a qualification in Guidance and Counselling.

Northern Ireland: The starting salary for second level teachers is in excess of £21,000.

Allowances for additional qualifications also apply.

Entry requirements

To register with the Teaching Council as a second level Guidance Counsellor, you must first be eligible for registration as a Second Level Teacher. In addition you must hold a recognised qualification in Guidance and Counselling.

Specific degree subjects required

Detailed information on the suitability of current and future qualifications is available from the Teaching Council . Anyone considering a career in Education is strongly advised to contact the Teaching Council to establish if their chosen course is recognised for registration purposes.

Other relevant degree subjects


Postgraduate study

A postgraduate qualification in guidance is essential.


Further training is provided through in-service courses and there is a requirement to undergo ongoing in-service training in order to maintain membership of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors.

Tips for applications

Job applications need to be really well prepared and error free. Experience of working with teenagers and involvement in sports and extracurricular activities are valued by employers.

Skills and qualities

  • Highly conscientious and committed to the highest standards of professional service.
    Excellent communication and organisational skills.
  • Excellent research skills.
  • Excellent IT skills.
  • Excellent capacity to absorb vast amounts of information.
  • Caring and motivated by the best interests of the students.
  • Willing to engage in ongoing professional development.
  • Ability to relate well to different groups of students of different ages and ability levels.
  • Self-belief and the ability to maintain discipline.
  • Team-player who can collaborate with colleagues.

Labour market information

A significant rise in the number of students in second-level schools over the coming years is predicted which should lead to an increase in posts provided no further cuts in the counsellor/pupil ratio are made.

gradireland editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the gradireland content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

People reading this also searched for roles in these areas:

undefined background image

We've got you

Get the latest jobs, internships, careers advice, courses and graduate events based on what's important to you. Start connecting directly with top employers today.