Counselors try to help people through listening, assessing the nature of problems and making suggestions that will help clients to improve their life conditions. Clearly there are many different types of issues that a person faces throughout their life and correspondingly there are many different types of counselors, e.g., school and educational counselors, mental health counselors, marriage and family counselors. A person who wants to go into counseling needs the ability to be a good listener, but must be able to inspire confidence and trust in clients.
A masters degree is the minimum level of education required for clinical practice in counseling. Doctoral degrees are recommended for counselors who want to advance or to be in private practice. This page provides details of counseling degrees and lists selected schools where you can take them. It deals mainly with online programs, but if you prefer studying a campus-based program, this web site also has a section on campus programs. If you are interested in this field of work, you might also like to check the counseling psychology page.
What do counseling degrees cover?
The courses that are often completed during the undergraduate portion of education include psychology, communications, human growth and development, education, gerontology, cultural diversity and ethics. In a counseling graduate program, students will typically complete up to sixty hours of graduate courses. Clinical experience is a required component of the degree program.
In order to be licensed as a clinical counselor, a masters in counseling is required. Certification is offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors and by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. Certification is voluntary, but expected of those who are in private practice.
Where do counselors work?
Counselors work in diverse physical settings. The typical work locations include hospitals and clinics such as substance abuse facilities, schools and rehabilitation centers. Often, counselors work with clients who have numerous issues. Counselors might have links with social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists, academic personnel and governmental agencies. An increasing number of counselors are opening private practices. Insurance companies are more likely to approve counseling in health care plans than previously, largely because of economic factors.
In addition to an MS counseling, there are several subcategories of counseling graduate programs, each appropriate for a different type of counselor. School, vocational and educational counselors help individuals and groups to achieve career goals. Educational counselors work with all grade levels, from elementary age to university students. They might do testing and assessment or advise on coursework design for special education needs. Employment and career counselors might work with students or with agencies of the government such as employment and rehabilitation departments.
Mental health counselors might work in private practice or with health facilities. Typical areas of treatment are depression, anxiety, stress, grief and similar issues. The counselors might help to set policy or may work closely with medical health professionals. Counselors can work with individuals or groups.
What are the career and salary prospects?
The number of positions is expected to increase faster than for all occupations. The growth in educational counseling jobs is projected at fourteen percent during the upcoming decade. Mental health counselors growth is projected even high at 24 percent. Rehabilitative counselor positions will grow by nineteen percent.
The wage range for educational, school and vocational counselors is the highest for subcategories. The wage range is from $29,360 and $82,330. The median annual wage is $51,050. Elementary and secondary school counselors earn the highest levels with this group of counselors.
Median annual wages for marriage and family therapists are at $44,590. A counseling degree at masters level benefits both those who work for an employer and those who are self employed. Those in private practice are likely to have the highest earnings, especially if the practice is well established or if the counselor is in a group practice.
List of schools and programs