Top Careers in Counseling

Counseling is a diverse field that contains many different specialties. Depending on the popularity of the type of counseling and the type of crowd that is drawn, earnings can be higher or lower than the national average.

Below you will find some of the top counseling careers, as well as pertinent information on what their job responsibilities are on a day-to-day basis, what degree is the minimum requirement, and a quick sentence on "who the counseling career is for" to help you figure out which may be best for you.

Top Counseling Careers

Typical Degree Requirements for Working Counselors

Counselors working in the field have one thing in common – an accredited degree. Accreditation is vital to the relevance of a degree program.

All states within the country require that graduates hold an accredited degree prior to becoming licensed as a counselor in any specialty. Although some assistant positions and entry-level positions require a minimum of an associate’s degree, individuals must have a higher degree paired with a license prior to counseling patients directly.

The minimum degree requirement for licensed counselors is a Master’s degree in Counseling. Since this is the minimum requirement, most counselors in the field are holding this degree. With the increase in the amount of counselors graduating with master’s level degrees, some counselors have moved forward and completed a Doctorate degree in Counseling.

Most states require that individuals working in a private practice hold a doctorate degree and license prior to operating a business. The licensure requirements are the same for this higher degree program, but the ability to earn and the potential for higher tier positions are increased at this level, which draws more learners to this path. When considering specialty counseling degrees, students should research their state’s individual requirements for that type of degree program.

Licensing Requirements

Since counseling requires one-on-one contact with individuals needs guidance, state guidelines regarding licensure are strict in most states. Having a license not only communicates experience and trustworthiness to clients, but it also ensures that individuals have met all of the necessary requirements for practice within their state.

Individuals that are interested in becoming licensed counselors should be prepared to earn a Master’s degree in Counseling at a minimum. There are many different broad and specialty degree programs in counseling available to upcoming professionals, so individuals should research the requirements of each degree program prior to entry.

State Licensure

Most states also require that graduates document 1-2 years of supervised work experience under the supervision of a licensed counselor. This experience requirement allows graduates to take part in standard counseling activities while been supervised by an experienced counselor.

This work is documented and sent to the state as hours credited to the experience requirement. Depending on the state, registration is required, along with the submission of quarterly reports signed by a supervising counselor.

Once these requirements have been completed, each state requires that candidates for licensure successfully pass a state board exam in counseling. Licensed counselors are free to work in the field while maintaining licensing-renewal dates and fees required by their respective states.

Salary and Earning Potential

As a counselor working in the United States, earnings can vary based on setting and education.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Clinical, Counseling, and School Counselors can earn $76,040 per year on average. Those that choose Mental Health, Marriage, or Family Counseling can expect to earn around $42,250 per year on average (BLS, 2015).

The diverse nature of counseling careers allows for a variability in earnings based on time spent working in the field and level of education.

Specialty fields in counseling vary in earnings due to the demand of services and the population diversity within different areas of the United States. Counselors that work in an area that has a high demand for their services will earn more than counselors in an area of low significance.

Earnings can also be affected by employment path, with workers in government agencies earning less than counselors in clinical settings or private practice. Graduates that have obtained higher level degrees tend to earn more on average than those at the minimum master’s degree level.