Learn More About the Highest Paid Counseling Jobs

Are you the go-to person in your family or group of friends whenever someone has a problem? Are you a natural empath, compelled to provide a sympathetic ear or help someone improve their situation? Can you support people through their worst days and celebrate their triumphs? If so, you may be suited for a career in counseling.

We’ve compiled a list of the highest paid counseling jobs below, along with key information about each role.

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How Much Do Counselors Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for counselors of all types was about $45,200. School counselors are the highest paid counseling jobs on our list, with a 2021 median salary of about $63,500.

 

Career Counselors

2021 Median Salary: About $40,000

Career counselors work one-on-one with clients in a professional setting. They offer guidance to adults seeking to start a new career or make a change. This could be a voluntary change by the client or the result of a layoff. In either case, career counselors are frequently required to assess clients’ skills to match them up with local employers. You may also be required to help clients with resumes and teach them how to apply for jobs on their own. You’ll need to have a master’s degree for this role - fortunately, there are many great programs available.

 

Marriage and Family Counselors

2021 Median Salary: About $49,900

This is another of the highest paid counseling jobs on our list, and for good reason. Whether working with individuals, couples, or families, counselors in this field are responsible for treating clients’ relationships, as opposed to the individuals themselves. Marriage and family counselors typically apply cognitive behavioral therapy to help replace negative behaviors with positive ones. They also need to be able to understand unique roles within clients' relationship structures and how those roles can affect mental well-being.

In addition to helping families work through difficult, emotionally-fraught situations, marriage and family counselors typically run their own private practice. They're responsible for attracting clients through marketing and even dealing with insurance companies. You’ll need a postgraduate degree in marriage and family therapy for this role. In addition, many states require licensure, so make sure to check guidelines for your area.

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Rehabilitation Counselors

2021 Median Salary: About $38,600

People in this field help clients with various disabilities to live as independently as possible. Some clients have physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities that have been present their entire lives, while others are facing these challenges for the first time. This latter group can include veterans coping with post-traumatic stress disorder or combat injuries as well as elderly people who have to adapt to the effects of age on their minds and bodies.

The majority of rehabilitation counselors work in community and vocational services, though many also work at residential care facilities or are employed by the government. You'll need a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling to enter this field, and a special certification or license for some roles.

 

School Counselors

2021 Median Salary: About $63,500

One of the highest paid counseling jobs on this list, school counselors work directly with students to help put them on the path to success. Sometimes that path is academic, such as choosing courses that align with career aspirations or helping get college applications in order. Other times, it may involve helping students work through personal issues or challenges preventing them from reaching their full potential. School counselors may work on a one-to-one basis or as part of a team focused on helping a student succeed. You’ll need a school counseling degree for this role, which is offered as a master’s degree or higher.

 

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

2021 Median Salary: About $48,500

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors work with a broad range of clients in a variety of settings and specializations. The majority of people in this often stressful but rewarding field work in outpatient mental health centers, but many also work in private practices or hospitals and residential facilities. Some work in prisons or juvenile detention facilities.

The highest paid counseling jobs in this line of work require a postsecondary degree in counseling. In many cases, you’ll also need either a specialization or a master’s degree in the specific field you’d like to pursue. Once you have your diploma, expect to complete a lengthy supervised work experience and pass a licensure examination before starting your career.

 

Substance Abuse / Behavioral Disorder Counselor

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors are also known as addiction counselors. They work with clients one-on-one or in groups to treat problems like eating disorders, alcoholism, drug addiction, and other issues. Some clients seek treatment voluntarily, while others come after intervention from family and friends. In some cases, treatment may be court-ordered. Familiarity with 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous is helpful, but the ultimate goal of treatment is to help clients develop positive coping mechanisms for life’s challenges in order to establish a pathway to recovery.

 

Mental Health Counselor

Mental health counselors typically work in noncrisis situations, although clients’ problems are still serious. Many patients struggle with depression, stress, anxiety, and other emotional health and relationship issues. Some mental health counselors choose to specialize in a certain area: pediatric counselors specialize in treating young children, while grief counselors use specialized techniques to provide services to patients who are dealing with a loss. This can certainly be caused by the death of a loved one, but in other cases could be triggered by a lost job, a lost pet, or even changes in the home.

 

Ready for the Next Step?

Whether helping a client manage an addiction, working with a couple to solve marital challenges, or charting a fulfilling educational course for a student, counselors make a difference in the lives of others every day. Take the next step today and learn about online counseling degrees or master’s programs for counseling.

Counseling Career Guide

Still Looking for a Counseling Degree?

Here are some of the most popular online counseling programs. On each page you will find a detailed write-up of the program, specific courses, and schools that offer that program that are currently accepting applicants.