How to Become a Counselor
Each online certificate program has its own entry requirements. For most programs, however, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in a relevant field.
Counseling certificate programs are typically used to help students achieve the minimum graduate degree credit requirements. Many states require at least 60 credits at the graduate level, which may require coursework outside of your master’s degree. An accredited counseling certificate program can help you meet this minimum requirement and broaden your knowledge base.
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What Is an Online Counseling Certification Program?
You can continue your education and prepare for any relevant counseling certification processes by earning a counseling certificate. These online programs are designed for students who have already earned a degree in the field, so they don’t focus on entry-level skills or foundational theories. Instead, they offer fast-paced, short-term opportunities to qualify for a license in a new state or area of counseling.
Coursework in an Online Counseling Certificate Program
Most courses focus exclusively on the certificate program specialization. When you take a marriage and family therapy certificate, for example, you’ll dive into courses related to couples therapy, child development, systems theories and family therapy.
This means that every certificate program specialization offers a distinct set of classes. Some coursework may overlap, but the goal is to build on existing knowledge or add expertise in a new area of counseling.
Available Counseling Certificate Specializations
Explore the various specializations available to find the right one for your career path. Choose a specialization in your current career path for more advanced training. If you wish to practice counseling in a specialization you didn’t study at the graduate level, then a certificate program may be the right option to receive dual licensing.
Here are the most common counseling certificate specializations:
- Mental health counseling
- School counseling
- Marriage and family therapy
- Substance abuse counseling
- Benefits of Online Counselor Training
An online certificate program is a highly flexible alternative to studying in person. If you’re already working as a counselor or wish to pursue a highly rated certificate program without relocating, your options may be limited by your current location.
Instead, online training opens up a whole world of highly rated institutions and diverse certificate specializations. Take courses at your convenience and receive the necessary graduate credits to prepare to practice in your state.
How Long Does It Take To Earn a Certificate in Mental Health Counseling?
A certificate in counseling can typically be earned in about one to three years. Full-time students of select programs can receive a certificate in as little as three months.
These programs may require you to complete a master’s degree before you’re accepted. A master’s in psychology or related field takes between two and three years to complete. A bachelor’s degree, which is required before starting a master’s program, typically takes about four years to complete.
How To Become a Certified Counselor
Counseling is a very rewarding career path, but it requires several steps before you can legally practice. The specifics of each step vary by state, but most states require you to complete the following steps:
- Earn a master’s degree
- Complete internship and practicum hours
- Earn the relevant license
You have some flexibility in the master’s degree you earn, but your degree may not offer the number of graduate credits or practicum hours necessary to earn your license. A counseling certificate program can come alongside your master’s degree and internship experience to help you fulfill the licensing requirements in your state.
Counseling Career Options and Outlook
A counseling certificate may be the final step you need to change careers or improve your abilities in your current role. There are many different tasks performed by counselors in many settings, but these are some of the most common counselor occupations:
- Substance abuse counselor
- Mental health counselor
- School counselor
- Marriage and family therapist
- Rehabilitation counselor
Counselor Salary Expectations
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS, substance abuse and mental health counselors earned a median salary of approximately $47,700 in 2020. This category of counselors is expected to grow by 23 percent between 2020 and 2030, which is much faster than the average job growth percentage.
School and career counselors earned a median 2020 pay of around $58,100 with estimated job growth of 11 percent. BLS also found that marriage and family therapists earned median pay of about $51,300 in 2020 with a 16-percent job growth projection between 2020 and 2030.
Skills to Help You Succeed in an Online Counseling Program
The most important skills you receive from an online counseling certification program are related to the specialization you wish to become licensed in. You will, however, practice these general counseling skills when you take any highly rated certificate program:
- Active listening
- Cultural awareness and sensitivity
Find an Online Counseling Certificate Program Today
Whether you’ve just earned a master’s in psychology or you’re looking to add a specialization to your counseling abilities, explore leading online programs today. Find an online counseling certificate program that aligns with your career goals with the help of Counseling Degrees Online.