The Growing Need for Counselors
If you're thinking of pursing a career in counseling or psychology, you could be in luck. These fields offer many rewarding career paths, all of which are anticipated to have faster than average growth in the next few years. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor expects job openings to exceed the number of graduates from counseling programs.
Since there will soon be more openings than qualified counselors or psychologists to fill them, there may be a need for students to begin preparing to pursue a career in counseling and psychology.
Psychologists generally need a master's or doctoral degree and a license to practice. Most counselors need a master's degree and a license. However, some states will provide a license to individuals who earned a bachelor's degree that included some counseling coursework, according to the U.S Department of Labor.
Criteria for licensure can vary greatly. Research your state and specialty requirements to determine the qualifications you need in order to pursue your ideal career.
Prospective counselors need to be able to inspire trust and confidence in people, have a highly developed sense of ethics, and have a strong desire to help others.
If this sounds like you, there are a wide variety of specialties within the fields of psychology and counseling.
Here's a quick overview of the major specialties:
School counselors often work with students from elementary school to high school and beyond, helping promote their academic, personal, social, and career development. From helping students master job-hunting techniques to identifying cases of potential domestic abuse, counselors can make a huge impact in the lives of young people.
average earnings for school counselors range from $38,740-$65,360 annually.*
Also known as career or employment counselors, vocational counselors help people identify potential careers that might be suited to their individual talents, work history, and personality traits. Vocational counselors help individuals locate and apply for jobs, but they may also be there to offer support for those who have suffered a job-loss or struggle with career stress.
The median annual wages of education, vocational, and school counselors can range from $38,740-$65,360.*
For those living with disabilities, rehabilitation counselors can recognize and reduce barriers to education and employment, be they environmental or attitude-based. Taught to help people deal with the personal, social, and work-related effects of disabilities, some rehabilitation counselors also take on an active advocacy role and can make a difference for both individuals and communities.
The middle 50 percent of rehabilitation counselors had an average earnings of $24,110-$41,240.*
Mental Health Counselors
Depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, grief - all of these can severely impact the quality of an individual's life. Mental health counselors are trained to treat mental and emotional disorders, and often work closely with a team of mental health specialists (including psychiatrists, clinical social workers, and school counselors) to address a variety of issues and promote emotional and mental health.
Annual wages for the middle 50 percent of mental health counselors ranged from $28,930-$48,580 in May 2008.
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors
Counselors specializing in substance abuse and behavioral disorders work with individuals to help identify behaviors linked to the addiction, and then develop coping techniques. Substance abuse counselors also work with families affected by the addictions of their loved ones. These types of counselors may be called upon to provide crisis counseling, group counseling, and/or counseling on a daily or weekly basis.
The pay for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors averages at $29,410-$47,290 annually.*
Marriage and Family Therapists
Marriage and family therapists work with individuals or groups to promote communication and understanding and to help prevent crises within relationships. This psychology/counseling specialty differs slightly from the others in that marriage and family therapists focus more on the interactions within their clients' existing environment than on treating internal psychological issues.
The median annual salaries of marriage and family therapists are around $44,590.*
*All salary data is from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.