Christian Counselor: Salary and Career Facts
Read how Christian counselors help people address their problems through guidance based on both Christian principles and psychology. Learn what training, licensing and certification you need to become a Christian counselor and what salary you might earn.
What Is a Christian Counselor?
Christian counselors may work with individuals, couples or families to help them discuss relationship issues or deal with hard situations and circumstances. Christian counselors may point their clients to the Bible and other Christian teachings to help them find solutions to their issues. These professionals also help their clients develop ways to cope with similar situations or manage emotions and conditions like depression. Christian counselors can also point their clients to other community resources, such as support groups and treatment facilities. The following chart gives an overview of what may be expected for a career as a Christian counselor.
|Degree Required||Master's, with certification|
|Education Field of Study||Psychology, Christian counseling|
|Training Required||Training and experience hours for certification, Christian background and best practices|
|Licensure Required||State counseling certification, National board certification, Christian-specific certification|
|Average Salary (2018)||$47,920 (for all mental health counselors); $54,150 (for all marriage and family therapists); $53,290 (for all clergy)*|
Source: *The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
What Do Christian Counselors Do?
Christian counselors provide counseling services, rehabilitation support and advice from a spiritual perspective. In this career, you might help clients suffering from mental health issues, addictions, disabilities or trauma. Your clients may include children, adolescents, adults and families.
If you specialize in mental health counseling, you would use therapeutic techniques and Christian principles to treat people suffering from substance abuse problems, stress, anxiety or depression. In marriage and family counseling, you would use family systems techniques and theories to open lines of communication within families.
What Training Do I Need?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most licensed counselors hold a master's degree (www.bls.gov). You could begin by pursuing a bachelor's degree in Christian counseling. In this kind of program, you learn how to interview clients, devise counseling strategies and fuse biblical teachings with psychological theories. Your courses might include the Old and New Testaments, counseling ethics, marriage and family counseling, addiction counseling and child psychology.
You could then pursue a master's degree in Christian counseling. If you want to qualify for certification or licensure, you might consider master's programs that offer specializations in marriage and family therapy or mental health counseling. This degree could lead to work in churches and religious institutions or Christian counseling services in a private practice.
What Is Certification and Licensing Like?
Licensing requirements for counselors are determined by states. For example, the New York State Education Department notes that mental health counselors must have at least a master's degree and 3,000 hours of counseling experience (www.op.nysed.gov). In most states, marriage and family therapists must also meet those requirements, according to the BLS. Additionally, a master's degree and work experience would qualify you for the National Certified Counselor credential from the National Board for Certified Counselors. You might also consider the Board Certified Christian Counselor and Board Certified Professional Christian Counselor credentials offered by the Board of Christian Professional and Pastoral Counselors.
How Much Could I Earn?
The BLS does not offer salary information specifically for Christian counselors, but salary statistics for marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors and the clergy are available. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the average annual salary figures for all mental health counselors in 2018 at $47,920. Marriage and family therapists on average earned higher salaries, at $54,150. Members of the clergy earned an average of $53,290 that same year.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
There are a few other kinds of counseling positions that require a master's degree, including rehabilitation, school and career counselors. Rehabilitation counselors assist people who have various kinds of disabilities. They work with their patients to enable them to work or live independently. School counselors can work in elementary, middle and high schools. They work with students on various organizational, social and study skills that they need to be successful in school. Career counselors may work in high schools, universities or other education centers. They help students identify their interests and prepare for a particular career.