Community Counseling Careers: Salary and Career Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in community counseling. Read on to learn about career options, along with salary and job outlook information. Schools offering Medical Social Work degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Community Counselor?

A community counselor is a mental health professional who focuses on issues and programs at the community level. This degree can lead to a variety of careers, including mental health or rehabilitation counseling or community program leadership. In general, community counselors work with the public on a variety of issues, from adjusting to disabilities to dealing with mental health disorders. They might help clients access services such as doctors, therapists, or supportive technologies, as well as working with stakeholders to identify needed programs in the community. The table below outlines the general requirements for some career options.

Mental Health CounselorProgram Director Rehabilitation Counselor
Degree Required Master's degree Bachelor's degree Master's degree
Education Field of Study Psychology, social work, counseling, marriage and family therapy, mental health Social work, urban studies, public administration Counseling
Training Required Supervised work (2,000-4,000 hours) Work experience Supervised work (2,000-4,000 hours)
Licensure Required Required No licensing required Required
Job Growth (2014-2024) 19%* 10% (all social and community service managers)* 9%*
Median Salary (2015) $41,880* $63,530 (all social and community service managers)* $34,390*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Careers Are Available for Community Counselors?

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), there is a continued demand for counselors who specialize in working with community-based issues. In this type of position, you would provide counseling and other necessary services to community outreach programs, mediation centers, mental health clinics and other settings.

Other career paths in this field that may appeal to you include those of a program director or a program evaluator. These programs might focus on job development, anti-drug campaigns, workplace diversity or public health

What Activities Might I Perform?

Your specific activities would depend upon your position; however, counselors generally provide mental health services to individual community members and their families. According to the APA, you may work directly with residential neighborhoods, community organizations, school systems or government agencies to address preventative, emergency or on-going needs.

While working as a community counselor, you might help natural disaster victims, create neighborhood safety programs or assist health providers with improving patient care. You may also conduct policy research, address community planning issues, and advocate for other community-building activities.

Are There Specific Requirements I Need to Meet?

Community counselors, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), usually need to have a master's degree. The BLS does advise checking your state's requirements for licensing and certification, however.

Additional requirements listed by the BLS include supervised training programs, seminars, post-graduate coursework and other relevant experience. These requirements also vary by employer and from state-to-state.

Certification tends to be relevant to your job setting. Even though you may specialize in agency or community counseling, you could also develop additional skills and experience to work with the elderly or the unemployed. If you are interested in additional specialization as a rehabilitation counselor, for example, the BLS states you would need to be certified by The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification.

What Salary Could I Expect?

Your salary will be based on a variety of factors such as experience, occupational title and industry. According to the BLS, mental health counselors earned a median salary of $41,880 per year as of 2015. The median salary for all social and community service managers was $63,530, while rehabilitation counselors earned a median of $34,390 a year.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Those interested in a career in community counseling might want to look into some related careers. Occupational therapists are similar to rehabilitation counselors in that they help injured or disabled people develop the skills needed for everyday activities. Occupational therapists usually have a master's or doctoral degree in their field, along with professional licensure. School counselors work in schools from elementary to high school to help students develop the necessary social and academic skills to succeed. They also generally need to have a master's degree and licensure. Substance abuse counselors help those with alcohol or substance dependency issues to recover. They might find work with only a bachelor's degree, and licensure or certification may be required as well.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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