Counseling Majors: Salary and Career Facts

With a major in counseling, opportunities for counseling careers in drug rehab, vocational counseling or social work will be available to you. Keep reading to discover details about education programs, career info and potential salary. Schools offering Mental Health Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does an Addictions Counselor Do?

As an addictions counselor, you'll be able to find work in community organizations, places of worship, healthcare facilities, correctional centers and other settings. Your work may be performed in group or individual settings. You'll need to have strong communications skills along with a openness to work with people of various cultural and social backgrounds. This profession is also heavily regulated in public environments, so you'll need to follow state-established guidelines and procedures when administering the counseling services.

Depending on the severity of a group's or an individual's addictions, you may see your clients on a weekly or a daily basis. Though you'll use common counseling techniques, such as role-play and interviewing, you'll customize your approach to suit the needs of each group or individual. You may also counsel people with non-substance-related issues, such as gambling addiction.

Find out more about this field through the table below.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree required for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors; master's degree required for rehabilitation counselors
Education Field of Study Substance abuse counseling, Rehabilitation counseling
Key Skills Interpersonal, listening, compassion, problem-solving
Licensure/Certification Most states require licensure and/or certification
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 22% for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors; 9% for rehabilitation counselors
Median Salary (2015)* $39,980 for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors; $34,390 for rehabilitation counselors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Educational Programs Are Available in Counseling?

Most careers in counseling require graduate-level education. Additionally, undergraduate degrees in counseling are a rare find, though some colleges offer addictions counseling degrees at the bachelor's degree level. Some of the topics you may explore through an addictions counseling program include assessment, consulting, crisis intervention, research methodology, group counseling and note taking. You will learn to understand the emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of addiction and how to use them in counseling sessions.

Standards for addictions counseling licensure are set by individual states, and many states require candidates to hold bachelor's degrees in addictions studies or addictions counseling before applying. In addition, a state may have additional requirements for work or internship experience in counseling settings, which can include a minimum number of clock hours of supervised counseling practice. You'll get your license once you meet all state requirements and pass an exam.

What Other Options Are There?

If a degree in addictions counseling doesn't interest you, another thing to consider would be an undergraduate degree program in social work. The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree is commonly pursued by individuals looking to enter the field. This type of program qualifies you mainly for jobs in public and government agencies, though you can also pursue non-clinical positions in hospitals and other healthcare centers.

Social work involves one-on-one counseling of individuals who seek assistance dealing with day-to-day challenges. You'll help people deal with a variety of problems, including those involving interpersonal relationships, work-related difficulties or traumatic experiences.

How Much Can I Earn?

Licensed addictions counselors earned between $30,184 and $57,066 as of October 2016, reports Payscale.com. Those who worked as addiction counselors in clinics or elsewhere make a median salary of $39,322, according to the same data.

Payscale.com's October 2016 data also points to earnings of between $25,585 and $53,642 for holders of a BSW degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also mentions that salary for this profession can vary based on locale, with the highest reported salaries going to workers in New Hampshire, New Mexico and North Dakota.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Teaching is a natural offshoot to counseling and requires a bachelor's degree to start. Social and community managers or mental health counselors need bachelor's degrees or master's degrees, respectively. A master's degree is needed to become a marriage and family therapist. All of these professions require special people who can work closely with others, keep good notes, write reports and make presentations when necessary. They must also observe people's behaviors and spot imbalances in students and clients who may need special counseling.

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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