Counseling Psychology Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for counseling psychologists. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Addictions & Social Work degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Counseling Psychologist Do?

Counseling psychologists help clients work through their personal problems relating to school, work, relationships and more. Their responsibility is to provide guidance and advice to the client, helping them overcome obstacles and realize their potentials. A counseling psychologist not only talks with their patients, but gathers various information to evaluate them. They need to understand their client's thoughts, goals, actions, and feelings to give them the best possible treatment.

The following chart gives you an overview about becoming a counseling psychologist.

Degree Required Doctoral degree
Training Required 1-year internship is generally required
Education Field of Study Psychology
Licensure and/or Certification Most states require practicing psychologists to be licensed; certification in 15 specialty areas is available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 20% for all clinical, counseling and school psychologists*
Median Annual Salary (2015) $70,580 for all clinical, counseling and school psychologists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is Counseling Psychology?

Counseling psychology professionals help clients tackle everyday issues with relationships, careers, health and in other areas. In this career, you can help your patients improve their quality of life, relieve anxieties and confront personal problems. Since counseling psychologists are skilled in a wide range of therapies, you could provide counseling to both psychologically normal patients and those with disorders.

As a counseling psychologist, you might find positions in university counseling centers, private and group practices, rehabilitation centers and crisis counseling centers. You might also work with schools, private organizations or government agencies. You could also focus on psychological research or work in academics.

What Should I Study?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you will need to complete a doctoral degree program to become a counseling psychologist. Your first few years of study may involve lecture coursework, clinical practice and independent research, while the last year generally includes a pre-doctoral internship.

Your program may cover the legal and ethical standards of practice, foundations of psychology, basic researching skills, counseling in multi-cultural settings and applying your skills in practice. You may conduct research to write a dissertation in a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program, while a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) program may require practical work and tests instead. You can also find master's degree programs in counseling psychology, which can take 2-3 years to complete, and prepare you to work under a supervising psychologist with a doctoral degree.

How Can I Become Licensed or Certified?

Licensure for counseling psychologists is regulated on the state level. Requirements vary, but generally include a doctorate, approved internship and 1-2 years of experience practicing counseling psychology. You will also need to pass an examination and some states require that you take continuing education credits. Although certification is voluntary, you might consider becoming certified by the American Board of Counseling Psychology to show clients that you have met professional standards.

How Much Can I Earn?

The BLS reported that clinical, counseling and school psychologists earned a median salary of $70,580 in 2015. In the same year, the BLS noted that those in the Child Day Care Services industry had the highest paying salary, which was $106,510.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Those considering a career in counseling psychology may also be interested in mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, substance abuse and behavior counseling, or social work. Each involve relatively similar job duties, though a different client base. Substance abuse and behavioral counselors are more focused on patient recovery, typically work in treatment centers and only need a bachelor's degree. Social workers tend to work more in clinical settings and require a bachelor's degree in social work for entry-level access. Mental health counselors and marriage and family counselors concentrate on the emotional/cognitive level, and may work with groups. They also typically work in clinical settings and require at least a master's degree.

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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