What Types of Counseling Careers Are Available?

If you're interested in helping people achieve their goals or overcome physical, emotional or mental issues, you could become a school counselor, substance abuse counselor, mental health counselor or marriage and family therapist. Read on to learn about these career options. Schools offering Mental Health Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Counselor Career Overview

Counselors are called upon to tend to the psychological needs of their patients. This rapidly growing industry is in high demand as more people have access to health insurance. Listed below three popular counseling careers, and some specifics about each.

Important Facts About Counseling Careers

Substance Abuse Counselors Mental Health Counselors Marriage and Family Therapists
On-the-Job Training Internship available Internship/residency available Internship/residency available
Key Skills Empathy; patience; astute listening; social nuance Organization; clear speaking ability; astute listening; empathy Social nuance; clear communication; astute listening; organization
Work Environment Outpatient care centers; residential intellectual and developmental disability, mental health, and substance abuse facilities; individual and family services Individual and family services; outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers; hospitals State and local government; offices of other health practitioners; nursing and residential care facilities
Similar Occupations School and career counselors; social and human service assistants; registered nurses social and community service managers; social workers; psychologists Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors; physicians and surgeons; rehabilitation counselors

Work as a Substance Abuse Counselor

If you work as a substance abuse counselor, you'll help patients deal with problems involving alcohol, drugs, gambling and eating disorders. You may meet with clients individually, but the BLS reports that most substance abuse counseling sessions occur in groups. Your duties might include helping patients to establish healthy behavioral patterns, supporting clients' family members and preventing future addictive behaviors.

Although licensure requirements vary by state, you'll generally need to earn a master's degree in counseling, complete clinical training hours and pass an examination to earn your substance abuse counseling license. In May 2014, the BLS reported that substance abuse counselors and behavioral disorder counselors earned an average annual salary of $41,870. The projected job growth for this field from 2014-2024 is 22%, which is much faster than average.

Work as a Mental Health Counselor

If you work as a mental health counselor, you'll provide clients with diagnosis and assessment, behavioral or psychological therapy and crisis management and prevention. The BLS reports that you'll help treat people with psychological, behavioral and emotional issues, including depression, anxiety and grief. You may counsel clients individually or in groups.

All 50 states require you to be licensed in order to work as a counselor. The National Board of Certified Counselors reports that to earn your license, you would have to earn a master's degree in counseling, complete clinical training and pass an exam. In May 2014, the BLS reported that the mean annual wage for mental health counselors was $43,990. From 2014-2024, employment in this profession is expected to grow by 20%, which is much faster than average.

Work as a Marriage and Family Therapist

As a marriage and family therapist, you can expect to provide treatment to families, individuals and couples. You might help your clients overcome addictions, mental health problems and relationship issues. To become a marriage and family therapist, you typically need to earn a master's degree in marriage and family therapy, counseling or a similar field of study. You also need to complete supervised clinical experience after you earn your master's degree in order to get licensed. You also take your state's specific licensing exam for this career.

Marriage and family therapists earned a mean annual wage of $51,730 in May 2014, reported the BLS. Employment growth of 19% is expected for this career from 2014-2024, which is a much faster than average increase.

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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