Occupational Rehabilitation Counseling

Occupational rehabilitation counselors help disabled individuals find careers and gain independence. Review the education and licensure required for this job, and read about graduate degree programs in related fields, such as vocational counseling. Learn more about the job duties, employment outlook and salary potential for occupational rehabilitation counselors.

Is Occupational Rehabilitation Counseling for Me?

Career Overview

Occupational rehabilitation counselors, also known as vocational rehabilitation counselors, help people who are born with disabilities or who have become disabled find employment that matches their needs and abilities. If you're interested in a career that requires strong communication skills, an empathetic nature and the ability to multi-task, occupational rehabilitation counseling may be the right fit for you.

Work in all fields of occupational therapy is normally hands-on. You would likely work directly with clients to assess their particular needs before determining which kinds of jobs they could find. In addition to spending a lot of time with your clients, you may also need to consult with their families and relevant professionals such physicians, social workers and career counselors.

Employment Information

If you're interested in becoming an occupational rehabilitation counselor, now is a good time to pursue this field. The need for occupational rehabilitation counselors is growing faster than the national average. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 20% growth in employment for rehabilitation counselors between the years of 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reports the average annual wage for rehabilitation counselors as $37,330 in May 2012, though that amount may vary depending upon where you practice or your level of education.

How Can I Become an Occupational Rehabilitation Counselor?

Education

If you decide to become an occupational or vocational rehabilitation counselor or specialist, you will need a bachelor's degree at minimum, and will likely need an appropriate master's degree as well. If you decide to pursue a master's degree, you also have multiple options depending on your interests and career goals. If you're especially interested in how to best assist disabled individuals, you could choose to pursue a master's degree in rehabilitation science.

If you're more interested in learning how to best help people find the appropriate careers, a master's degree in counseling with a specialization in vocational counseling could be a better fit. Required coursework can include adjustment to disabilities, theories of rehabilitation counseling, joint pathology, pediatric health and clinical anatomy, as well as practicums and internships.

Certification or Licensing

After earning your degree, you will likely need to earn a certification or license before you can begin working with clients. Certifications are typically awarded at the national level, while licenses are statewide. There are various certifications available, including a career counselor certification or a certificate in rehabilitation technology.

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