Through lecture-based courses and hands-on clinical practice, students in community counseling master's degree programs learn to assess clients and offer solutions that lead to empowerment and the promotion of ethical behavior. Students can choose to specialize in areas like clinical counseling, school counseling and rehabilitation counseling, among others. Fieldwork or internship opportunities are often required and offer students real-world experience working with clients in group settings. Some schools offer part-time learning schedules. Graduates are usually eligible for licensure.
Applicants must have earned a bachelor's degree before applying to a master's program, though no specific major is required.
Master's Degree in Community Counseling
Students can learn how behavior is affected by patient interaction with family, professionals and community members. They might explore methods of providing guidance and help individuals to acknowledge behavioral accountability. Courses teach research methodology, diagnostic practices and treatment techniques related to community counseling. Courses within a program might include:
- Theories of personality
- Mental health counseling
- Group counseling
- Adult development
- Patient assessment
Popular Career Options
Graduates can work for community centers, mental health clinics, hospitals, correctional institutions, government agencies or schools. They could also enter private practice and provide counseling services to community members. State licensure is generally required for counselors in most settings, though specific requirements vary. Some possible job titles could include:
- School social worker
- Program case manager
- Counselor in a group setting
- Mental health consultant
Job Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates that the employment of school and career counselors will increase by 8% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists should expect an increase of 19% in job openings during the same period of time. According to 2015 data from the BLS, the median wage of school and career counselors was $53,660 a year. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists earned median salaries of $43,190.
Graduates can expand their knowledge by enrolling in graduate and post-graduate certificate programs in such topics as family therapy, gerontology, drug-abuse counseling and school counseling. Professional organizations, such as the American Counseling Association (ACA), offer workshops and conferences to those interested in keeping up with the latest theories and methods in counseling. Master's degree-holders can also become qualified for advanced career opportunities by pursuing doctoral degrees in a related field, such as counseling, psychology or human behavior. Licensed professionals usually need to complete some continuing education to maintain licensure.
Master's degree programs in community counseling allow students to specialize in one of a few areas and develop counseling techniques specific for that field. Graduates can pursue licensure as counselors, earn professional certification or continue their education.