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Types of Counseling Careers: Info for Aspiring Counselors

Counseling is generally a master's level program. Continue reading to find an overview of the majors, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

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Individuals interested in pursuing careers in counseling have many options for areas of specialization. The job growth rates for educational and vocational counselors, family and marriage therapy counselors, drug and alcohol abuse counselors, and rehabilitation counselors are expected to be faster than average from 2014-2024 when compared to all occupations, which means that there will be strong job prospects for those entering these fields.

Essential Information

Counselors work in a variety of fields to give aid and direction to people in need of guidance. Whether the field is disaster counseling, family therapy or rehabilitation, counselors share the desire to help others in difficult or confusing situations. Most entry-level positions require a master's degree and successful completion of a clinical internship. Counselors must be licensed in the state in which they are employed.

Career Titles Education and Vocational Counselors Family and Marriage Therapy Counselors Drug and Alcohol Abuse Counselors Rehabilitation Counselors
Educational Requirements Master's degree Master's degree High school diploma (Master's degree required for private practice) Master's degree
Other Requirements Must be licensed within state of employment.
Some states may require previous teaching experience
Clinical internship and state exam required for licensure Clinical internship required for licensure Clinical internship and state exam required for licensure
Projected Job Growth* (2014-2024) 8% 15% 22% 9%
Mean Salary* (2015) $56,490 $53,520 $42,920 $38,040

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options

Counselors may work in a variety of settings, from public schools to private practice. Counseling may be conducted one on one, or in a group environment. Those interested in the field of counseling can choose to specialize in a multitude of ways, assisting children, families, individuals in recovery, or people who suffer from addiction.

School, Educational and Vocational Counselors

These counselors focus primarily on working with children to assist them during elementary and high school years. Most of them work in staff positions at schools where they are available to help children with their educational paths and any emotional situations that may require prompt attention. Some school counselors work in conjunction with special education teachers who have children with emotional disorders in their classrooms. Vocational counselors work both in school settings and in private practices where they may be known as career coaches or career counselors. Counselors in this field usually help older professionals make career transitions.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), reported that educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors earned a mean annual salary of $56,490 in May of 2015. The BLS also reports that school and career counselors should experience an 8% increase in jobs between 2014 and 2024.

Family Therapy and Marriage Therapy Counselors

The primary focus for both of these groups of counselors is finding methods of communication and conflict resolution. They usually consult couples or families all together in a single session. Their goal is not to hold one party responsible for a problem, but to find ways for all parties to learn how to solve problems by working together.

The BLS predicts that marriage and family therapists will experience job growth at 15% between 2014 and 2024. Also, the BLS reported that the mean annual salary was $53,520 as of May 2015.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse Counselors

Group sessions are how the majority of these counselors conduct this type of therapy. In situations such as these, they find it helpful to show the patient that he or she is not alone in striving to overcome a powerful addiction. Many of these counselors are available on a one-on-one basis for support calls while the individual is in therapy to overcome the problem. Some of these counselors specialize in helping the family and loved ones of the person with the addiction.

The BLS predicts that job growth for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors will increase by 22% between 2014 and 2024. In May of 2015, the BLS reported that the mean annual salary for members of this field was $42,920.

Rehabilitation Counselors

When an individual is physically, mentally or emotionally disabled, it is often the rehabilitation counselor who helps in the transition to a more independent lifestyle. A rehabilitation counselor covers a broad range of assistance for a patient through coordination with local outreach programs, state aid, vocational training and other assistance avenues. The counselor will meet with the client to discover specific needs and offer support venues tailored to help acquire housing, employment and emotional or mental health therapy.

Rehabilitation counselor positions are expected to grow by 9% over the 2014-2024 decade, per the BLS. Additionally, the BLS reported that the mean annual salary for rehabilitation counselors was $38,040 in May of 2015.

A career in counseling can involve working with individuals with disabilities, people with marriage or family issues, those suffering with addiction, or students. A high school diploma may be sufficient to begin a career as a drug and alcohol abuse counselor, although a master's degree is typically required for all other fields. State licensing requirements for each field vary, and those interested in pursuing a career in counseling should check their state requirements to ensure they fulfill the certification or licensing requirements.

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