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Be a Child Care Counselor: Education and Career Roadmap

Watch this video to learn about the requirements to become a child care counselor. Learn the job description and duties, and see the step-by-step process to start a career as a child care counselor. View article »

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  • 0:00 Child Care Counselors
  • 1:02 Get a Bachelor's Degree
  • 1:40 Gain Work Experience
  • 2:00 Obtain Further…

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Video Transcript

Child Care Counselors

Child care counselors are employed by residential treatment centers, group homes and similar organizations that house or provide services to children, some of whom have special needs. This is generally an entry-level position, requiring a minimum amount of experience. Some employers require candidates to have a bachelor's degree in psychology or a related area, while others do not require a degree.

Job duties range from group supervision, attending staff meetings and caring for children's basic needs to responding to emergency situations and dealing with behavioral issues. Some jobs require overnight stays.

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; master's degree recommended for advancement
Degree Field Psychology, social work, education or related field
Experience Previous experience working with children is often preferred by employers
Key Skills Communication, social perceptiveness, service-oriented nature, monitoring, critical thinking, judgment, decision-making, persuasion, complex problem-solving
Salary $41,880 per year (2015 median salary for all mental health counselors, including those responsible for children)

Sources: Employer Job Postings (December 2012), MHA Health Careers Center, ONet Online, Bureau of Labor Statistics ( May 2015)

Let's take a look at the three main steps involved in becoming a child care counselor:

Step 1: Get a Bachelor's Degree

Degrees in social work, psychology or education provide an educational background appropriate for child care counselors. Psychology programs teach subjects such as abnormal psychology, personality theory, and social psychology.

Degree programs in social work cover research methods, social welfare policies, human behavior and the social environment, while degree programs in early childhood education focus on childhood development, child psychology, and the education of children.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Employers may prefer candidates to have some prior experience working with children. Working as an entry-level child care provider, such as in a day care or afterschool program, may provide the appropriate experience.

Step 3: Obtain Further Education & Licensure

Individuals who would like more education and job opportunities might consider becoming licensed therapists. This involves obtaining a master's degree and taking advanced courses in counseling theory and techniques, family assessment, substance abuse counseling, and human development. Internships are often part of a master's program.

After completion of the program, counselors must complete around two years of supervised clinical experience before they can become licensed.

Becoming a child care counselor involves three main steps, including earning a bachelor's degree in a field related to child psychology, gaining some relevant experience, and working to advance your career through graduate level education and official licensure.


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