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Nonprofit Counselor: Job Description and Education Requirements

Sep 15, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a nonprofit counselor. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certifications to find out if this is the career for you.

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Nonprofit counselors provide financial planning and advice services to individuals in debt who need help. They aid these individuals in making a plan to pay off debts, and in negotiating with creditors. They can give advice about how to live without debt in the future. Nonprofit counselors typically have a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting or economics, plus professional certifications that further qualify them.

Essential Information

Nonprofit counselors assist consumers in debt and help them find solutions to financial problems. A counselor typically has a bachelor's degree in finance and enhances his or her professional status by earning professional certifications. Though pay is generally lower than a career in for-profit financial counseling, working in the non-profit sector can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in finance, accounting or economics
Other Requirements Optional certification
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 9% (credit counselors)*
Median Salary (2018) $45,180 (credit counselors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Nonprofit Counselor Job Description

Nonprofit counselors are advisors that work with consumers in debt to help them solve their financial problems. Duties include analyzing a consumer's earnings, expenses and debts, establishing a debt management plan to pay off due balances, and negotiating with creditors like credit card companies, mortgage firms and hospitals to set up payment plans and lower financing rates. Counselors also advise consumers on how to live a fiscally-responsible lifestyle and avoid future debts.

Working in the Nonprofit

Nonprofit organizations aren't businesses or government organizations and, because they don't accrue profits, usually offer their services at minimal or zero fees. Nonprofit workers generally earn less than they would doing the same positions in for-profit jobs. Many nonprofit counselors are employed by nonprofit financial consulting firms that serve the primary function of guiding consumers to debt relief. Credit counseling positions can also be found in other branches of the nonprofit sector, such as charities and foundations, churches, hospitals, trade organizations and even scientific institutions.

Nonprofit Counselor Education Requirements

A bachelor's degree in finance, accounting or economics is generally sufficient to begin a career in financial counseling. These majors usually include courses on interpersonal communication, business management, financial strategy, marketing principles and investing.

Counselors can amplify their professional statuses by completing certification programs, which are offered by numerous credit organizations, such as the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education or the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Counselors with at least three years of nonprofit experience can also underscore their expertise by earning a Certified Nonprofit Consultant designation through the National Development Institute.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

Although it is difficult to find career and salary information for the specific field of nonprofit counseling, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does list career and salary information for credit counselors, which is directly related to the work of nonprofit counselors. PayScale.com, on the other hand, lists salary information for financial counselors, which includes those working for nonprofit organizations.

The BLS reports that the employment of credit counselors will increase by 9% from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average increase for all jobs within the nation. Credit counselors are listed as earning an average annual salary of $$49,820. PayScale.com reports that the median salary of financial counselors is $43,973 as of 2019.

Nonprofit counselors give advice and financial planning services to individuals trying to get out of debt. They may analyze a person's earnings, spending, debt and lifestyle, discuss issues with the individual, and negotiate with creditors. Because they are nonprofit, these services are for little to no fee. These counselors typically have a degree in finance, economics or accounting, plus certification in financial or credit counseling.

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