Salary and Career Overview for a Masters in Counseling Psychology

Master's degree programs in counseling psychology typically cover psychological problems and their treatments. Find out about the requirements of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for counseling psychology graduates.

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Counseling psychologists are trained to help individuals, groups and couples work through psychological and behavioral issues. Earning a master's in counseling psychology can open up counseling careers with schools, healthcare providers, government agencies and many other settings. Different career options have unique salaries, but they're usually around the $40,000 to $50,000 range.

Essential Information

Most psychologists need to hold doctoral degrees, but those with master's degrees can find work as counselors in a variety of settings, including schools, private and public practices, rehabilitation centers, hospitals and government agencies. Individuals interested in counseling psychology should enroll in accredited graduate programs that combine theoretical and hands-on learning. These programs include foundations in diagnostic and therapeutic principals, and explore psychological, emotional and behavioral conditions. Because counselors typically work with a variety of people, many master's degree programs include cultural diversity courses. Graduate students are expected to complete internships with mental health agencies and clinics.

Careers Career and School Counselor Mental Health Counselor Substance Abuse and Behavioral Counselor
Education Requirements Master's degree in counseling or school counseling Master's degree in psychology, counseling or related field Varies by state, but master's degree is generally required for licensing
Other Requirements State licensure for private practice; some states require that school counselors have teaching licenses Licensure generally required Licensure required for private practice
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 8% 20% 22%
Median Salary (2015)* $53,660 $41,880 $39,980

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

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Career Options

Counselors work with individuals, families or couples to identify emotional, behavioral or psychological issues and develop coping mechanisms to deal with those issues. Individuals with master's degrees can work in several specialties within the counseling psychology field, including career and school counseling, mental health counseling and substance abuse counseling.

All states require licensure for private practice counselors, although requirements vary. Most often, states utilize the National Counselor Examination (NCE) for Certification and Licensure, administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). In addition to qualifying the test taker for state licensure, this exam can lead to voluntary credentials as a National Certified Counselor (NCC).

Career and School Counselor

Career counselors help individuals find occupations that fit their needs and interests and guide them in getting the training they need. School counselors work with students and their families to solve problems that interfere with academic success. State licensing may be required for some jobs, with requirements varying by state for school counselors. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts 8% job growth for career and school counselors from 204 to 2024. The median salary for educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors was $53,660 in 2015, the BLS reported.

Mental Health Counselor

Mental health counselors work with clients of all ages to manage psychological, behavioral and emotional issues and devise coping mechanisms and treatment programs. Issues they deal with include depression, grief and low self-esteem. Mental health counselors generally need to be licensed by the state. Jobs in this field should increase by about 20% from 2014 to 2024, according to the BLS, with the median salary at $41,880 in 2015.

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Counselor

Substance abuse counselors work with people to overcome addiction to alcohol or drugs, or to stop harmful behaviors, such as eating disorders. The education requirements vary greatly for these jobs, but counselors who wish to become licensed need a master's degree. The BLS expected jobs for substance abuse and behavioral counselors to rise by 22% from 2014 to 2024. The median salary for this field was $39,980 in 2015, the BLS reported.

Earning a master's in counseling psychology can open up a plethora of career options for you. From mental health counselor to substance abuse counselor to school counselor, a master's in counseling psychology can give you the education you need to break into a growing career field and help clients with their behavioral and mental health issues.

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