Entry-Level Counseling Career Options
Many counseling careers do not require previous work experience, but vary in what training and education is required. Compare and contrast some of the entry-level counseling career options below.
|Job Title||Median Salary (2016)*||Job Growth (2016-2026)*|
|School and Career Counselors||$54,560||11%|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors||$42,150||20%|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$49,170||20%|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Career Information for Entry-Level Counseling Jobs
School and Career Counselors
School and career counselors are not required to have prior work experience in a related occupation or any on-the-job training. School counselors help students reach their educational goals by addressing any behavioral or social issues, teaching them organizational and study skills and providing additional support along with teachers and parents. Career counselors help their clients match their interests and personal skill sets to potential careers and job openings and then help the client prepare for the application and interview process. School counselors usually need a master's degree and state credential, while career counselors may need a master's degree and state license.
Rehabilitation counselors do not need any on-the-job training and do not need work experience in the field. These counselors work with clients who have various kinds of disabilities and help them learn the necessary skills and understand their personal limitations in order to work and/or live independently. Rehabilitation counselors also help their clients get any necessary resources, like wheelchairs, and work with the client's family and employer to provide the appropriate accommodations. These professionals may need certification or a license and usually have to have a master's degree.
Genetic counselors do not need prior work experience or on-the-job training to counsel clients concerning birth defects or genetic disorders. They usually begin the process by taking their client's detailed medical histories, discussing possible genetic testing options and then analyzing the genetic information to determine potential risks for various genetic conditions. These counselors then discuss and educate their clients about their specific risks and conditions, answer any questions they may have and write detailed reports about their consultation. Genetic counselors must be board certified and have a master's degree in genetics or genetic counseling.
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors
Substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors are not required to have previous work experience in the field to work with their clients. These counselors evaluate, treat and advise clients with a wide range of issues, such as behavioral problems, alcoholism, eating disorders, mental health issues and drug addiction. They help their clients identify their problems and set goals, connect clients with additional resources and services and work with a client's families to cope with the client's condition. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor's education requirements can range from a high school diploma and certification to a master's degree, while mental health counselors need a master's degree and usually have to complete an internship for training.
Marriage and Family Therapists
Marriage and family therapists do not need work experience in a related job, but usually complete an internship or residency for training. These therapists specialize in working with couples and families to address relationship problems by having clients talk about their feelings and process through their reactions to various situations. They also give clients the necessary skills to cope with hard situations, discuss future goals and decisions and connect their clients with other community resources, such as support groups, if needed. Marriage and family therapists need a license and a master's degree to practice.