Becoming a Counselor

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Counselors are responsible for providing support, rehabilitation and counseling services to children, families and/or adults with multiple issues. They help individuals with mental health disorders, disabilities, school problems and addictions, depending on their specialty and practice. Counselors provide support and guidance to individuals for coping with life transitions that could otherwise cause significant problems.

Educational Requirements to Become a Counselor

A master’s degree is required to become a counselor, although the certification and licensure requirements will vary by state. The occupational specialty selected will also determine the level of educational requirements. The fields of study for a counseling degree program include marriage and family therapy, substance abuse or addictions, rehabilitation, education counseling, community counseling, and clinical mental health. Counselors must also complete supervised internships in their chosen specialty and sit for the state certification exam before receiving a professional license to practice.

Skills Necessary to Become a Counselor

Counselors must have the ability to give their undivided attention to patients and ask appropriate questions. They must understand what triggers certain behaviors and offer appropriate advice for improvements. Marriage and family therapy counselors should have conflict resolution skills to help families understand each other and communicate better. Rehabilitation counselors are trained to recognize the attitudinal and environmental barriers that may hinder an individual’s ability to live independently.

Job and Career Outlook for a Counselor

Job growth for counselors will vary based on the specialty. General employment growth will increase for all counselors. The demand for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors will increase as more people, including drug offenders, seek treatment. More schools will hire counselors to help students deal with alcohol or drug abuse and other social issues that affect students' academic success. The salaries for counselors also vary by specialty and employer. School counselors earn an average salary of $53,600, while substance abuse counselors earn around $38,620.

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