Qualified counselors are in high demand due to changing healthcare regulations, evolving medical technologies, and the needs of an aging baby boomer population. Counselors help individuals, families, and communities cope with mental health challenges, substance abuse, and behavioral disorders. They can work in school systems, helping students achieve academic and personal success. They may also occupy positions in career counseling and diverse forms of therapy.

This guide provides in-depth information on counseling degree types, concentration options, and skill development and application. You will gain insight into career options, sectors, and salary potential. The guide ends with a list of organizations that support practitioners by providing networking opportunities, funding for research, career guidance, and continuing education programs.

Skills Gained in a Counseling Degree Program

Undergraduate programs provide core skills in client assessment, treatment planning, and communication. At the master's level, students learn advanced research methodologies and program management strategies that enable them to work as counselors and therapists.

Diagnosis and Assessment
Professional counselors must be able to determine the challenges and needs of their clients. Practitioners who treat addiction and mental health issues evaluate an individual's social, psychological, and physiological state for signs of drug abuse and psychological disorders. They also ensure that clients meet eligibility criteria for program intake. Career counselors conduct aptitude tests to evaluate client interests and skills.
Action Planning
After gathering client history and conducting assessments, counselors work with individuals and their families to develop action plans for treatment and services. They also connect clients with supplementary resources, like affordable housing, education, and job placement programs. Career counselors help clients build resumes, practice for interviews, and resolve workplace conflicts.
Crisis Intervention
Addiction and behavioral disorder counselors often deal with clients who experience trauma and distress associated with mental illness and drug abuse. During these crises, practitioners quickly identify contributing factors and implement strategies to ameliorate behaviors that compromise client recovery.
Interpersonal Communication
Counseling students learn how to clearly communicate technical and otherwise complex information to diverse audiences, including students, government officials, and healthcare professionals. Interpersonal communication also helps practitioners in their roles as community educators and policy advocates.
Professional Ethics and Leadership
Because counselors help clients overcome stress and navigate complex situations, they must conduct themselves in an ethical and culturally inclusive manner. Counselors who advance to program manager and clinical director positions train and lead multidisciplinary teams. They also must ensure organizations conform to ethical standards and legal requirements.

Why Pursue a Career in Counseling?

Students who earn counseling degrees can pursue a variety of educator, clinician, and therapist careers, enabling them to make tangible, positive differences in the lives of at-risk and underserved individuals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that school and career counseling positions will increase by 13% from 2016 to 2026, adding 35,700 new jobs. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors are projected to enjoy a 23% increase in opportunities during the same time span.

Mental health represents another in-demand area for counselors. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, based on current growth estimates, the supply of qualified counselors in 2025 will fall short of demand by nearly 27,000 practitioners.

Counselors can work in a variety of settings such as schools, community centers, healthcare facilities, private businesses, and government agencies. They also benefit from dynamic professional development opportunities.

How Much Do Counseling Majors Make?

The table below details average salaries by experience level for state-licensed practitioners with a master's degree in counseling. These numbers offer a framework for the pay potential licensed counselors can expect through the course of their professional lives. However, these salaries do not consider factors like industry and job function. BLS data shows that school and career counseling professionals earn average annual salaries from $33,610 (the bottom 10%) to $94,690 (the top 10%).

Degree level also affects wage. Master's degree holders earn nearly $12,000 more in median annual salary than individuals with baccalaureate credentials.

Average Salary for Licensed Professional Counselors
Entry Level $40,042
Early Career $43,382
Midcareer $49,304
Experienced $51,242

Source: PayScale


Molly Bahr

Molly Bahr

Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Molly Bahr, LHMC is a licensed mental health counselor with a private practice in Miami, Florida (as of summer 2019). She focuses primarily on individual therapy for eating disorders, disordered eating, negative body image, anxiety, depression, and trauma. Her work is focused through a health-at-every-size and weight-inclusive lens. For the past three years, she has worked at a Honolulu, Hawaii clinic specializing in care for transgender individuals. Previously, she worked in New Orleans, Louisiana at an inpatient eating-disorder unit and an intensive outpatient program for substance use disorders.

Why did you decide to pursue a career as a counselor? Was it something you were always interested in?

I experienced an event in high school that eventually brought me to therapy, and through that process I was introduced to how incredible this field is. I don't even remember particularly enjoying therapy sessions, but they completely changed my life. Through that experience and coming to learn how everyone involved in the event was affected differently by it, I became interested in psychology and human behavior. From there, I wanted to help others the way my therapist helped me. And I wanted to better understand our behaviors and emotions. Many in my graduate program came to the field of counseling psychology as a second career -- so it's never too late to begin.

What is so valuable about earning a degree in this field right now?

Mental health providers are in high demand right now, and we need more representation in the field. As our culture continues to increase discussions around mental health and simultaneously decrease the stigma around it, we will see an even bigger need for therapists. We are seeing a shift in accepting that mental health and mental illness exist on a spectrum and we all experience symptoms to some degree. Addressing our mental health, no matter the severity of the issue, will likely become more prevalent. Perhaps in the future, medical insurance will also see the value in counseling as part of overall wellness and prevention for more severe health issues, increasing the demand for more sources of support.

Why did you decide to go into private practice?

I have always gravitated toward wanting to be my own boss and have more choice in my work. Private practice is a way to set your own hours, work with your ideal client/population, make more money, and have less paperwork. Many in the field are intimidated about the process of building and maintaining a business, partially because there isn't an emphasis in school on how to do this. Some say it's difficult for them to take money or figure out billing, but if private practice interests you, practice what you preach. Reach out to peers, ask questions, and do some research; everything is "figureoutable."

What did your career trajectory look like after you graduated? How did you end up in your current position?

I always had an idea of what I wanted to do, but I wanted to make sure I had experience within various settings and populations before I set up a private practice. After graduation, I was hired by my internship site and I continued to work with substance dependence disorder at an intensive outpatient program. I used this time to learn the ins and outs of a therapy practice (what works and what doesn't), network, collaborate with providers, and strengthen my skills to help prepare me for a private practice.

I have always been interested in working in the eating disorder field, but it can be difficult to get into because there aren't as many clinics or programs focused on it. I jumped at the opportunity to work at an inpatient eating disorder unit when one opened up. Several peers at the program had private practices on the side and started to guide me on how they were able to do this. With their guidance and support, I started on a small scale to get a feel for it. You may think you want to work with a certain population or level of care, but when you get there you might not like it at all; that's okay, it's just information.

When I relocated out of state, I decided to start with a group practice. This can be a great option for people just starting out or for those who don't want to work in an office alone. This work is already somewhat isolating, so working with peers can be a great way to prevent burnout. Collaborating and peer consultation is so important in our work, and I find group practices are a great way to stay connected and be supported. They are setup in a variety of ways, and it's up to the clinicians to decide what's in their best interest at the time -- or if a solo practice is a better fit.

What are the pros and cons of working in the industry?

Pros: This can be incredibly rewarding and meaningful work. I find myself challenged, inspired, and learning something new every day. I often think about how lucky I am to get to hear and witness so many stories, triumphs, and lessons learned. There are times I even learn something about myself I wouldn't have otherwise thought of. I am grateful to be chosen as someone's safe place to process, share, and grow.

Cons: We're humans and can feel a lot of different emotions when it comes to our clients and what they're going through. It can be difficult to see someone you care for go through incredibly painful experiences, even though you know it's human to go through challenges and experience painful emotions. We get to see a side of our clients that not everyone gets to see, including the clients themselves. It can be hard when the client doesn't yet see how incredible they are and how much they matter. If only we had magic wands sometimes…

This may be an unpopular and often unspoken opinion, but it is important that we start to look at how we can change the realities of becoming a licensed therapist. We don't always practice what we preach or take care of our own as we should. Unpaid internships, low starting salaries, poor benefits, and expensive licenses/trainings can make it difficult to become a therapist or have more diversity in the field. We can do better.

What advice would you give to recent graduates seeking a job in counseling after graduation?

The advice given to me was to get a challenging internship and get as much experience and supervision as you can. Not only will you become more skilled and build your confidence, but you will also learn what you gravitate to and what fills your bucket.

Most people go into this field wanting to help others, and in order for us to do that, we have to be sure we're taking care of ourselves. Ideally, we will find a job that fits our preferences, supports self-care, respects boundaries, and is something we enjoy doing. You matter; your needs are important; listen to your gut. You won't be as effective a therapist if you aren't living in line with your values. We tend to be people pleasers and have a hard time saying "no." On top of that, early-career therapists are sometimes prone to burnout for a variety of reasons. If this position isn't a good fit for you, it's okay to change. Consider what you'd recommend to a client in this position.

How to Succeed in Counseling

Education Required

By earning an associate degree, you may qualify for some entry-level administrative positions. However, most counseling careers require you to hold a master's degree and the appropriate certification or state license. Students typically complete a bachelor's program in counseling as part of their foundational training. After earning an undergraduate degree, future practitioners can begin building their careers, occupying support roles like social services coordinator and mental health educator.

Master of counseling programs train students in advanced research and client-support skills needed for roles such as licensed counselor, therapist, and social worker. Graduate programs also provide a wider array of concentration options that enable learners to align academic interests with professional goals. Professionals who want to pursue clinical positions often obtain doctoral credentials.

Experience Required

Bachelor's and master's programs in counseling embed hands-on training via internships and practicums. By assisting licensed professionals, students strengthen core skills like client assessment and care planning. After graduation, prospective counselors, therapists, and social workers accumulate 2,000-4,000 hours of supervised training as part of their licensure requirements. Similarly, aspiring clinical psychologists and related professionals complete postdoctoral fellowships, which typically last 1-2 years.

Even if your chosen career does not require a practicum, you should still incorporate an internship or apprenticeship into your academic training. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that more than 91% of employers surveyed prefer candidates with hands-on and industry-specific work experience.

Licensure and Certification

To be able to provide professional services such as career counseling, group counseling, and marriage and couples therapy, practitioners must earn the appropriate certification and state license. In general, the process includes obtaining a master's degree, completing a mandatory number of supervised training hours (typically 2,000-7,000 hours), passing an exam, and formally applying for certification/licensure. In addition, practitioners must maintain their credentials by completing continuing education hours.

The National Board of Certified Counselors provides information on state licensure and board certification. Candidates should consult relevant government agencies and professional organizations for further details.

The list below covers six optional certificates for professional counselors. Voluntary credentials enable practitioners to demonstrate skill mastery and relevant experience. These certification programs also allow working professionals to keep abreast of new discoveries in their field.

National Certified Counselor

This optional certification reflects the highest national standards for education and experience. To apply, candidates need a master's degree from a regionally accredited institution or a school supported by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor

Professionals who possess the national certified counselor designation are eligible to obtain this specialized certification that demonstrates proficiency in areas like human sexuality and counseling for trauma, violence, and abuse. Requirements include 3,000 hours of postgraduate clinical work with clients.

National Certified School Counselor

Another specialized certification for national certified counselors, the NCSC program emphasizes skills in program development and counseling for children, adolescents, and at-risk youth. Candidates need two years of work experience as a school counselor.

Master Addictions Counselor

This voluntary credential is open to national certified counselors who demonstrate advanced supervision experience. Candidates must complete 18 hours of graduate coursework in addictions counseling and group counseling and pass an examination.

Certified Rehabilitation Counselor

This certification reflects competencies in supporting clients with disabilities. The program is open to current graduate students and experienced counselors.

Certified Career Counselor

To qualify for this credential, practitioners must meet one of three criteria: 600 hours of pre- or post-degree supervised clinical experience, 60 hours of approved continuing education, or completion of the facilitating career development course offered by the National Career Development Association.

What Can You Do With a Counseling Degree?

Your counseling career options greatly depend on your level of educational attainment, degree concentration, and post-college experience and training. Bachelor's degree holders are prepared for nonclinical support positions that include health educator, community service coordinator, and behavioral health technician. They may also work as healthcare administrators and laboratory assistants.

By obtaining a master's degree, future practitioners can obtain counseling certificates and licenses that allow them to help individuals and groups overcome drug dependency and manage mental health issues. They may also pursue careers in academic and career counseling. Furthermore, graduate training prepares students to become marriage and family therapists. The BLS projects that demand for these therapists will increase by 23% from 2016 to 2026, meaning nearly 10,000 new positions.

Professionals who want to advance into clinical practice, research, and postsecondary teaching must obtain a doctoral degree in counseling or psychology. According to the BLS, demand for psychologists will increase by 14% between 2016 and 2016. College and university professors can expect a 15% increase in opportunities during the same time period.

Bachelor's Degree in Counseling

Bachelor's programs in counseling typically consist of at least 120 credits, which full-time students generally complete in four years. Colleges and universities increasingly deliver accelerated online tracks that enable learners to earn their degree in approximately two years. Many students begin their college experience by enrolling in an associate program to take advantage of the affordable tuition offered by community colleges before transferring into a bachelor's program.

At the undergraduate level, colleges and universities often offer psychology programs with a concentration in counseling. Alternatively, students can enroll in a bachelor of Christian counseling track, which this guide examines in a later section. Core classes for undergraduate counseling programs usually include psychology of personality, behavior modification, and applied statistics for social sciences.

Health Educator

Health educators promote wellness and provide information on disease control and prevention. They collaborate with government officials and community members to discern health needs and develop and implement educational programming. They also work as administrators who connect individuals and families to social services. Additionally, health educators coordinate volunteers and oversee program evaluations.

Average Annual Salary: $46,080

Correctional Treatment Specialist

These specialists offer social services to parolees and probationers. They evaluate clients to determine the best modes of rehabilitation. They also test offenders for drug use and coordinate substance abuse and mental health counseling. Correctional treatment specialists also maintain client files and occasionally testify in court about an offender's history and progress.

Average Annual Salary: $53,020

Social Service Manager

With a bachelor's degree, professionals can work as social service coordinators and advance into managerial positions by accumulating work experience. Social service managers administer government programs and lead community centers to help clients overcome a variety of challenges, including addiction, unemployment, and homelessness. Like other organizational leaders, they recruit staff, create budgets, and assess program effectiveness.

Average Annual Salary: $65,230

Mental Health Case Manager

Working with primary care providers, mental health case managers develop treatment plans and coordinate client intake. They evaluate needs and connect clients with mental health counselors. Case managers routinely monitor clients' progress and ensure that provided services align with government regulations and organizational policies.

Average Annual Salary: $37,131

Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator

Working with community managers and licensed counselors to identify areas of need, substance abuse prevention coordinators develop outreach events and educational programs that target designated populations. They connect individuals with resources and tools that prevent drug and alcohol abuse. They also recruit volunteers, write grants, and manage project budgets.

Average Annual Salary: $41,391

Source: BLS, PayScale

Master's Degree in Counseling

Master of counseling degree programs comprise at least 30 credits, with most students needing at least two years to complete the curriculum. Distance learners can graduate in as few as 12 months by enrolling in accelerated online tracks. Most schools allow distance learners to complete supervised training experiences with organizations in their local community.

Coursework for these programs generally includes theories of counseling and psychotherapy, ethics and legal issues in counseling, and evaluation and treatment of trauma disorders. In addition to learning advanced research methodologies, students develop counseling skills for individuals, groups, couples, and families. They round out their degree by completing a capstone project or comprehensive exam. In general, the vocations listed below require additional certification and/or licensure.

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor

These counselors help individuals address alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorders, and other behavioral challenges. They evaluate the mental and physical state of their clients and work (often with clients' families) to develop treatment plans. They also connect clients with secondary support services, including job placement, education, and affordable housing initiatives.

Average Annual Salary: $44,630

School and Career Counselor

By earning a career counseling degree, these practitioners can help individuals discern skills and interests through aptitude and achievement tests. Career counselors also assist clients with job searches, resume building, and interview practice. School counselors help learners strengthen academic skills and define career goals. They also support students dealing with social and behavioral problems.

Average Annual Salary: $56,310

Marriage and Family Therapist

These professionals help clients manage personal relationships. Marriage and family therapists encourage individuals and couples to relay their experiences and emotions. They help clients develop decision-making strategies and interpersonal skills to overcome difficult life situations. Through cognitive behavior therapy and goal-oriented approaches, therapists help clients replace destructive impulses and actions with life-affirming thoughts and actions.

Average Annual Salary: $50,090

Social Worker

Social workers help individuals adjust to difficult life changes. They assess needs and connect clients to community resources like food stamps, unemployment benefits, and affordable healthcare services. When working with children and families, social workers intervene in cases of child neglect or abuse. With clinical training, social workers may provide psychotherapy services and diagnose mental, behavioral, and emotional issues.

Average Annual Salary: $49,470

Juvenile Justice Counselor

Juvenile justice counselors work with at-risk youth who have experienced neglect, abuse, and trauma. They diagnose complex mental and emotional disorders and help clients build social and professional skills needed for long-term success. Counselors who work in the court system help offenders who have been tried for a crime.

Average Annual Salary: $42,555

Source: BLS, PayScale

Doctoral Degree in Counseling

By enrolling in doctoral counseling programs, students earn terminal credentials that enable them to occupy advanced positions and maximize their earning potential. Three major options exist in this field. Learners can pursue a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in counseling psychology, which enables them to become licensed psychologists. Similarly, they can seek a Ph.D. in professional counseling, a degree that also emphasizes clinical training and specialized counseling. Alternatively, doctoral candidates can enroll in counselor education programs that prepare them to supervise other counseling professionals and open their own practices.

Doctoral degree plans typically require 60-80 credits, which students finish in 4-7 years. Candidates spend the first two years taking required classes and gathering resources for their dissertation project. Course topics often include counseling leadership and advocacy, applied adult development, and systems of relational and intrapsychic diagnosis. Doctoral students dedicate their remaining time to research and publication in preparation for their dissertation defense. They also complete practicum requirements.

Clinical Psychologist

Like counselors, clinical psychologists diagnose emotional, behavioral, and psychological issues. However, clinical professionals focus heavily on clients with severe psychosis and disorders. They provide advanced and specialized treatment services. In certain states, psychologists may prescribe medication. Clinical psychologists may focus their services on a patient group such as children, veterans, addicts, or the elderly.

Average Annual Salary: $79,010

Postsecondary Teacher

College and university professors provide classroom instruction and laboratory training in their area of expertise. They also help students find internships, complete degree requirements, and prepare for a career after graduation. Furthermore, postsecondary teachers pursue their own research, publishing findings in scholarly journals and presenting at academic conferences. Within their departments, they assist with student recruitment and curriculum development.

Average Annual Salary: $78,470

Research Scientist

Research scientists analyze social, emotional, and cognitive processes, studying how human beings relate to each other and their environment. These scientists use their findings to help improve individual behaviors and organizational processes. When working for private companies or government agencies, they apply their skills to develop new products and services.

Average Annual Salary: $78,205

Source: BLS, PayScale

What is Christian Counseling?

Similar to nonreligious counselors, social workers, and therapists, Christian counselors provide client-based services. They focus on areas like addiction, behavioral disorders, rehabilitation, marriage and family, and youth counseling. However, Christian counselors frame their practice and methodologies around a religious worldview that incorporates biblical teachings and the fundamental tenets of contemporary Christianity. In addition to secular work settings, Christian counselors can work within religious institutions and affiliated community centers. They may also occupy positions with hospitals and universities that align their mission with the Christian faith.

Because all counselors who work in private practice need to earn state licensure, professionals in this field often pursue graduate credentials. They begin their academic training with bachelor's programs before enrolling in master's and doctoral tracks. The top Christian counseling programs maintain specialized accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. These programs integrate secular and spiritual counseling theories and practices, enabling graduates to work with diverse clients and communities.

What Can You Do With a Bachelor's Degree in Christian Counseling?

Like most bachelor's tracks, Christian counseling programs total at least 120 credits. Full-time students typically graduate in four years, while learners who enroll in accelerated online programs obtain their credentials in as little as two years. Colleges and universities usually deliver Christian counseling as a concentration for psychology or ministry studies majors. However, stand-alone programs exist and feature their own specialization options, including life coaching, global missionary outreach, and youth ministry.

The curriculum for a Christian counseling program typically grounds learners with foundational coursework in developmental and abnormal psychology. Students learn how to counsel couples, highlighting the intimate bond between mankind and God as a cornerstone for marital attachment and as a means to navigate transitions in the marriage cycle. Candidates also apply biblical teachings to youth, addiction, and mental health counseling. By synthesizing secular practices and research with a Christian worldview, students cultivate a unique counselor identity based on empathy and spiritual health.

Church Administrator

These professionals actively support their church's mission statement and core values. They oversee daily operations, including financial tasks like managing expenses, budgeting, and bill paying. Administrators work with church leaders and congregations to develop and implement religious programs and social services. They coordinate staff, ensure facility cleanliness, and maintain documents.

Average Annual Salary: $39,429

Youth Pastor

Working under the supervision of a senior pastor, youth pastors develop programs to educate and support young people. While they work with all age groups, youth pastors tend to focus their attention on teenagers who face serious social, emotional, and psychological challenges. Youth pastors arrange social events and mission trips that meet the spiritual needs of young people.

Average Annual Salary: $37,936

Religious Teacher

These educators work in churches and Christian schools, teaching Scripture and distilling religious philosophies to students. In addition to helping learners understand Christian history, religious teachers guide spiritual formation. They assist students in developing a close relationship with God in their personal and professional lives.

Average Annual Salary: $45,509

Source: PayScale

What Can You Do With a Master's Degree in Christian Counseling?

Students complete master's programs in Christian counseling in 1-2 years, depending on whether they enroll in traditional tracks or accelerated online programs. Master's credentials allow candidates to apply for state licensure. They may also earn voluntary professional certifications from organizations like the National Christian Counselors Association and the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. The American Institute of Health Care Professionals delivers a specialized certification program for Christian counselors who want to work in hospitals and other health facilities. By completing a master's program, students also gain the advanced research and leadership skills needed for doctoral training.

Master's in Christian counseling programs generally comprise 30-36 credits of required coursework like foundations of theology and applied pastoral counseling. Students delve into family systems therapy, cross-cultural counseling, and physiological bases of behavior. They also complete practicums and capstone projects. In addition to working as substance abuse counselors and social workers, Christian counseling professionals can serve as missionaries, pastors, ministers, and religious educators.

Pastoral Counselor

Like secular counselors, pastoral counselors obtain state licenses that allow them to diagnose and treat mental illness and behavioral disorders. They incorporate religious teachings with traditional counseling practices to create a psychospiritual approach to mental health. Pastoral counselors may also focus on specialized services such as helping clients work through grief.

Average Annual Salary: $48,000

Marriage Counselor

Marriage counselors observe how individuals interact in family units. Using a spiritual framework, Christian counselors help clients identify and understand harmful thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. They help couples manage disputes. Marriage counselors also teach couples how to make beneficial decisions based on empathy and their faith.

Average Annual Salary: $50,090

Hospital Chaplain

These ministers specialize in offering support to patients and their families. Hospital chaplains provide not only conventional counseling services but also spiritual guidance so patients may better handle the emotional toll of illness. Because these professionals often help families deal with a loved one's death, they must be able to manage fraught situations and provide bereavement counseling.

Average Annual Salary: $49,991

Source: BLS

What Industries Can You Work in With a Counseling Degree?

Counseling careers span diverse locations and industries, with opportunities dependent on a practitioner's education and experience. According to the BLS, outpatient care centers boast the highest employment level for substance abuse and mental health counselors, followed by psychiatric hospitals and specialized residential facilities. The list below shows five common industries for counseling professionals. In many cases, practitioners working for universities, insurance carriers, and local government agencies enjoy the highest salaries.

Community Mental Health Centers
These organizations receive partial funding from state and federal government, enabling them to provide affordable services to low-income individuals. With a counseling degree, professionals may work as mental health counselors and social workers. They can also pursue administrative careers as community service managers and case managers.
Counseling Services
This industry includes employers like hospitals and specialty clinics. Colleges and universities also offer counseling services to community members. Vocations include career counselor, addiction counselor, and family therapist.
Within this industry, counselors often work as health educators and addiction prevention specialists. These community advocates provide valuable information and connect clients with relevant social services. Counselors may also work as teachers, researchers, and academic counselors.
This broad industry employs nearly every type of counseling professional, including addiction counselors, clinical psychologists, and hospital chaplains. With specialized training in leadership and information technology, professionals can also work as hospital directors and program managers.
Public K-12 Education
This industry employs school counselors, career counselors, and social workers. Due to the age of their clients, these professionals often pursue additional training in youth and adolescent counseling.

How Do You Find a Job as a Counseling Graduate?

With a counseling degree, relevant work experience, and any necessary certifications and licensure, you can gain employment anywhere in the country as a career, mental health, or substance abuse counselor. You can also enter the field of rehabilitation counseling. These practitioners help clients with emotional, social, physical, and developmental disabilities live independently. The BLS projects a 13% increase in rehabilitation counseling positions from 2016 to 2026, meaning more than 15,000 new jobs.

You can join industry organizations to expand your network and job opportunities. The American Mental Health Counselors Association and the National Career Development Association connect members through online communities and in-person gatherings. The National Association of Social Workers provides career support for new professionals, including certification and licensure guidance.

Professional Resources for Counseling Majors

American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

AAMFT supports over 50,000 members and advocates for public policy change at the state and federal levels. Members connect through topical interest networks and geographic engagement programs. The association also facilitates leadership symposiums and research-oriented conferences. Additional resources include online training courses, minority fellowship programs, and job connections.

American Counseling Association

ACA is the world's largest professional organization for counselors. The association operates a vast knowledge center that provides information on professional competencies, ethical standards, and licensure requirements. Members access continuing education classes and webinars through a professional development center. ACA also delivers career resources that include internship/practicum opportunities and job listings.

American Psychological Association

As a leading professional and research organization for the psychological sciences, APA serves over 118,000 members and delivers comprehensive academic guidance, helping students plan their undergraduate and graduate education. The association provides in-depth career support, including job listings and internship opportunities with partner organizations. APA also offers professional development tools and support for early-career psychologists.

American School Counselor Association

Founded in 1952, ASCA supports school counselors within all experience levels and professional settings. Members connect through state/territory associations and special-interest networks. They keep abreast of emerging trends and challenges in the field by accessing ASCA's vast catalog of publications. The association delivers a full suite of professional development resources, including a webinar series, site-based training classes, and specialist training programs.

American Society of Addiction Medicine

ASAM serves more than 6,000 physicians, clinicians, and related professionals in the addiction medicine field. The society advocates for governmental change and establishes definitions for addiction and treatment services. Members benefit from clinical resources and fellowship programs. They can also access certification guidance and online learning tools. ASAM operates a career center that includes job listings and job search tips.

Association for Behavioral Analysis International

Established in 1974, ABAI works to advance the teaching, philosophy, science, and application of behavioral analysis. The association connects professionals through local chapters and online special-interest groups. ABAI provides accreditation for academic programs and supports students throughout their undergraduate and graduate training. Members can apply for open positions and network with employers through a career portal. The association also delivers online courses and curates a library of research publications.

National Association of School Psychologists

NASP serves over 25,000 school psychologists in 26 countries. Students can seek guidance about selecting a graduate program and obtaining certification/licensure. The association also offers information and resources for career entry, skill development, certification guidance, and mentorship programs for early-career professionals.

National Commission for Health Education Credentialing

NCHEC establishes professional standards for health education specialists and strengthens the workforce through training and certification. The commission operates two voluntary credentialing programs: certified education specialist and master certified health education specialist. Members can access exam preparation materials and apply for scholarships. NCHEC also provides continuing education opportunities that help health educators maintain their certification.

Society of Addiction Psychology

A division of APA, SoAP supports clinical practitioners, researchers, and educators working within the broad spectrum of addictive behaviors. The society offers in-depth information on assessment and treatment, evidence-based practices on addiction, and the opioid crisis. Students and early-career psychologists benefit from research grants and credentialing scholarships. Members connect through group email lists and annual conventions.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

As part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, SAMHSA leads the national effort on improving public and behavioral health. The administration offers diverse practitioner training in areas like suicide prevention, eating disorders, substance abuse with regard to child welfare, and veterans services. SAMHSA funds grants for programs and individual professionals.