Counseling Salaries: How Much Does a Counselor Make?

Contemplating a career in counseling? Read on to learn more about how your education, location, and occupation can lead to lucrative salaries in the field.

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by Amber D. Browne

Published September 21, 2022

Edited by Desiree Cunningham
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Counseling Salaries: How Much Does a Counselor Make?
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A counselor's responsibilities include evaluating an individual's problems or needs and advising the client about a course of action. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), substance misuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earned a median salary of $48,520 in May 2021.

Counselors' salaries can fluctuate depending on education, geographical location, and specialization. For example, the BLS reports educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors earned a median salary of $60,510 in May 2021. If a career in counseling interests you, read on to find out more about counseling salaries.

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What Is the Average Counselor Salary?

The median counseling salary can vary depending on occupation. According to the BLS, the median salary for rehabilitation counselors in May 2021 was $38,560. During the same period, education counselors earned $60,510. No matter your speciality, negotiating your salary can increase your earnings.

Highest-Paying Counselor Jobs

Counselors' salaries vary depending on their licenses, level of education, and years of experience. Listed below are a few of the highest-paying counselor jobs.

Counselor Job Average Annual Salary
Guidance Counselor $53,760 as of July 2022
School Counselor $52,360 as of August 2022
Director of Counseling $66,870 as of July 2022
Psychology Teacher, Postsecondary $85,620 as of June 2022
Behavioral Health Director $84,730 as of June 2022

Data from Payscale

How Much Counselors Make in Your State

Depending on the state you work, you may make more or less as a counselor. According to the BLS, counselors who worked in Alaska, North Dakota, and New Jersey made higher salaries than those in other states as of 2021. Counselors in states with larger populations also reported higher salaries. Counseling positions in education or mental health also paid more than others.

Below you will find average annual counseling salaries for four career categories.

Median Salary for Counselors by State (2021)
State Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors Rehabilitation Counselors Substance Misuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors Counselors, All Other
Alabama $59,260 $41,270 $38,830 $59,970
Alaska $61,510 $48,480 $61,040 No Data
Arizona $49,430 $38,270 $48,930 $49,330
Arkansas $49,890 $37,200 $38,660 $37,200
California $76,310 $36,280 $49,630 $39,590
Colorado $60,510 $43,610 $49,630 $60,450
Connecticut $61,730 $37,790 $48,900 $49,710
Delaware $71,980 $38,780 $46,910 No Data
District of Columbia $63,340 $47,560 $60,600 $60,600
Florida $49,290 $36,360 $46,680 $36,630
Georgia $60,250 $52,370 $44,080 $40,380
Guam $61,190 No Data No Data No Data
Hawaii $62,250 $38,720 $51,060 $50,010
Idaho $48,560 $39,740 $49,360 No Data
Illinois $49,510 $43,150 $47,640 $48,360
Indiana $49,340 $38,290 $46,230 $49,560
Iowa $49,290 $36,360 $47,730 $36,410
Kansas $49,590 $30,440 $48,330 No Data
Kentucky $60,040 $38,500 $44,250 $48,460
Louisiana $60,510 $37,340 $37,510 $38,960
Maine $50,250 $48,700 $48,960 $47,320
Maryland $64,280 $38,320 $55,480 $38,710
Massachusetts $74,780 $47,720 $48,960 $49,870
Michigan $49,300 $38,610 $48,820 $40,830
Minnesota $58,160 $46,990 $48,980 $47,470
Mississippi $49,590 $33,350 $37,580 $28,810
Missouri $47,500 $43,150 $38,920 $37,300
Montana $47,760 $31,750 $46,790 $49,340
Nebraska $61,190 $43,090 $49,370 $37,060
Nevada $36,100 $48,040 $59,940 $61,020
New Hampshire $48,680 $44,560 $46,640 No Data
New Jersey $76,630 $76,410 $60,000 $80,280
New Mexico $60,510 $38,500 $56,750 No Data
New York $61,660 $38,390 $49,650 $60,880
North Carolina $49,560 $39,320 $48,640 $52,280
North Dakota $60,760 $53,840 $60,920 $69,010
Ohio $61,140 $38,320 $47,510 $46,640
Oklahoma $49,300 $29,250 $47,500 $29,240
Oregon $61,330 $58,640 $59,060 $60,480
Pennsylvania $61,860 $36,590 $46,790 $58,550
Puerto Rico $30,190 $29,160 $17,590 $30,020
Rhode Island $61,280 $59,990 $60,300 No Data
South Carolina $49,130 $30,220 $38,110 $29,360
South Dakota $47,760 $42,430 $39,070 No Data
Tennessee $49,980 $38,500 $37,700 $39,520
Texas $61,100 $44,320 $46,470 $47,320
Utah $48,520 $37,060 $60,460 $38,960
Vermont $59,360 $38,500 $47,320 $38,520
Virginia $62,540 $39,210 $44,870 $47,310
Washington $75,780 $47,390 $49,360 $60,020
West Virginia $49,360 $37,200 $38,100 $37,430
Wisconsin $49,980 $37,060 $48,100 $43,660
Wyoming $60,790 $53,150 $60,130 No Data

Data sourced from the BLS

The Highest-Paying States for Counselors (by Median Salary, 2021)
Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors Rehabilitation Counselors Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors Counselors, All Other
#1 New Jersey
#2 California
#3 Washington
#1 New Jersey
#2 Rhode Island
#3 Oregon
#1 Alaska
#2 North Dakota
#3 Utah
#1 New Jersey
#2 North Dakota
#3 Nevada

Data sourced from the BLS

Job Growth for Counselors

You can rest assured as prepare for your first job after college. The BLS projects the positions for school and career counselors and advisors to grow by 11% from 2020-2030, which is higher than the growth rate across all occupations during the same period of 8%.

The BLS projects the demand for substance misuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors to grow 23% before the end of the decade. The high growth rate is due to the large number of workers who change occupations or leave the workforce.

What Field of Counseling Pays the Most?

If you are a recent college graduate and are looking for a career, you may want to consider earning a graduate degree. One of the most lucrative counseling fields is clinical psychology, which requires a Ph.D. or doctor of psychology (Psy.D.) for those who wish to practice.

A clinical psychologist evaluates an individual's behavioral, mental, emotional, and social processes and advises them on steps to take to improve their situations. The median annual salary for a clinical psychologist was $81,040 in May 2021, according to the BLS.

Other top paying counseling jobs include:

More Education May Lead to a Higher Counselor Salary

Bachelor's in Counseling Salary

Most counseling careers require a bachelor's degree in counseling, psychology, or public policies and social services. According to the BLS, a number of entry-level job opportunities are available for those with bachelor's degrees, including substance misuse and behavioral disorder counselor positions.

The BLS projects jobs for these professionals to increase by 23% from 2020-2030, partially due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on people's mental health.

Depending on your career path and the state in which you work, you may have to earn a specific license or complete an internship after earning a bachelor's degree in order to practice.

Substance Misuse Counselor

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $48,520

Substance misuse counselors typically work with individuals managing addiction. They can work with specific client populations and specialize in certain areas of intervention. To have a private practice or work individually with a client, a substance misuse counselor may be required to have a master's degree.

Crisis Counselor

Average Annual Salary (July 2022): $44,690

A crisis counselor works with people experiencing crisises or disasters to help them regain a sense of control. They may offer help finding resources. A crisis counselor can work at nonprofit humanitarian organizations, mental health clinics, or crisis counseling centers.

Social and Community Service Manager

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $74,000

A social and community service manager coordinates and supervises programs to support public well-being. Individuals in these positions need a bachelor's degree, work experience, and possibly a master's degree.

Master's in Counseling Salary

Individuals who want to run their own private practices or work as school counselors typically earn master's degrees. Students can pursue their degrees in person or online. They may choose programs in addiction counseling, school counseling, or marriage and family counseling.

Once an individual earns a master's degree, they may also need to acquire specific licenses and supervised clinical experience. Continuing education is also a requirement to practice in most states. The majority of counseling practitioners have a masters-level education, according to the American Counseling Association (ACA). Those with master's degrees typically earn more than those with bachelor's.

Rehabilitation Counselor

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $38,560

Rehabilitation counselors evaluate and guide individuals living with physical, mental, developmental, and emotional disabilities. They may help them live independently, find jobs, or access resources. They often work in community and vocational rehabilitation services.

Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)

Average Annual Salary (August 2022): $50,260

A licensed professional counselor (LPC) often works in a private practice to diagnose and treat people managing mental, emotional, or behavioral conditions. According to the ACA, LPCs can also work in community mental health centers, agencies, and organizations.

School Counselor

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $60,510, per the BLS

School counselors work with students to develop academic and social skills. They may also work with students to develop plans following graduation. Public school counselors must have a state-issued license, certification, or endorsement to practice.

Doctorate or Ph.D. in Counseling Salary

A Ph.D. in psychology or a Psy.D. can increases job opportunities and the possibility of a higher salary in counseling-related careers. A Ph.D. in psychology can open doors for professionals who want to become researchers of college professors. Those interested in clinical work often pursue a Psy.D.

After earning a doctorate or Ph.D., you may also be required to obtain a license and complete continuing education. Check with state licensing offices for additional requirements.

Clinical Psychologist

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $81,040

A clinical psychologist studies and evaluates a person's behavioral, mental, emotional, and social processes to help improve their quality of life. A clinical psychologist may write reports to share findings or supervise other counseling professionals.

Postsecondary Teacher

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $79,640

Postsecondary teachers instruct students at four-year colleges and universities. The BLS projects jobs for these professionals will increase 12% between 2020 and 2030, which is higher than the average growth rate for all occupations during the same period.

School Psychologist

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $78,780

School psychologists work to identify and address education and behavioral problems in students. They develop a plan and work with each student, the student's family, and the school to improve school performance.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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