Counseling Degrees Guide

At some point in our lives, every one of us has had something bothering us or has wished we had someone to talk to and express our concerns. If you'd like to be one of the individuals who are able to help those in need, you may find working as a counselor a good fit. Learn about the different counseling degrees and the career options for counselors.

The type of counselor you want to become will play a big part in the type of counseling degree you'll pursue. Counselors are found in many types of businesses. The most common types of counselors are school and careers counselors; rehabilitation counselors; substance abuse and behavioral disorders counselors; mental health counselors; and marriage and family therapists.

Bachelor’s Degrees in Counseling

Some individuals earn bachelor’s degree to obtain entry-level positions in counselling settings. Additionally, bachelor degree programs can also pave the way into graduate counselling programs. An example of this can be found in the Bachelor of Science in Psychology program offered at Alabama State University.

ASU’s program offers concentrations in clinical psychologists; cognitive and perceptual psychologists; community psychologists; counseling psychologists; developmental psychologists; educational psychologists; rehabilitation psychologists; and school psychologists, among others.

Some 4-year counseling degrees include courses in general psychology; abnormal psychology; theories of personality; and applied behavior analysis, such as a psychology baccalaureate program with four concentrations and a required internship. Both of these programs prepare students for various careers involving counseling and also prepare the student for graduate studies.

Master’s Degrees in Counseling

Internships and clinical experiences are a big part of counseling and psychology programs, and the counseling psychology master’s degree program at Angelo State University is no exception. This 48-credit program has a thesis or non-thesis option, a practicum courses, and coursework in marriage and family counseling; psychological assessment; cognitive behavior therapy; and counseling theories.

Graduates are prepared to work as licensed professional counselors in rehabilitation settings, vocational counseling, private practice, mental health centers, and hospitals. This is just one of many colleges offering master degree counseling programs.

Doctorate Degrees in Counseling

Counseling degrees at the doctoral degree level are generally chosen by individuals who seek careers in research, in academia or just want the highest level of education and salary for their careers. A doctoral degree candidate must have a master degree in the field already. This 76-credit program requires the student to complete core psychology coursework, a supervised practicum, a 2,000 hour supervised internship, and a dissertation.

State Licensure and Certification for Counselors

States often vary in their requirements regarding licensure and certification; however, most states require counselors be state-licensed and/or certified in almost all counseling professions. To obtain licensure, counselors typically must pass a state-approved exam, have a master’s degree and complete from 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. They must also complete continuing education credits to maintain their certification/licensure. The master degree programs will typically require that student already have a bachelor’s degree.

Counseling degrees can also be earned online. Many colleges offer counseling or psychology programs through distance learning.

Counseling Career Options

Depending on their areas of interest and study, graduates of counseling programs may find many career opportunities open to them once they become licensed. School and career counselors help students work with behavior problems; help students determine career goals; provide students with information on important issues that can affect their learning; refer students and family members to outsider sources when necessary.

Substance abuse and behavioral disorders counselor provide services and counseling to victims of drug or alcohol abuse or those with behavioral problems. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists work with patients who suffer from mental or emotional issues and provide family and relationship counseling. Rehabilitation counselors help disabled or sick people deal with their issues and lead as normal and productive lives as possible.

Guidance counselors work in a bit of a different capacity, advising students on which path their education and career should take them, but they also overlap into all of the aforementioned areas of behavioral, special needs, and substance abuse.

Listed below are the average annual wages for different types of counselors. These wages came from a May 2014 report by the BLS.