Masters in Counseling Information Guide
If you are a good listener and communicator, and enjoy being a support system for others, counseling might be a good career option. Counseling programs offers a variety of specializations such as art therapy, clinical counseling, genetic counseling, ministry, treatment and recovery, school counseling, wilderness therapy, and many others. With several career options to choose from, a future in this field is both promising and rewarding.
Counselors’ duties vary, depending on their specialty, which is determined by the setting in which they work and the population they help (Read More). Counselors provide therapy for children, adolescents, adults, or families with mental health disorders and addiction, disability and employment needs, school problems, and trauma. They also develop and implement treatment plans and evaluate clients’ physical and / or mental condition. Each specialty has its own unique responsibilities and challenges.
In order to advance in the field, a graduate degree in counseling is often needed. Education requirements vary by the area of specialty you wish to study as do State licensure and certification requirements. Graduate-level programs provide the advanced training and the necessary credentials to assume increased responsibility and roles of leadership. You’ll learn applicable regulations, child and adolescent therapy, counseling theory, ethical standards, group therapy, marital and family therapy, patient/counselor relationships, testing and assessment methods, and procedures and therapeutic intervention strategies. You also have the opportunity to gain valuable experience through supervised counseling practices. For those with the right training and disposition, a career in counseling provides an opportunity to help others and change lives.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Counselors – BLS.gov: The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides information on the different types of counselors, education and training required, and statistics on employment and wages.
- American Counseling Association – Counseling.org: The official not-for-profit professional and educational organization for counselors in the United States.
- Resources – Our list of resources offers a video guide, up-to-date blog, and an interview with a professional counselor.
Masters in Counseling Online Programs
Online programs have grown in popularity as more accredited schools have started offering distance learning programs. Today, several schools offer master's in counseling degrees with dozens of specializations to select from. Find out more about each program by clicking on the links below and contacting the school with the forms we provide.
Capella University MS: Counseling Psych.MS: Addiction CounselingMS: Career CounselingMS: Mental CounselingMore Degrees...
Frequently Asked Questions About Master’s Degrees in Counseling
Students with a degree in counseling often enter careers in sociology, social work, or clinical psychology, but there is a variety of other career niches for which this degree is a useful credential. Providing advice to students, engaged couples, and even recovering addicts, are all job possibilities with the right counseling education and experience. The following questions and answers should help you get a more complete picture of the paths available to someone with a Master of Counseling degree.
What is a Master of Counseling Degree?
A Master of Counseling degree program aims to give students the tools to engage with clients and use established techniques to help the clients achieve greater personal understanding of a particular aspect of their own lives, usually with the aim of making a significant change. Counselors work in schools, mental health facilities, private clinics, businesses, and other settings where confidential advice services are beneficial.
What are some counseling career options?
Counseling is an excellent field because it allows professionals and interested students the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of specializations. Counselors are needed in many different areas. Every type of institution from businesses and schools to mental health facilities and prisons can utilize the services of a person with a master in counseling degree. Some common counseling degree specialties include:
- Addiction / Rehab Counseling (MS): In this specialty, you’ll work with clients who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, or even less clearly harmful addictions like food or sex addiction.
- Career Counseling (MS): In this career you’ll help people find a career, transition between careers, or create a plan to learn new skills and switch fields entirely.
- Clinical Counseling (MS): Usually, clinical counselors work with clients who have acute or chronic emotional and behavioral issues.
- Masters in Counseling (MS, MA, M.Ed.)The Master of Counseling degree prepares you for general work in counseling, and you may need to get a certificate or on the job training to move into a specialized field.
- Counseling Studies and Research (MS): Developing new techniques for interacting with clients and meeting the goals of the counseling profession can be a full time job in itself.
- Forensic Psychology (MS): This field is part counseling and psychology and part legal knowledge and courtroom knowhow. Understanding how the law treats mental illness in defendants and plaintiffs, and how to help the mentally disadvantaged through legal proceedings, are key skills for forensic psychologists.
- Marriage and Family Therapy (MS): This career is fairly self-explanatory. When someone’s marriage is in trouble, they may seek a third party to mediate conflict and attempt to broker a reconciliation. Marriage and family therapists and counselors are usually required to have significant supervised experience before being licensed to practice on their own.
- Mental Health Counseling (MS): Workers in this career will encounter a broad range of clients, and will help them develop mechanisms for coping with mental and emotional issues.
- Pastoral Counseling (MA): This covers all types of counseling that are offered by clergy and other church workers to members of a faith community.
- Professional Counseling (MA): Professional counselors can start their own practice in any niche where they have experience or qualification, or may work in another health worker’s clinic or practice.
- Trauma & Crisis Counseling (MS): This career involves working with clients who have experienced a trauma and are feeling emotional repercussions. Common types of clients include returned military servicemembers with post-traumatic stress disorder, the victims of violent crimes, and those affected by natural or manmade disasters that have caused serious loss of life or property.
Studying psychology can also provide inroads into a career as a counselor. Though the classes and experiences involved in a psychology degree are different from a counseling degree, the two tend to funnel students toward similar careers and employment settings. The following is a list of psychology degrees that can prepare a student for a career in counseling.
Psychology Master’s Degrees
- Master of Applied Psychology (MS)
- Master of Clinical Psychology (MS)
- Master of Child Psychology (MS)
- Master of Community Psychology (MS)
- Master of Counseling Psychology (MS)
- Master of General Psychology (MS)
- Master of Health & Wellness Psychology (MA)
- Master of Leadership Coaching Psychology (MS)
- Master of Mental Health Psychology (MS)
- Master of Psychology – Career Counseling (MA)
- Master of Sports Psychology (MS)
Educational and vocational counseling can be a rewarding and lucrative field to work in. Employment in this niche is expected to grow by 14% between 2008 and 2018, and the salaries for educational counselors are among the highest for counselors overall. The following degrees prepare students to provide counseling in various educational settings.
Counseling / Psychology Master’s Degrees in the Education Field
- Master of Educational Psychology (MS)
- Master of Guidance & Counseling (M.Ed.)
- Master of School Counseling (M.Ed. / MS)
- Master of School Psychology (MS)
What is Required for Acceptance into Master of Counseling Programs?
Most Master of Counseling program applicants need at least a bachelor’s degree in any subject, and applicants who studied counseling, psychology, or sociology may have better chances of acceptance. Applicants with only an associate’s degree may need to take a few prerequisite credits, but can still apply.
Is financial aid available for Master of Counseling students?
While a Master of Counseling degree may only take two years to complete, it can still be costly, and seeking assistance with paying for education is always a good idea. Financial aid is available from the U.S. government for students pursuing any degree. The first step toward finding out how much the government will offer you is to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This all-in-one form can get you Perkins and Stafford subsidized and unsubsidized loans, Pell Grants, and other government aid. There are also privately offered scholarships for students going into particular niches of counseling. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) offers graduate student research awards, and a minority scholarship to qualified candidates.
If you already work as a counselor, or in a facility that employs counselors, there is some chance that your employer will pay for part of your continuing education. Since counselors need to take additional classes every couple of years to keep their licenses current, most employers have an established financial aid structure for helping their employees maintain and increase their education levels.
How Much Money do Counselors Earn?
As a general rule, people with a master’s degree earn more than those with lesser or no degrees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the median annual wage for counselors was $51,050 in May of 2008, and salaries in the counseling field peak at around $82,000. The median wage for the career is higher than the U.S. median wage across all occupations, but wages vary by experience level, specialty, and type of facility. Employment for counselors is growing faster than average job growth across all disciplines. The large majority of counselors work in schools or educational and vocational counseling, which coincides nicely with the fact that elementary and secondary school counselors tend to earn the highest salaries in the field.
Ethics in Counseling Careers
There are strong legal and ethical codes that must be observed by workers in most realms of counseling. Private information regarding mental health, marriage issues, addiction, and other common counseling fodder are heavily regulated legally, especially by the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which mandates confidentiality to protect patients from the harm that sensitive information can cause in the hands of the public.
Working as a counselor is well suited for people with strong interpersonal skills and the drive to help others. Sympathy and empathy are crucial, as helping people solve their problems requires you to be able to feel their pain without getting caught up in their issues and internalizing them as your own. High levels of personal strength, confidence, and introspective ability will be beneficial to any counselor.
How to Get Started Earning a Master of Counseling
If the above options appeal to you, and the traits of sympathy, empathy, and a strong will to help others through painful and difficult experiences are right up your alley, then it is time to find out more about a Master of Counseling degree. The links below, or the career-specific links listed above, can help you get in touch with schools that offer accredited programs in all niches of counseling, so you can get the best education, online, without even having to leave your current job.
- Capella University
- Kaplan University
- Liberty University
- University of Massachusetts
- Walden University
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