Counselors work in diverse settings and provide various counseling, rehabilitation, and support services to the communities they serve. Their duties vary greatly depending on their specialty, which is determined by the setting they work in and the population they counsel. Counselors frequently work with children, adolescents, adults, or families that have issues, such as mental health disorders, addiction, school problems or vocational counseling needs, and trauma. Counselors are trained to recognize these issues and to provide appropriate counseling and support. Some counselors work independently, while others collaborate with physicians or other social workers in medical or school settings.
Steps Toward an MS in Counseling Psychology
To become a counselor, requirements vary significantly by state. Successful students typically complete the following steps:
- Earn proper undergraduate degree (requirements vary by state). Common undergraduate degrees include Bachelor of Science programs in education, psychology or human services.
- Earn proper graduate degrees (requirements vary by state) from an accredited institution like Capella, Kaplan, Liberty, or Walden University. Typically includes completing a Master of Science degree with a concentration in psychology or counseling psychology.
- Obtain proper licensure. Licensure requirements differ greatly by state, occupational specialty, and work setting.
- Consider certification options. Some counselors elect to be certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors, which grants a general practice credential of National Certified Counselor. While voluntary and distinct from state licensing, in some states, those who pass the national exam are exempt from taking a state certification exam. The board also offers specialty certifications in school, clinical mental health, and addiction counseling.
Professionals in the field should look into membership with the Society of Counseling Psychology, Division 17 of the American Psychological Association. They offer membership at student, professional affiliate, and international affiliate levels. Benefits include access to the Division 17 newsletter and other publications, participation in an online forum with other professionals in the field, and involvement with the annual convention and regional meetings.
My Degree and What It’s Worth
A degree in counseling will open many opportunities for you to help people on their personal emotional journey or provide advice in specific areas of life. A counselor is typically responsible for the following job duties:
- Evaluate strengths and limitations of patients.
- Provide personal and vocational counseling.
- Offer case management support and guidance.
- Arrange for medical care, vocational training, job placement and other outside services.
Annual salary varies within the profession based on specific type of job, location, and experience. For more on your earning potential as a counseling psychologist, please visit our salary outlook for counselors page.
Closely Related Programs
The following degrees are closely related to a master’s degree program in counseling, often allowing you to pursue a career in this field or others: