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. Job settings typically include private practices, schools, offices, hospitals, community centers, and businesses. Counselors are trained to recognize these issues and to provide appropriate counseling and support.
Steps Toward an MA in Professional Counseling
To become a professional 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 Arts degree with a concentration in professional counseling.
- Obtain proper licensure. Licensure requirements differ greatly by state, occupational specialty, and work setting. Typically, to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), one must:
- Acquire a master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited institution.
- Complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience within the first two years after completing a master’s program.
- Pass the National Counselor Examination or state equivalent.
- Adhere to the Code of Ethics as recognized by the state’s licensure board.
- 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.
My Degree and What It’s Good For
A professional 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.
Depending on the specific job, location, and experience, the average salary for a professional counselor will vary. To learn more, please visit our salary outlook for counselors.
Online MA in Professional Counseling Degree Programs
Closely Related Programs
The following degrees are closely related to a master’s degree program in professional counseling, often allowing you to pursue a career in this field or others: