Counseling Careers

Updated on April 20, 2023
Learn more about our editorial process 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.

Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

Take our quiz and we'll do the homework for you! Compare your school matches and apply to your top choice today.

Counselors help their patients handle day-to-day stress and find solutions to long-term emotional or psychology problems. Careers with a counseling degree vary based on education and specialization. Many counselors focus on a single area, such as substance abuse, mental health, or career and guidance counseling.

This guide provides the academic and employment information you need to pursue a counseling career. You will learn about entry requirements for major occupations in the field. The guide also covers professional development resources, which include massive open online courses (MOOCs), certification/licensure, and fellowship programs.

Why Pursue a Career in Counseling?

Individuals usually pursue a career in counseling because they want to help other people understand the psychological processes that affect how human beings think, behave, and react to the world around them. Because they tackle complex and fraught situations, counselors must be able to exercise empathy and compassion. They must also objectively analyze the behaviors of all relevant parties.

Counselors' ability to listen with genuine interest and unconditional positive regard makes it easier for them to form bonds of trust with patients of all backgrounds. Critical thinking comes into play when they need to form open-ended questions and interpret patient responses to form connections.

Counseling Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), clinical, counseling, and school psychologists earn a mean annual wage of $87,450. These professionals enjoy the highest salary potential at child daycare services, where they earn about $120,130 each year.

The BLS projects 8% job growth for school and career counselors and 22% job growth for marriage and family counselors between 2019 and 2029. During the same period, concerns over the opioid overdose epidemic and its connections to psychological and behavioral disorders contribute to 25% projected job growth for substance abuse and mental health counselors.

Median Annual Salary for Counseling Careers
Job Title Entry-Level
(0-12 months)
Early Career
(1-4 Years)
(5-9 Years)
(10-19 Years)
School Counselor $43,900 $46,400 $51,630 $58,700
Career Counselor $40,500 $43,410 $46,890 $49,650
Mental Health Counselor $39,190 $40,970 $45,530 $49,180
Addiction Counselor $37,980 $39,110 $38,630 $41,970

Source: PayScale

Popular Online Counseling Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Skills Gained With a Counseling Degree

Undergraduate programs provide core skills in client assessment, treatment planning, and communication. At the master's level, students learn advanced research methodologies and program management strategies that prepare them for careers as counselors and therapists.

Diagnosis and Assessment

Chevron Down

Professional counselors must determine the challenges and needs of their clients. Practitioners who treat addiction and mental health issues evaluate an individual's social, psychological, and physiological state for signs of drug abuse and psychological disorders. They also ensure that clients meet eligibility criteria for program intake. Career counselors conduct aptitude tests to evaluate client interests and skills.

Action Planning

Chevron Down

After gathering client history and conducting assessments, counselors work with individuals and their families to develop action plans for treatment and services. They also connect clients with supplementary resources like affordable housing, education, and job placement programs. Career counselors help clients build resumes, practice for interviews, and resolve workplace conflicts.

Crisis Intervention

Chevron Down

Addiction and behavioral disorder counselors often deal with clients who experience trauma and distress associated with mental illness and drug abuse. During these crises, practitioners quickly identify contributing factors and implement strategies to ameliorate behaviors that compromise client recovery.

Interpersonal Communication

Chevron Down

Counseling students learn how to clearly communicate technical and otherwise complex information to diverse audiences, including students, government officials, and healthcare professionals. Interpersonal communication also helps practitioners excel in their roles as community educators and policy advocates.

Professional Ethics and Leadership

Chevron Down

Because counselors help clients overcome stress and navigate complex situations, they must conduct themselves in an ethical and culturally inclusive manner. Counselors who advance to program manager and clinical director positions train and lead multidisciplinary teams. They must also ensure that organizations meet ethical standards and legal requirements.

Counseling Career Paths

Although all counselors help people overcome personal challenges and achieve their goals, their settings and patient groups differ based on which specialization they pursue. This section details five popular career paths for professionals in this field. Depending on the specialization, you may need specialized government licensure and/or clinical certification.

Marriage and Family Counseling

These specialists work with individual patients, couples, and families in a variety of settings, including social service agencies, inpatient facilities, private practices, and community mental health centers. Marriage and family counselors focus on issues relating to familial relationships, including lack of communication and relevant emotional/mental disorders. They may also provide pre-marriage counseling for engaged couples.

Substance Abuse Counseling

Also known as addiction counselors, substance abuse counselors help patients identify their problems with drug, gambing, alcohol, and sex. Substance abuse counselors also help people suffering from eating disorders and body dysmorphia. They develop personalized plans that focus on models for prevention, recovery, and relapse. These professionals can also oversee crisis counseling and group therapy sessions.

Mental Health Counseling

Licensed mental health counselors diagnose complex psychiatric and emotional disorders, developing treatment plans that help patients understand and cope with these conditions. They focus on therapeutic techniques that address anxiety, depression, stress, trauma, low self-esteem, and suicidal impulses. Mental health counselors also implement educational outreach programs that target certain at-risk populations, like incarcerated people or the elderly.

School Counseling

These specialists help K-12 students overcome academic, social, and behavioral problems by teaching them life skills that emphasize prevention and conflict resolution. Depending on their employer, school counselors may develop and manage educational programming to raise awareness of issues like bullying, social media addiction, alcohol and drug use, and domestic abuse.

Career Counseling

Professionals who specialize in career counseling work with high school students, recent college graduates, and professionals looking to switch jobs. They assess their client's aptitudes and achievements to discern what field best suits their interests, skills, and experience. Career counselors also help clients search for jobs, write engaging resumes and cover letters, and practice for interviews.

How to Start Your Career in Counseling

Your counseling career options greatly depend on your level of education, degree concentration, and post-college experience and training. Bachelor's degree-holders can pursue support positions such as health educator, community service coordinator, and behavioral health technician. They can also find work as healthcare administrators and laboratory assistants.

By earning a master's degree, future practitioners can obtain counseling certificates and licenses that allow them to help individuals and groups overcome drug dependency and manage mental health issues. They can also pursue careers in academic and career counseling.

Furthermore, graduate programs prepare students to become marriage and family therapists. The BLS projects 22% job growth for these professionals between 2019 and 2029.

Professionals who want to advance into clinical practice, research, and postsecondary teaching must earn a doctoral degree in counseling or psychology. The BLS projects 3% job growth for psychologists and 9% job growth for professors between 2019 and 2029.

Bachelor's Degree in Counseling

Bachelor's programs in counseling typically consist of at least 120 credits, which full-time students generally complete in four years. Many schools deliver accelerated online tracks that allow learners to graduate in approximately two years. Many students enroll in an associate program at a community college for affordable tuition before transferring into a bachelor's program.

At the undergraduate level, colleges and universities often offer psychology programs with a concentration in counseling. Core classes for undergraduate counseling programs usually include psychology of personality, behavior modification, and applied statistics for social sciences.

What Can You Do With a Bachelor's in Counseling?

Health Educator

Chevron Down

Health educators promote wellness and provide information on disease control and prevention. They collaborate with government officials and community members to discern health needs and develop and implement educational programming. They also work as administrators who connect individuals and families to social services. Additionally, health educators coordinate volunteers and oversee program evaluations.

Salary: $46,910

Correctional Treatment Specialist

Chevron Down

These specialists offer social services to parolees and probationers. They evaluate clients to determine the best modes of rehabilitation. They also test offenders for drug use and coordinate substance abuse and mental health counseling. Correctional treatment specialists maintain client files and occasionally testify in court about an offender's history and progress.

Salary: $54,290

Social Service Manager

Chevron Down

With a bachelor's degree, professionals can work as social service coordinators and advance into managerial positions by accumulating work experience. Social service managers administer government programs and lead community centers to help clients overcome addiction, unemployment, and homelessness. Like other organizational leaders, they recruit staff, create budgets, and assess program effectiveness.

Salary: $67,150

Mental Health Case Manager

Chevron Down

Working with primary care providers, mental health case managers develop treatment plans and coordinate client intake. They evaluate needs and connect clients with mental health counselors. Case managers routinely monitor clients' progress and ensure that provided services align with government regulations and organizational policies.

Salary: $38,340

Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator

Chevron Down

Working with community managers and licensed counselors to identify areas of need, substance abuse prevention coordinators develop outreach events and educational programs that target designated populations. They connect individuals with resources and tools that prevent drug and alcohol abuse. They also recruit volunteers, write grants, and manage project budgets.

Salary: $42,780

Master's Degree in Counseling

Master's programs in counseling require at least 30 credits, with most students needing at least two years to complete the curriculum. Distance learners can graduate within 12 months by enrolling in accelerated online tracks. Most schools allow distance learners to complete supervised training experiences with organizations in their local community.

Coursework for these programs generally includes theories of counseling and psychotherapy, ethics and legal issues in counseling, and evaluation and treatment of trauma disorders. In addition to learning advanced research methodologies, students develop counseling skills for individuals, groups, couples, and families. Most programs culminate in a capstone project or comprehensive exam.

In general, the vocations listed below require additional certification and/or licensure.

What Can You Do With a Master's in Counseling?

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor

Chevron Down

These counselors help individuals address alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorders, and other behavioral challenges. They evaluate the mental and physical state of their clients and work (often with clients' families) to develop treatment plans. They also connect clients with secondary support services, including job placement, education, and affordable housing initiatives.

Salary: $46,240

School and Career Counselor

Chevron Down

These practitioners help clients discern skills and interests through aptitude and achievement tests. Career counselors also assist clients with job searches, resume building, and interview practice. School counselors help learners strengthen academic skills and define career goals. They also support students dealing with social and behavioral problems.

Salary: $57,040

Marriage and Family Therapist

Chevron Down

These professionals help clients manage personal relationships. Marriage and family therapists encourage individuals and couples to relay their experiences and emotions. They help clients develop decision-making strategies and interpersonal skills to overcome difficult life situations. Through cognitive behavior therapy and goal-oriented approaches, therapists help clients replace destructive impulses and actions with life-affirming thoughts and actions.

Salary: $49,610

Social Worker

Chevron Down

Social workers help individuals adjust to difficult life changes. They assess needs and connect clients to community resources like food stamps, unemployment benefits, and affordable healthcare services. When working with children and families, social workers intervene in cases of child neglect or abuse. With clinical training, social workers can provide psychotherapy services and diagnose mental, behavioral, and emotional issues.

Salary: $50,470

Juvenile Justice Counselor

Chevron Down

Juvenile justice counselors work with at-risk youth who have experienced neglect, abuse, and trauma. They diagnose complex mental and emotional disorders and help clients build social and professional skills needed for long-term success. Counselors who work in the court system help offenders who have been tried for a crime.

Salary: $42,560

Doctoral Degree in Counseling

By enrolling in doctoral counseling programs, graduates prepare to pursue advanced positions and maximize their earning potential.

Learners can pursue a Ph.D. in counseling psychology, which enables them to become licensed psychologists. They can also seek a Ph.D. in professional counseling, a degree that emphasizes clinical training and specialized counseling. Additionally, doctoral candidates can enroll in counselor education programs that prepare them to supervise other counseling professionals and open their own practice.

Doctoral degree plans typically require 60-80 credits, which students finish in 4-7 years. Candidates spend the first two years taking required classes and gathering resources for their dissertation. Covered topics often include counseling leadership and advocacy, applied adult development, and systems of relational and intrapsychic diagnosis.

Doctoral students dedicate their remaining time to research and publication in preparation for their dissertation defense. They also complete a practicum.

What Can You Do With a Doctorate in Counseling?

Clinical Psychologist

Chevron Down

Like counselors, clinical psychologists diagnose emotional, behavioral, and psychological issues. However, clinical professionals focus heavily on clients with severe psychosis and disorders. They provide advanced and specialized treatment services. In certain states, psychologists may prescribe medication. Clinical psychologists may focus their services on a patient group, such as children, veterans, or the elderly.

Salary: $80,370

Postsecondary Teacher

Chevron Down

College and university professors provide classroom instruction and laboratory training in their area of expertise. They also help students find internships, complete degree requirements, and prepare for a career after graduation. Furthermore, postsecondary teachers pursue their own research, publishing findings in scholarly journals and presenting at academic conferences. Within their departments, they assist with student recruitment and curriculum development.

Salary: $79,540

Research Scientist

Chevron Down

Research scientists analyze social, emotional, and cognitive processes, studying how human beings relate to each other and their environment. These scientists use their findings to help improve individual behaviors and organizational processes. When working for private companies or government agencies, they apply their skills to develop new products and services.

Salary: $80,180

How to Advance Your Career in Counseling

After earning a bachelor's degree and obtaining an entry-level position, you can advance your career in counseling by accruing clinical experience supporting clients of differing ages, gender expressions, ethnicities, and economic standing. The more people you work with, the better you will become at creating personalized treatment plans and intervention strategies.

The following section provides additional ways for you to grow your counseling career, including information about required licensure and optional certification. You will also discover the benefits of pursuing continuing education through MOOCs and fellowship opportunities.

Certifications and/or Licensure

Counselors must earn governmental licensure to legally practice their profession. They apply for this credential through their state's official board, which, depending on the location, operates either a single-license or two-tiered system. Requirements usually include a master's degree, a supervised practicum, and a passing score on the National Counselor Examination and/or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination.

In addition to required licensure, counselors can strengthen their employability by pursuing certification. Not to be confused with academic certificates granted by colleges and universities, certifications come from professional counseling organizations. These optional credentials allow counselors to provide evidence of skills and clinical experience with a specific patient group or counseling method.

Popular options include the certified career counselor from the National Career Development Association and the American Institute of Health Care Professionals's crisis intervention counseling certification. The Association for Addiction Professionals offers seven certification programs, including specializations in nicotine dependence and adolescent addictions.

Continuing Education

To become a licensed counselor, therapist, or social worker, you must obtain at least a master's degree. However, before you dedicate the substantial amount of time and money needed to complete a graduate program, you can advance your counseling career by completing MOOCs. Platforms like edX, Coursera, and LinkedIn Learning enable students to take free online classes about fundamental counseling concepts and advanced psychology theories.

Academic certificates are another cost-effective and quick way to learn new skills. Some universities offer certificate programs that prepare students for initial counseling licensure, while other schools deliver graduate certificates for licensed counselors who want to specialize in areas like school counseling or clinical mental health counseling.

Doctoral candidates can apply for paid fellowships through organizations like the NBCC Foundation and the American Psychological Association.

Next Steps

Continuing education not only helps counselors enhance their skills and stay current on changes in the field, but also allows them to maintain professional credentials. Renewal requirements vary by state and the level/specialization of the license. For example, licensed professional counselors in Louisiana need to renew their license every two years by submitting documentation proving they completed 40 hours of approved continuing education.

Counseling professionals also advance their careers by collaborating with colleagues and mentors, as well as connecting with potential employers. You can meet new people by attending local networking events offered by your employer, a nearby university, or the regional chapter of a national counseling organization.

Professional associations also host massive annual gatherings, like the conferences for members of the American College Counseling Association and the American Mental Health Counselors Association.

How to Switch Your Career to Counseling

For professionals with a bachelor's degree, switching to a counseling career is relatively simple. They need to complete a master's program in counseling that prepares them to pass the exam required by their state to obtain initial licensure. Some universities allow bachelor's degree-holders to enroll in intensive Ph.D. tracks that provide comprehensive knowledge and clinical training.

Practitioners in adjacent fields like psychology and social work can typically switch to a career in counseling by completing a fellowship that gives them the required experience to apply for initial state licensure. Psychologists may provide specialized counseling services by opening a private practice.

Where Can You Work as a Counseling Professional?

By pursuing a career in counseling, you can work for employers across multiple industries in almost every U.S. state. Counselors can also find employment abroad, providing clinical and educational services in international schools, multinational corporations, and military bases. The following section explores the different career counseling opportunities, focusing on salary potential and geographic location.


Because they are equipped to help diverse groups of people, licensed counselors can work in a variety of industries. They can pursue jobs in education with K-12 schools and colleges, as well as in the business sector with career consulting firms. Healthcare is another major industry for counseling careers and includes settings like hospitals, specialty clinics, and day care centers.

Child Daycare Services

Chevron Down

Like school counselors, childcare counselors help create a safe and positive environment that promotes healthy emotional, mental, and physical development. These professionals create daily schedules, supervise children during activities, track progress, and report to parents and supervisors.

Average Salary: $120,130

Home Healthcare Services

Chevron Down

In this setting, counselors typically work with the elderly, helping them maintain physical strength or recover from injury/illness through rehabilitation treatments. They may also oversee programming that educates their clients on important topics like mental health.

Average Salary: $105,440

Outpatient Care Centers

Chevron Down

Outpatient counselors provide care and intervention during day and evening sessions that, unlike residential inpatient programs, allow clients to maintain work and family obligations. These professionals also help their clients create a network of peers and mentors.

Average Salary: $99,870

Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals

Chevron Down

Counselors who work in hospital settings use psychosocial evaluations to determine a patient's mental and physical health. They work with other healthcare professionals to create personalized treatment plans and recommend external services like community-based recovery and outpatient programs.

Average Salary: $86,350

Educational Support Services

Chevron Down

Educational support services refer to institutions that provide training and instruction in a variety of subjects. In this industry, school and career counselors often work for high schools, colleges, and community job centers. They help clients identify academic strengths and find jobs that align with their skills and interests.

Average Salary: $78,610


The employability and salary potential for careers with a counseling degree differ based on factors like individual qualifications, employer/industry, and geographic location.

Due to the sheer vastness of their general populations, California (16,960) and New York (11,030) employ the most clinical, counseling, and school psychology professionals in the U.S. According to Mental Health America, California and New York are also among the best states in terms of providing equitable access to care.

Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists earn the best salaries when working in Oregon, with an annual mean wage of $112,010. California and the District of Columbia are the second and third highest paying locations for professionals in this field.


Interview With a Professional in Counseling

Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Portrait of Molly Bahr

Molly Bahr

Molly Bahr is a licensed mental health counselor with a private practice in Miami, Florida. She focuses primarily on individual therapy for eating disorders, disordered eating, negative body image, anxiety, depression, and trauma. Her work is focused through a health-at-every-size and weight-inclusive lens. For the past three years, she has worked at a Honolulu, Hawaii, clinic specializing in care for transgender individuals. Previously, she worked in New Orleans, Louisiana, at an inpatient eating-disorder unit and an intensive outpatient program for substance use disorders.

Why did you decide to pursue a career as a counselor? Was it something you were always interested in?

Chevron Down

I experienced an event in high school that eventually brought me to therapy, and through that process I was introduced to how incredible this field is. I don't even remember particularly enjoying therapy sessions, but they completely changed my life.

Through that experience and coming to learn how everyone involved in the event was affected differently by it, I became interested in psychology and human behavior. From there, I wanted to help others the way my therapist helped me. And I wanted to better understand our behaviors and emotions.

Many in my graduate program came to the field of counseling psychology as a second career, so it's never too late to begin.

What is so valuable about earning a degree in this field right now?

Chevron Down

Mental health providers are in high demand right now, and we need more representation in the field. As our culture continues to increase discussions around mental health and simultaneously decrease the stigma around it, we will see an even bigger need for therapists.

We are seeing a shift in accepting that mental health and mental illness exist on a spectrum and we all experience symptoms to some degree. Addressing our mental health, no matter the severity of the issue, will likely become more prevalent.

Perhaps in the future, medical insurance will also see the value in counseling as part of overall wellness and prevention for more severe health issues, increasing the demand for more sources of support.

Why did you decide to go into private practice?

Chevron Down

I have always gravitated toward wanting to be my own boss for more choice in my work. Private practice is a way to set your own hours, work with your ideal client/population, make more money, and have less paperwork.

Many in the field are intimidated about the process of building and maintaining a business, partially because there isn't an emphasis in school on how to do this. Some say it's difficult for them to take money or figure out billing, but if private practice interests you, practice what you preach.

Reach out to peers, ask questions, and do some research; everything is "figureoutable."

What did your career trajectory look like after you graduated? How did you end up in your current position?

Chevron Down

I always had an idea of what I wanted to do, but I wanted to make sure I had experience within various settings and populations before I set up a private practice.

After graduation, I was hired by my internship site and I continued to work with substance dependence disorder at an intensive outpatient program. I used this time to learn the ins and outs of a therapy practice (what works and what doesn't), network, collaborate with providers, and strengthen my skills to help prepare me for a private practice.

I have always been interested in working in the eating disorder field, but it can be difficult to get into because there aren't as many clinics or programs focused on it. I jumped at the opportunity to work at an inpatient eating disorder unit when one opened up.

Several peers at the program had private practices on the side and started to guide me on how they were able to do this. With their guidance and support, I started on a small scale to get a feel for it.

You may think you want to work with a certain population or level of care, but when you get there you might not like it at all; that's okay, it's just information.

When I relocated out of state, I decided to start with a group practice. This can be a great option for people just starting out or for those who don't want to work in an office alone. This work is already somewhat isolating, so working with peers can be a great way to prevent burnout.

Collaborating and peer consultation is so important in our work, and I find group practices are a great way to stay connected and be supported. They are set up in a variety of ways, and it's up to the clinicians to decide what's in their best interest at the time -- or if a solo practice is a better fit.

What are the pros and cons of working in the industry?

Chevron Down

Pros: This can be incredibly rewarding and meaningful work. I find myself challenged, inspired, and learning something new every day. I often think about how lucky I am to get to hear and witness so many stories, triumphs, and lessons learned. There are times I even learn something about myself I wouldn't have otherwise thought of. I am grateful to be chosen as someone's safe place to process, share, and grow.

Cons: We're humans and can feel a lot of different emotions when it comes to our clients and what they're going through. It can be difficult to see someone you care for go through incredibly painful experiences, even though you know it's human to go through challenges and experience painful emotions.

We get to see a side of our clients that not everyone gets to see, including the clients themselves. It can be hard when the client doesn't yet see how incredible they are and how much they matter. If only we had magic wands sometimes.

This may be an unpopular and often unspoken opinion, but it is important that we start to look at how we can change the realities of becoming a licensed therapist. We don't always practice what we preach or take care of our own as we should.

Unpaid internships, low starting salaries, poor benefits, and expensive licenses/training can make it difficult to become a therapist or have more diversity in the field. We can do better.

What advice would you give to recent graduates seeking a job in counseling after graduation?

Chevron Down

The advice given to me was to get a challenging internship and get as much experience and supervision as you can. Not only will you become more skilled and build your confidence, but you will also learn what you gravitate to and what fills your bucket.

Most people go into this field wanting to help others, and in order for us to do that, we have to be sure we're taking care of ourselves. Ideally, we will find a job that fits our preferences, supports self-care, respects boundaries, and is something we enjoy doing.

You matter! Your needs are important. Listen to your gut. You won't be as effective a therapist if you aren't living in line with your values.

We tend to be people pleasers and have a hard time saying "no." On top of that, early career therapists are sometimes prone to burnout for a variety of reasons. If this position isn't a good fit for you, it's okay to change. Consider what you'd recommend to a client in this position.

Resources for Counseling Majors

In this section, you will discover the resources needed to advance your career in counseling. These resources include influential books, scientific journals, and academic publications. You will also learn about free MOOCs, many of which lead to certificates of completion and/or college credit.

Additionally, the following section contains a list of professional counseling organizations.

Professional Organizations

Chevron Down

American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy: AAMFT supports over 50,000 members and advocates for public policy change at the state and federal levels. Members connect through topical interest networks and geographic engagement programs. The association also facilitates leadership symposiums and research-oriented conferences. Additional resources include online training courses, minority fellowship programs, and job connections.

American Counseling Association: ACA is the world's largest professional organization for counselors. The association operates a vast knowledge center that provides information on professional competencies, ethical standards, and licensure requirements. Members access continuing education classes and webinars through a professional development center. The association also offers internship/practicum opportunities and job listings.

American Psychological Association: A leading professional and research organization for the psychological sciences, APA serves over 118,000 members and delivers comprehensive academic guidance, helping students plan their undergraduate and graduate education. The association provides in-depth career support, including job listings and internship opportunities with partner organizations. APA also offers professional development tools and support for early career psychologists.

American School Counselor Association: Founded in 1952, ASCA supports school counselors of all experience levels in many professional settings. Members connect through state/territory associations and special interest networks. They can also stay current on emerging trends and challenges in the field by accessing ASCA's vast catalog of publications. The association delivers a full suite of professional development resources, including a webinar series, site-based training classes, and specialist training programs.

American Society of Addiction Medicine: ASAM serves more than 6,000 physicians, clinicians, and related professionals in the addiction medicine field. The society advocates for governmental change and establishes definitions for addiction and treatment services. Members benefit from clinical resources and fellowship programs. They can also access certification guidance and online learning tools. ASAM operates a career center that provides job listings and job search tips.

Association for Behavioral Analysis International: Established in 1974, ABAI advances the teaching, philosophy, science, and application of behavioral analysis. The association connects professionals through local chapters and online special interest groups. ABAI provides accreditation for academic programs and supports students throughout their undergraduate and graduate programs. Members can apply for open positions and network with employers through a career portal. The association also delivers online courses and curates a library of research publications.

National Association of School Psychologists: NASP serves over 25,000 school psychologists in 26 countries. Students can seek guidance about selecting a graduate program and obtaining certification/licensure. The association also offers information and resources for career entry, skill development, certification guidance, and mentorship programs for early career professionals.

National Commission for Health Education Credentialing: NCHEC establishes professional standards for health education specialists and strengthens the workforce through training and certification. The commission operates two voluntary credentialing programs: certified education specialist and master certified health education specialist. Members can access exam preparation materials and apply for scholarships. NCHEC also provides continuing education opportunities that help health educators maintain their certification.

Society of Addiction Psychology: A division of APA, SoAP supports clinical practitioners, researchers, and educators working within the broad spectrum of addictive behaviors. The society offers in-depth information on assessment and treatment, evidence-based practices on addiction, and the opioid crisis. Students and early career psychologists benefit from research grants and credentialing scholarships. Members can connect through group email lists and annual conventions.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, SAMHSA leads the national effort on improving public and behavioral health. The administration offers diverse practitioner training in areas such as suicide prevention, eating disorders, and substance abuse. SAMHSA funds grants for programs and individual professionals.

Open Courseware

Chevron Down

Addiction Treatment - Yale University: In this introductory class, seven instructors from various disciplines teach students how to identify substance abuse risk and gauge the severity of an individual's drug use. Students also learn to oversee treatment plans and help their patients access external treatment services. The course takes 14 hours to complete. Upon completion, learners obtain a shareable certificate.

Autism Spectrum Disorder - University of California, Davis: Students who take this course delve into the fundamentals of ASD, including diagnosis methodologies and primary impairment areas. They analyze how sensory/motor and developmental differences can impact everyday life, focusing on the transition to college and employment. The class also examines the U.S. system of care and how providers implement evidence-based practices.

Integrative Health and Medicine Specialization - University of Minnesota Twin Cities: By completing this four-course specialization, students can jumpstart their integrative health and counseling career. Covered topics include herbal medicine, clinical use of essential oils, and evidence-based therapeutic techniques. Students also learn how to use imagery interventions to manage a patient's symptoms and hasten healing.

Social Work Practice with Individuals, Families, and Small Groups - University of Michigan: This course is ideal for counseling professionals who want to transition into careers as licensed social workers. The course emphasizes multiculturalism and diversity within a social justice framework. Students explore all four stages of social work practice intervention and learn how to evaluate a client's strengths and weaknesses relative to core characteristics like age, gender, and family structure.


Chevron Down

Counseling Today: An official publication of the American Counseling Association, this journal offers up-to-date coverage on state and federal regulation, developments in the profession, and effective strategies/techniques. Counselors can also access wellness and career advancement resources.

Journal of Addictions & Offender Counseling: This open-access publication delivers peer-reviewed articles centering on tested programs and techniques for the treatment of adolescents and adults. Readers can also learn about the behaviors of addictions and substance abuse counselors. The journal accepts submissions and maintains a jobs board through the Wiley Job Network.

Journal of Counseling & Development: The Journal of Counseling & Development is the flagship publication of the American Counseling Association. Content includes research, theories, and practices across 18 counseling specialty areas and professional settings. The open-access format allows users to read and download articles on topics such as mental health personal growth initiatives and training strategies for at-risk youth.

Journal of Mental Health Counseling: The American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) established this quarterly publication in 1978. The journal covers topics related to theory, research, practice, and professional guidelines. Recent articles cover topics such as counseling adults with sensory processing disorder, meaning-making in suicide loss support groups, and using neuroscience-informed cognitive-behavior therapy. AMHCA members enjoy free online access.

Patient Education and Counseling: Published by the International Association for Communication in Healthcare, this interdisciplinary journal provides a forum for educators, researchers, and practitioners. Readers can learn about applied and fundamental research findings, as well as organizational issues related to patient care delivery. The publication accepts submissions of up to 4,000 words and prefers works with empirical research.

The Professional Counselor: The official journal of the National Board for Certified Counselors, this open-access publication showcases research and commentary on pertinent topics in the counseling profession and related areas. Readers can access peer-reviewed articles about strengthening the behavioral health workforce and training counselors to work with families of incarcerated individuals.

Frequently Asked Questions About Counseling Careers

Is a degree in counseling worth it?

Yes, if you're interested in helping others address mental health issues, illness, addiction, and other challenges. Licensed counselors help people of all ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds identify and implement solutions to challenges in their lives. The BLS projects 12% job growth in community and social services positions between 2019 and 2029.

What kind of jobs can you get with a counseling degree?

The jobs you can get with a counseling degree depend on your degree level and academic focus. With a bachelor's degree, you can work as a correctional treatment specialist or mental health and substance abuse case manager, for example. By earning a graduate degree, you can pursue a career as a licensed counselor, clinical therapist, or postsecondary teacher.

How much do counseling majors make?

Salary potential for careers in counseling differs greatly based on education, employer and industry, and location. According to BLS data, community and social services professionals earn a median annual salary of $46,090.

Read More About Counseling on BestColleges 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.

Compare Your School Options

View the most relevant schools for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to finding your college home.