Top Counseling Careers

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See What Counseling Professionals Do

Though all counselors work with people to overcome challenges in their lives, most ultimately focus on a particular population or issue.

Explore Popular Counseling Specializations

Research the salary ranges, education requirements, and job duties for the most common counseling specialties.

Professional organization websites

Take advantage of the positive job outlook for counselors and search job boards run by professional organizations.

Niche Career Websites

Focus your job search by using websites specializing in employment opportunities for counselors.

See What Counseling Professionals Do

Counseling is a broad field with a variety of specializations that determine what professional counselors do, whom they treat, and where they work. However, regardless of specialization, all counselors help others overcome challenges in their lives by developing personal relationships with their clients, in addition to offering advice to help them meet their educational or career goals. They also work with children or adults in schools, career centers, clinics, mental health facilities, and hospitals or other healthcare facilities.

While most counselors work one on one with clients, family counselors work with couples or entire families to reconcile differences and encourage healthy communication. Group counselors work with specific populations and lead therapeutic group activities. Lastly, the field of counseling education consists of professors and those interested in furthering counseling research and best practice. These fields can be broken up into even further specializations, all of which lead to diverse careers with differing educational and training requirements.

Explore Popular Counseling Specializations

Below you will find the most popular counseling careers, their job outlooks and average salaries, as well as educational requirements.

Individual Counseling

Counselors specializing in individual counseling work one on one with their clients, getting to know them on a personal basis so that they can understand their problems or struggles and give personalized advice and guidance. You should consider this specialization if you prefer working in depth with clients one at a time to help them deal with personal struggles such as depression, addiction, and school or career difficulties. Example careers include mental health counseling and rehabilitation counseling.

School Counselor

Projected national job growth: 19%

Average salary: $53,380/year

Entry-level education: Master’s degree

Job description: School counselors work in private and public schools, where they provide guidance for children and adolescents from kindergarten to 12th grade. They help young people deal with problems or changes at school and at home, in addition to meeting with their parents if they have behavioral problems.

Why would I want to do this? Choose to become a school counselor if you are skilled at communicating with children and are interested in child development and psychology. You will be working at a primary or secondary school during regular school hours and advising children and teenagers of various ages to help them develop good study habits, develop socially with their peers, and choosea college or career. You should pursue this career if you want to make a difference in children’s lives.

Mental Health Counselor

Projected national job growth: 37%

Average salary: $39,710/year

Entry-level education: Master’s degree

Job description: Mental health counselors diagnose emotional and mental disorders and help patients develop coping skills and restore their mental health. They work in mental health clinics, hospitals, colleges and universities, or in private practice.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue a career as a mental health counselor if you possess strong active listening skills and are interested in exploring the causes of mental and emotional problems such as depression, anxiety, stress, or grief. You can expect to monitor patients to ensure their safety and document their symptoms and progress throughout the treatment process.

Career Counselor

Projected national job growth: 19%

Average salary: $53,380/year

Entry-level education: Master’s degree

Job description: Career counselors work in schools, college career centers, and job placement agencies, where they advise young people or adults in choosing a career or changing their existing one.

Why would I want to do this? Choose to become a career counselor if you are skilled at understanding the strengths of others and matching their strengths and interests with the right career path. In addition to providing career and educational information, you can expect to use assessment tools, such as personality and interest tests, to help people make informed career choices.

Rehabilitation Counselor

Projected national job growth: 28%

Average salary: $32,350/year

Entry-level education: Master’s degree

Job description: Rehabilitation counselors work with people who have suffered an accident and need to adjust to a physical disability. They help those who have long-term mental or physical disabilities lead independent lives.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue a career in rehabilitation counseling if you have the ability to motivate others and want to help clients see their capacity for recovery. You can expect to create treatment plans and consult with a team of doctors and physical, occupational, and speech therapists. You will also contact outside referral agencies and assist clients during their job placement process.

Behavioral Counselor

Projected national job growth: 27%

Average salary: $38,120/year

Entry-level education: Associate’s degree

Job description: Behavioral counselors treat clients with emotional and behavioral disorders such as anorexia, depression, phobias, anxiety, OCD, or ADHD. They work with children, teenagers, or adults and their families to address the underlying issues causing their disorders.

Why would I want to do this? Choose a career as a behavioral counselor if you are perceptive and interested in helping others by discovering and treating the root causes of various behavioral disorders. You will be working with clients from a wide range of backgrounds, and you can expect to create customized treatment plans and evaluate clients’ progress throughout their treatment, making adjustments depending on their results.

Trauma and Disaster Mental Health Counselor

Projected national job growth: 37%

Average salary: $39,710/year

Entry-level education: Master’s degree

Job description: Trauma and disaster counselors help victims of natural or manmade disasters or personal trauma cope with mental health issues that arise from these experiences, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).

Why would I want to do this? Choose to become a trauma and disaster counselor if you demonstrate composure in crisis situations and if you would enjoy guiding others through the most stressful moments of their lives. You can expect to work with victims of violence or survivors of conflict areas, or help professionals who regularly experience trauma, such as emergency workers and soldiers, as they adjust to living normal lives once their service is over. You will work in a clinic, hospital, or at the scene of an emergency, and can expect to conduct group sessions to help survivors support each other You can also choose to become a Certified Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Volunteer.

Sexual Abuse Counselor

Projected national job growth: 37%

Average salary: $39,710/year

Entry-level education: Master’s degree

Job description: Sexual abuse counseling is a subset of trauma and disaster counseling that deals specifically with child and adult victims of sexual violence, molestation, and rape.

Why would I want to do this? Choose a career in sexual abuse counseling if you have strong empathetic skills and the resilience to regularly listen to explicit details of sexual violence. You will help victims of sexual violence and trauma confront their experience and go through the process of recovery so they can develop healthy sexuality and lead normal lives. In this specialization you will assist victims of all ages who have been sexually mistreated, including children who have been abused, and you will often work with law enforcement to help convict sexual perpetrators.

Credit Counselor

Projected national job growth: 3%

Average salary: $43,670/year

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree, financial background.

Job description: Credit counselors educate and provide guidance for individuals or institutions that are seeking credit for various reasons. They help others manage their debt and choose loans, and advise them on repayment strategies.

Why would I want to do this? Become a credit counselor if you are good with money and managing debt, and are interested in finance or business. This is a great profession if you are knowledgeable about different types of loans and lines of credit and can explain complex financial products to laypersons. You can expect to interview clients, assessing debt, income, and credit history in order to establish budgets and financial plans.

Genetic Counselor

Projected national job growth: 14 – 19%

Average salary: $63,000/year

Entry-level education: Master’s degree

Job description: Genetic counselors understand a variety of mental and physical disorders that have a genetic basis and explain these disorders to patients or the parents of children with genetic disorders.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue a career as a genetic counselor if you excel in science and have well-developed interpersonal skills for communicating with clients about sensitive issues such as rare diseases and family medical history. You should have an interest in medicine and a desire to help patients and their families cope with genetic disorders such as autism or cancer. As a genetic counselor, you will explain the genetic causes of different conditions, being careful not to assign blame to parents. You will also explain how this disorder or syndrome will affect the client’s daily life. You should choose this profession if you are able to explain complex medical conditions in simple language and can make patients and their families feel like they are not alone.

Gerontological Counselor

Projected national job growth: 37%

Average salary: $39,710/year

Entry-level education: Master’s degree

Job description: Gerontological counseling is a relatively new and growing field that deals with adult development and aging. Gerontological counselors help older adults and their families adjust to retirement and address fears of death or disease.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue a career as a gerontological counselor if you have the ability to establish a rapport with senior citizens and are genuinely interested in this population. You can expect to help seniors address the mental, physical, and emotional problems that come with aging. You will also help them prepare for and cope with lifestyle adjustments and end-of-life issues, as well as educating their families about this stage of the human lifespan. You will work in retirement communities, healthcare facilities, or in client homes.

LGBT Counselor

Projected national job growth: 37%

Average salary: $39,710/year

Entry-level education: Master’s degree

Job description: LGBT counselors help lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals and their families address any problems related to sexuality and gender identity.

Why would I want to do this? Become an LGBT counselor if you have an understanding of the unique struggles of the LGBT population and have strong communication skills to help gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender children, teenagers, or adults. You can expect to support them during the coming-out process and help them explore issues of identity and establish healthy relationships. You will also work with entire families at the client’s request to help LGBT individuals communicate with their family members in a healthy manner while encouraging support and acceptance from parents or other family members. You can also lead groups to encourage mutual support among members of the LGBT community.

Religion and Spirituality Counselor

Projected national job growth: 27%

Average salary: $38,120/year

Entry-level education: Associate’s degree

Job description: Religion and spirituality counselors address questions and issues that individuals or families have when dealing with matters such as faith, doctrine, or agnosticism.

Why would I want to do this? Choose a career as a religious counselor if you are a spiritual person and want to help others explore their spiritual issues and answer questions about such topics as the afterlife and morality. Religious counselors often ascribe to a specific faith, such as Christianity, and work for that religion’s institutions. However, you can also address others’ spiritual concerns without teaching a specific religion, but rather allowing others to find their own spiritual paths.

Marriage and Family Counseling

Marriage or couples counselors provide therapy to married couples and domestic partners to address and solve conflicts that have arisen as a result of the relationship or external circumstances. They also specialize in family counseling, treating several members of a family in group therapy sessions and meeting with each family member individually. They address such problems as sibling conflict, parenting problems, or deaths in the family and help entire families address major changes such as moves or a loss or addition of a family member.

Marriage Counselor

Projected national job growth: 37%

Average salary: $39,710/year

Entry-level education: Master’s degree

Job description: Marriage counselors specialize in addressing problems that arise for married couples or those in long-term relationships. They may work with one or both people in the relationship.

Why would I want to do this? Choose a career as a marriage counselor if you are able to be objective in heated situations and can help each partner understand the other’s perspective. This is a good career choice if your professional interest lies in the dynamics of relationships. You can expect to lead couples in individual and group exercises to facilitate open communication. You will also lead couples through the healing process after affairs and major life events, and you will have the opportunity to play a role in preventing divorce.

Family Therapist

Projected national job growth: 37%

Average salary: $39,710/year

Entry-level education: Master’s degree

Job description: Family therapists or counselors work with entire families to resolve temporary problems such as grief over the loss of a loved one or long-term issues between siblings or parents and children.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue a career as a family therapist if you are good at mediating and if you are interested in family dynamics and the issues that arise between family members. You can expect to encourage family members to develop and use constructive methods of problem resolution. You will use methods such as interviewing and testing clients to gather information and help individual family members see detrimental behaviors.

Addictions Counselor

Projected national job growth: 27%
Average salary: $38,120/year

Entry-level education: Associate’s degree

Job description: Addictions counselors conduct group sessions for people dealing with similar addictions to substances such as alcohol or various drugs. They encourage their clients to help each other overcome their addictions and support each other.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue a career in substance abuse counseling if you are patient, understand the complexities of addiction, and want to work with people who have substance abuse problems, as well as other addictions such as overeating or sex addiction. You will teach addicts to recognize patterns in their behavior and explore triggers to relapse, as well as help them establish a support system for recovery. You can work with groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, where groups of recovering addicts meet on a regular basis and share their stories. You will collaborate with doctors or social workers to help improve various aspects of the lives of people with substance abuse problems, such as their housing situation or drug treatments.

Military Mental Health Counselor

Military Mental Health Counselor
Projected national job growth: 37%

Average salary: $39,710/year

Entry-level education: Master’s degree

Job description: Military mental health counselors help soldiers and other military personnel deal with traumas and mental disorders that result from the experience of being in conflict situations.

Why would I want to do this? Become a military mental health counselor if you are interested in the psychology of combat and want to help veterans adjust to civilian life and active soldiers address mental health issues such as aggression, PTSD, insomnia, and related disorders. It is also beneficial to have experience in the military and familiarity with helping victims of violence and disasters. You can expect to work with groups of active or former military personnel and encourage them to share their stories in order to work out their issues together.

Counseling Education

Counselors with many years of experience in the professional world shift to education in order to share their experiences and advice to future generations of counselors. They can teach courses in their specialization as well as on counseling in general, using cases they have encountered to demonstrate counseling methods. Counseling professors work in colleges and universities.

Counseling Professor

Projected national job growth: 17%

Average salary: $62,050/year

Entry-level education: PhD

Job description: Counseling professors impart knowledge about various aspects of the counseling profession to students at the undergraduate or graduate level.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue a career as a counseling professor if you have strong communication and teaching skills, at least several years of experience in professional counseling, and have a desire to teach others. You can expect to coach counseling students in methodology, lead group exercises to supplement lecture material, and grade literature reviews and other student papers.

Counseling Researcher

Projected national job growth: 15%

Average salary: $107,500/year

Entry-level education: PhD

Job description: Counseling researchers provide assessment of current counseling theory and promote best practices in order to advance the counseling profession.

Why would I want to do this? Choose educational research if you are detail-oriented and enjoy research methodology. You can expect to conduct scientific research through clinical trials on the effectiveness of different counseling methods in order to update counseling education programs and standards for licensing and certification. You may work for an academic institution, a counseling organization, or a think tank.

Apply to Jobs Using These Resources

The overall job outlook for counselors is encouraging, and there are diverse job opportunities to choose from around the country. Take advantage of the counseling jobs resources we have compiled below to find a counseling job in your specialization and location.

Professional Organization Websites

One of the best places to look for counseling jobs is the job listing databases on the websites of professional counseling organizations. These listings are especially intended for professional counselors and only feature counseling jobs.

American Counseling Association – This job board is maintained by one of the top professional counseling organizations in the U.S. and is divided by clinical and academic positions.

American Mental Health Counselors Association – This association site allows members to post resumés and search for jobs in mental health counseling by keyword.

American Psychological Association – The career section of the APA website lists a variety of jobs in the broad field of psychology, including counseling.

American Psychotherapy Association – The jobs listed on this association website are intended for psychotherapists and those in similar counseling professions.

Western Association for College Admission Counseling – The job board of the WACAC posts available jobs for school and career counselors at high schools and colleges throughout the country.

American Association of Pastoral Counselors – The job board of the AAPC lists current jobs available in pastoral or Christian counseling.

Niche Career Websites

Unlike general job sites, these specialized career websites provide job listings only related to counseling, psychology, and similar professions, making it easier for you to find a career in your specialization.

Positions in Counseling Centers – The aim of this website is to list jobs available in university and college counseling centers for school or career counselors.

Psychology Jobs– PsychologyJobs.com offers job listings in all categories of psychology and includes a separate section devoted to counseling jobs.

SocialService.com – SocialService.com lists jobs in the fields of social work, social service, and mental health from around the country.

HigherEd Jobs – This site lists positions in higher education, including career and school counseling positions at colleges and universities around the country.

GoodTherapy.org – The Good Therapy site offers job listings in the counseling and therapy fields.

Government Job Boards

The national and state governments employ counselors in a variety of fields, such as mental health or trauma counseling in the military or in emergency situations. You can use the links below to search specifically for jobs in public service.

Department of Veterans Affairs – This government site lists jobs around the country serving U.S. veterans returning home from service.

USAJOBS – This website is the official job search engine for all federal government positions and allows you to search by occupation and location.

US.Jobs – Administered by a nonprofit, US.Jobs lists thousands of public and private sector jobs from state and national job banks, as well as company websites.

General Job Sites

General career websites offer listings on jobs in every field. They are a good place to start your search for counseling careers, as they will give you a good idea of typical salaries and availability.

Indeed.com – One of the largest job search engines, Indeed.com compiles a wide array of jobs from various websites and allows you to search by keyword and location.

CareerBuilder.com – This site offers a database of jobs in all fields, which you can narrow down through zip code and keywords for your specialization.

Monster.com – Monster.com is one of the most popular career search engines and allows users to create profiles and upload resumés for better job matches.

Job-Hunt.org – In addition to a variety of job listings, this site provides tips and additional resources that can help make your search for a job easier and more effective.

SimplyHired.com – This site searches company job boards and classifieds to allow users to find a diverse range of jobs that may be hard to find otherwise.

LinkUp.com – LinkUp posts jobs listed from company websites, and is ideal if you are searching for a job at a larger corporation or company.

TweetMyJobs.com – This innovative site aggregates job listings posted to Twitter and allows users to search for jobs based on industry and location.

LinkedIn – LinkedIn is a social network designed for working professionals to make connections that could lead to career opportunities.

HotJobs – HotJobs is a job search engine that allows you to search for jobs by keyword and location and to post your resumé for potential employers.

Craigslist – Though it’s not just a job board, the employment section of Craigslist can be helpful for finding local jobs in larger cities.