If you are considering pursuing a career as a counselor, you likely have a strong desire to help other people. Counselors offer support, guidance, and therapy through individual and group sessions to those who are struggling. You may help people of all ages, from very young children through to elderly adults. Depending on the area of counseling your pursue in your career, you may assist those with mental health issues, drug and alcohol dependencies, stress management issues, and more. One of the factors that many people researching this career are interested in is the counselor salary.
The Average Professional Counselor Salary
The salary of a licensed counselor ranges by several factors, such as the type of counselor you are, your education and experience, and the type of facility you choose to work in, to name a few. However, you will find that those who pursue a counseling career will earn approximately $26,000 to $44,000 per year, with a median salary of about $35,000. This is in contrast to the average LCSW salary.
There are some substantial education requirements that you must fulfill before you can begin earning a counselor salary, regardless of the type of counseling you wish to pursue in your career. Each state has its own licensing requirements in place, and you will want to research the licensing requirements for your own state in detail. However, in general, you will find that approximately five to seven years of post-graduate study is required before you can become a licensed counselor. Often, a Master’s degree is required. Many professionals do pursue a Doctoral degree as well. In the case of social workers, many opt to obtain an LCSW degree first.
Your Job Description
The counseling industry is diverse, as there are many different environments and formats in which you may offer support, guidance, and therapy to those in need of your services. You may want to consider the various types of jobs that you can pursue once you become a licensed counselor. The counselor salary will vary slightly depending on which of these career opportunities you decide to pursue:
• Substance Abuse Counselor: This is a professional who offers individual or group therapy to those who are struggling with substance abuse, such as with drugs or alcohol. A substance abuse counselor salary is on the higher end of the spectrum, with the average counselor earning about $39,000 per year. This is a professional who may work in an in-patient or out-patient rehabilitation center, in a hospital, or in similar settings, and is comparable to what a licensed clinical social worker does.
• Guidance Counselor: A guidance counselor typically works in an academic environment, and may offer counseling services to those from young children through adults in a college setting. This is a professional who may offer assistance with strategies for dealing with peers, coping with difficult home life situations, and guidance for selecting future paths such as with careers and college choices, too. The average guidance counselor salary is about $44,000 per year, but this will vary depending on the type of school you work in such as an elementary school versus college setting, as well as the location you choose to work in.
• Camp Counselor: You may consider camp counseling as your career of choice. This is a professional who offers guidance and support to people at a retreat-style setting. The income for this professional will vary based on the type of camp chosen and the counseling services offered on-site. Some camps offer year-round employment, such as weight loss, troubled youth, or rehabilitation camps, to name a few. Salary for these positions may be close to the median salary of counselors. Other camps, such as general summer camps for kids, offer seasonal employment and may offer you hourly compensation that may be lower than average.
• Mental Health Counselors: A career as a mental health counselor may include helping those with substance abuse issues, such as the services an addiction counselor may provide. This professional may also help those coping with stress management issues, suicidal tendencies, depression, and other mental health issues. Professionals in this area of counseling may expect to earn around $44,000.
A Day In The Life: Earning Your Counselor Salary
The above job descriptions are just a few of the many different types of counselor jobs that you can pursue once you have completed the required education requirements and obtained your license. It is interesting to note that the average counselor’s work day is not solely devoted to meeting with people in an individual or group session. Many counselors spend a fair amount of their time taking notes after their sessions, preparing for their next session, and researching counseling related topics such as mental health issues, and more.
Maximizing Your Income
If you are interested in pursuing a compensated counseling career, you may be interested in learning how you can fully maximize your income in this line of work. You should be aware that in most organizations that you may choose to work in, there are work tiers. Often, those in a supervisory role will earn a significantly higher counselor salary than those who work regularly with people in therapy sessions. Keep in mind that the supervisory positions are offered to those with experience in the field, however. Often supervisory positions will still require you to work with people in group or individual therapy sessions, too.
Counseling Versus Psychology
Many who spend time researching a career in counseling may be curious to learn the difference between counseling versus psychology. Generally, these terms are used interchangeably. However, in many cases, a counseling relationship is often considered shorter term in nature than one a psychologist may have with his or her patients. This is not always the case, however.
Given the significant education and licensing requirements in place to work in many areas of counseling, you certainly want to take a moment to consider the career outlook for this job before embarking on this path. The fact is that people will always struggle with issues such as their weight, various addictions, stress management, coping with loss, and more. Once you follow the steps to get licensed in this field, you likely will enjoy tremendous job opportunities for the rest of your working years and will be able to earn a stable counselor salary as a result.