How to Be a Counselor

The Counselor Job Overview:

A counselor is a person who helps people (individually or in a group) through difficult situations such as trauma, grief, therapy or physiological issues such as depression, anxiety, etc. A counselor is oftentimes some who can reflect a person's thoughts and feelings back to them in a safe and private environment that allows the person being counseled to better be able to deal with life changing problems or situations.

Education Needed to be a Counselor:

There are many different levels of counselors and many different requirements based upon country or state regulations, so a basic educational requirement is impossible to give. For a counselor who works in a position that requires no medical knowledge or credentials such as a marriage counselor or family counselor no educational requirements are needed, though a degree or certificate in psychology, basic counseling, etc. would be helpful in being a more effective counselor and in acquiring a job as further education or a specific degree will put a person on the top of the application pile. For counseling positions such as an addictions counselor or behavioral disorder counseling , a two year degree is required as well as a license to work as an addictions counselor. For counselors who wish to work in a more professional and medically based career such as a mental health counselor, rehabilitation counselor, etc. a Master's degree is traditionally needed as well as a final examination to be licensed to work in that particular field. Traditionally for counselors working in positions that require a two year degree or more an internship working as a counselor is needed to complete and the educational requirements and to be licensed.

Other Requirements to be a Counselor:

A counselor needs to be someone who has good communication skills and is able to put a patient at ease and build a trusting relationship with them. They must be patient, tolerant, non-judgmental, sensitive to the feelings and thoughts of others and self-aware enough to reflect their own feelings, thoughts and emotions back to the patient. Additionally a counselor is more effective if they are personally affected by their counseling specialty such as an addictions counselor who has in the past been addicted to a substance and has overcome the issue and wants to help others do the same.

Advancement as a Counselor:

In most situations room for advancement is limited as generally a counselor is either self-employed with their own counseling business or the only counselor in the company/department/organization, etc. There are situations where a counselor can take on a more supervisory or managerial position in companies or organizations build around counseling such as counseling hotlines, counseling medical practices, etc.

Future Prospect for Jobs as a Counselor:

The job prospects of a counselor is fairly even and has been for several years, so the chances of continuous employment in the future are good, but the likelihood of an employment boom in this particular career field is unlikely.

Expected Salary as a Counselor:

The average salary for a counselor varies based upon things such as the type of position, education and geographical location. For counselor working in marriage or family counseling on average make about $35,000 or £20,000 a year. For those working in a more structured environment such as addictions counseling or behavioral disorder counseling the typical average annual salary is about $30,000 or £17,000. For those who have a master's degree and work in a more medically based capacity the average annual salary is about $42,000 or £24,000

A Day-in-the-Life of a Counselor:

Generally a counselor will spend a typical day in sessions with their patients for a specified amount of time and will typically deal with their specialized subject or expertise such as:

  • Addiction counseling to help substance abusers breaking from the habit
  • Counseling children who have been traumatized by an event or who have behavioral, psychological or physical issues that are affecting their life and that of their family
  • Counseling couples on their marriage and helping them work through their issues


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