Counseling is one career path in the field of mental health worth considering if you have a strong desire to help people, so if this sounds like the type of role you might be good at, find out how to become a licensed counsellor.
What is a counsellor?
Anyone can offer advice to those in need, but although your advice might be very helpful and pertinent to the situation, the only way you can become a licensed counsellor is by following the correct career progression and obtaining certification. Counsellors have the opportunity to work in a number of different environments and the diversity of the job is an aspect that attracts many people to the profession. Once you become a licensed counsellor, you can work in schools, jails, family centres, and even in private practice if you choose.
Essential information on how to become a licensed counsellor
In order to achieve certification as a licensed counsellor, you will need to gain a masters or doctoral degree in psychology, counselling, or a related field such as social work or medicine. You would be expected to study a wide range of subjects, including human behavioural theory, counselling theory and techniques, social, cultural and family issues.
Degree coursework is very important for anyone wishing to apply for certification as a counsellor. Coursework requirements will vary, but you would normally be expected to have at least sixty hours of relevant coursework under your belt before you can apply for a license as a professional counsellor.
How to become a licensed counsellor in the US
Requirements will vary according to which state you live in, so it is worth checking the individual requirements before you start your career path. In general, the degree course you take should include practical experience in counselling, including a set number of hours of direct contact with clients, a figure that will vary between states. This must be credited on your degree transcript.
It is important to realise that any work experience undertaken as an intern might not be a paid position, so if you are considering your changing career path or you have a family to support, you may need financial assistance for up to two years while you gain your essential work experience.
After graduation, you will be expected to undertake an internship to gain further practical experience working with clients; this work experience will be closely supervised at all times. Once you have clocked up the necessary hours, you can apply to sit your state’s licensing exam and qualify for a license to practice as a professional counsellor.
Are job prospects good for licensed counsellors?
In general, the greater the level of educational qualification you achieve, the better your job prospects, so if you choose to become a licensed counsellor, you can expect a positive job outlook and above average salary expectations. Qualified and licensed counsellors are always in demand. In particular, people working in the field of substance abuse and mental health are particularly in demand as there are always job vacancies in prisons and treatment programmes.