Have you ever wondered how to become a counselor? Common questions center around the main steps needed to become a counselor and if a degree/which degree is required.
There are a few things you may consider before you decide to become a counselor. Ask yourself if this is the path you want to follow. For example, are you fond of psychology and wish to help people during their best and worst times?
You should consider the area of study that you want to specialize in. Luckily, counselors can choose a variety of specialties and career paths, from being a career counselor or a school counselor to mental health. Click here to learn more about grief counselors, if you are interested in that. Consider the typical steps below to learn how you could become a counselor.
The short answer is yes, you will almost definitely need a degree to be a counselor. Depending on the specialty you want to pursue, you might need a doctoral degree, but in most cases, a graduate degree and state licensure is enough to get you started as a counselor.
How to start?
How you start pursuing your counselor’s career depends on when you decide to follow the psychology path. People who are analytical problem-solvers, are interested in the mind, and tend not to be judgmental may consider a career in therapy early on. Taking psychology classes as early as in high school or doing personal reading about the subject could form a strong foundation.
The real requirements to become a counselor start in college. To follow this path you do not necessarily need a degree in psychology, although earning one in the field could benefit your search for a counseling or psychology job.
Not all colleges offer majors, concentrations, or even courses on counseling, so people who know what they want to do may consider choosing a college that does include these options.
Many schools will include psychology or related fields in social sciences as a major. It is advisable to take classes that most closely relate to what you wish to pursue as a career.
What are the steps to become a counselor?
The first step, therefore, is obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Most degrees are accepted, but you are advised to earn a degree in psychology or human services.
The second step is to enroll in a relevant Master’s program that focuses on counseling and psychology licensure. Here, you can identify the area you would like to concentrate your studies; there are many options, such as mental health counseling, family counseling, disordered substance use, child psychology, and others.
Many people prefer to look for programs that have been certified by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). It is extremely important to take your time to thoroughly review and research the program you wish to pursue before enrolling.
By following these processes, you will have the basic education requirements to work as a counselor in the psychology field.
How long does it take?
Taking into consideration that you wish to be a counselor, it usually takes 6 to 7 years to complete all basic requirements, from college to graduate school. It is common to have jobs that require a master’s degree, but you could also pursue a doctoral degree if you wish to become a therapist or even if you wish to receive a higher salary.
To follow a PhD or PsyD, you first need a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, so this path can take longer, around 5 or more years of education after leaving the undergraduate level.
In the United States, job prospects for counselors are good and rising throughout the years. Some specialties are in more demand than others, such as addiction and behavioral disorder counselors, as well as marriage and family counselors. You might wish to take this into consideration before choosing your concentration in graduate school.