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Accredited Online Schools That Offer Counseling Degrees
Licensing, Certifications, and Exams
All counselors must be licensed by their state in order to practice. The process requires a master’s degree and passing scores on at least one or more examinations. Once you have completed all, then you are credentialed and will receive a professional title and initials after your name.
Most common to most counselors is “LPC” for “Licensed Professional Counselor” or sometimes “LAPC” for “Licensed Associate Professional Counselor.” It’s very important to never use a title that is higher than what you have actually earned or been given. Specific info re; each state’s requirements can be found here: Counselor License Requirements by State
All states also require that counselors work under supervision before receiving a full license. You may have a clinical supervisor and administrator at your place of work or it may have to be someone outside the practice. It is suggested you join a professional counseling organization as well.
Additional Resources for Certification information
Provides state-by-state information on specific boards that certify the practice of counseling and is the resource for information about counselor licensing and regulation, test development, and standards for licensing.
Fact: By January 1st, 2022, the NBCC will require a master’s degree (or higher) from a CACREP-accredited counseling program.
Future Outlook for Primary Career
School counselors have a 12% growth rate and earn as much as $50,000 per year. Work-related counselors are also experiencing fast growth in addition to school and career counselors, due to fast growth in technology and the job market. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 20.5 million new jobs will be added by 2020, a 14.3% growth from 2010. Mental health counselors ranked #28 and marriage and family therapists are #18 on the Top 30 Fastest-Growing Jobs by 2020 from the BLS.
Salaries for counselors depend on the organization (whether private practice, community center, school or institution, nonprofit or outreach center) and the level of responsibility and experience of the individual, but in general may range from $25,000 to $80,000-a-year on average. Of course, counselors can make much more than that (well over six figures) in private practice.
The BLS also reports mental health counselors have a median pay of $38,150 in 2010, with continued growth at an increase of 36.3% for jobs in 2020, based on the fact that managed care and insurance companies are providing for reimbursement of counselors as a lower-cost alternative to psychiatrists and psychologists. Marriage and family therapists are also projected to increase 41.2% in 2020 from 2010, earning a median pay of $45,720.
Counselors graduate with an extensive understanding of human relations, psychology, personality types, emotional intelligence, social sciences, careers, education, family dynamics, development (from child to adult to aging), marriage, communication skills and are often excellent negotiators. The skills they obtain through their courses of study and practice could be easily transferred to a variety of business and professional careers, across many industries or roles.
Counselors’ skills include:
- Communication skills
- Mediation skills
- Negotiating skills
- Listening skills
- Emotional intelligence
- Career counseling
- Caregiving skills
- Coping skills
- Health and wellness expertise
- Knowledge of therapies and techniques for mental health
- Individual coaching and group leadership skills
- Motivational skills
- Problem-solving or resolution skills
- Analytical skills
- Educational and training skills
Counseling internships are critical to pursing a professional counseling career and they put students in direct contact with professionals, as well as observe them in their daily work.
The following is a list of internship possibilities for a counseling major:
- Assisting other counselors.
- Assisting in drug rehab or treatment centers.
- Coordinating care plans.
- Serving in nursing homes.
- Assisting veterans.
- Assisting social workers.
- Assisting psychologists.
- Assisting psychiatrists.
- Serving in mental health treatment centers.
- Advocating for patients.
- Assisting college counselors and students.
- Assisting children and adolescents in schools.
- Serving in correctional facilities.
- Serving in hospitals.
- Planning or coordinating special events or conferences in mental health or specific areas of need.
- Editorial assistance for mental health or psychological publications.
- Research assistance.
Suggested Online Degree Programs
- Capella University. CACREP-accredited online master’s program in mental health counseling.
- Liberty University. Offers master’s of arts in professional counseling and considered one of the top five programs in the nation.
- Walden University. Also CACREP-accredited programs in a PhD in counselor education and supervision, an MS in marriage, couple and family counseling and an MS in clinical mental health counseling, all online.
- Post University. A 123-year-old New England university pioneering online education, offering master’s in science in human services and clinical counseling in organizational settings.
- Southern New Hampshire University. Offers a graduate program in community mental health and mental health counseling, combining both online, weekend classroom and field work.
- Wake Forest University. Ranked #27 among the nation’s Best National Universities and #35 for Best Value on US News World Reports.