What is a Counselor

While there are several different types of counselors, in general they spend their time helping people overcome and understand specific problems. Although, not every counselor is going to have a couch, as depicted by TV, most do work in private office settings.

The scope of the types of counselors seems to be never-ending. From school counselors to family and marriage counselors, and even mental health counselors, people who go into this field have a range of what area they want to focus on.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a counselor. For example, did you know that they make an average of $18.06 an hour? That's $37,562 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 8% and produce 27,200 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Counselor Do

There are certain skills that many counselors have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed analytical skills, compassion and listening skills.

Learn more about what a Counselor does

How To Become a Counselor

If you're interested in becoming a counselor, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 58.6% of counselors have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 17.7% of counselors have master's degrees. Even though most counselors have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a counselor. When we researched the most common majors for a counselor, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor's degree degrees or master's degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on counselor resumes include associate degree degrees or high school diploma degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a counselor. In fact, many counselor jobs require experience in a role such as internship. Meanwhile, many counselors also have previous career experience in roles such as cashier or volunteer.

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Average Salary
$37,562
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
8%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
58,761
Job Openings
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Counselor Career Paths

Top Careers Before Counselor

Top Careers After Counselor

Counselor Jobs You Might Like

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Average Salary for a Counselor

Counselors in America make an average salary of $37,562 per year or $18 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $55,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $25,000 per year.
Average Salary
$37,562
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Counselor Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Counselor. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Counselor Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Counselor resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Counselor Resume Examples And Templates

Counselor Demographics

Counselor Gender Statistics

female

58.3 %

male

36.5 %

unknown

5.2 %

Counselor Ethnicity Statistics

White

68.2 %

Black or African American

15.6 %

Hispanic or Latino

9.4 %

Counselor Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics

Spanish

62.8 %

French

10.4 %

Italian

3.0 %
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Counselor Education

Counselor Majors

Counselor Degrees

Bachelors

58.6 %

Masters

17.7 %

Associate

11.3 %

Top Colleges for Counselors

1. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

2. California State University - Long Beach

Long Beach, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$6,798
Enrollment
31,503

3. Boston College

Chestnut Hill, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,464
Enrollment
9,639

4. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

5. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

6. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,948
Enrollment
17,238

7. Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,740
Enrollment
5,567

8. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

9. Fordham University

Bronx, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$52,687
Enrollment
9,392

10. Washington University in St Louis

Saint Louis, MO • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,399
Enrollment
7,356
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Online Courses For Counselor That You May Like

Addiction & Mental Health (Dual Diagnosis) Integrative 12hrs
udemy
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Substance Abuse & Mental Health Interventions: Drug & Alcohol Addiction & Mental Health - Integrative Holistic Approach...

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Learn how to support your own mental health and wellbeing and that of your staff...

Assessing and Improving Community Health
coursera

This course is intended to serve as an introduction to population health from both the vantage point of both public health and healthcare. We will examine the key components of community health needs assessments, how they are used, and how to compare population health assessments across subpopulations and time. We will also explore the epidemiological sources and criteria by which to select high quality data sources to estimate population health indicators and to select evidence-based interventi...

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Top Skills For a Counselor

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 11.2% of counselors listed crisis intervention on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and compassion are important as well.

  • Crisis Intervention, 11.2%
  • Substance Abuse, 9.8%
  • Counselors, 6.8%
  • Group Therapy, 6.4%
  • Treatment Plans, 6.4%
  • Other Skills, 59.4%
  • See All Counselor Skills

12 Counselor RESUME EXAMPLES

Best States For a Counselor

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a counselor. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, Hawaii, California, and Washington. Counselors make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $57,262. Whereas in Hawaii and California, they would average $52,006 and $47,023, respectively. While counselors would only make an average of $46,202 in Washington, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Washington

Total Counselor Jobs:
592
Highest 10% Earn:
$75,000
Location Quotient:
1.2
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Arizona

Total Counselor Jobs:
509
Highest 10% Earn:
$80,000
Location Quotient:
1.29
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Oregon

Total Counselor Jobs:
270
Highest 10% Earn:
$77,000
Location Quotient:
0.97
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Counselors

How Do Counselor Rate Their Jobs?

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2.0

Drowning in paperworkApril 2019

2.0

Zippia Official LogoDrowning in paperworkApril 2019

What do you like the most about working as Counselor?

Change agent when people are stuck and need support in the process of restoration. One on one and group processing is powerful. Show More

What do you NOT like?

The over documentation required by DHS that robs the quality time needed in intervention and treatment. This lopsided demand makes the term “best practices” mere bureaucratic lip service without the means to actually deliver quality hands on services. Show More

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Top Counselor Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ counselors and discovered their number of counselor opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that YMCA of Greater Indianapolis was the best, especially with an average salary of $46,663. CampCo follows up with an average salary of $32,394, and then comes The Salvation Army with an average of $35,381. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a counselor. The employers include Anthem, Leidos, and The Wonderful Company

Counselor Videos

Counselor FAQs

Can you be a counselor without a degree?

Yes, you can become a counselor without a degree. While some counseling careers require degrees at the bachelor, master, or doctorate levels, there is a way to work as a counselor without a degree.

The most common options include:

  • Peer counselor: A peer counselor uses their personal experiences with mental health, life traumas, or substance abuse to provide guidance to someone currently going through a similar situation.

  • Life skills counselor: Life skills counselors help clients address personal or professional issues and help them develop methods to overcome them. This could include family-related incidents, current work situations, and other circumstances.

  • Drug and alcohol counselor: A drug and alcohol counselor works specifically with clients who want to overcome a drug or alcohol addiction. Some states require a degree, so be sure to check your state guidelines before pursuing a drug and alcohol counselor certification.

If you're interested in becoming a counselor and do not have a college degree, you should consider certifications. There are a variety of colleges, universities, and professional institutions that offer certifications online for counselors without degrees.

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Do counselors make good money?

Yes, counselors make good money. The average salary for a counselor is around $56,310 per year ($25.54 an hour).

The range in earning for a counselor, however, can range from as low as $16 an hour to as high as $42 an hour -- factors such as experience, type of counselor, and location all impact earning potential.

Years of experience and earning potential for a counselor:

  • Entry Level (zero to one year of experience) averages $43,900 a year

  • An Early Level (one to four years of experience) averages $46,400 a year

  • Mid Level (five to nine years of experience) averages $51,630 a year

  • Experienced (over ten years of experience) - $58,700 a year

Type of counselor and earning potential.

  • School Counselor

    • Entry level - $43,900 a year

    • Early career - $46,400 a year

    • Mid career - $51,630 a year

    • Experienced - $58,700 a year

  • Career Counselor

    • Entry level - $40,500 a year

    • Early career - $43,410 a year

    • Mid career - $46,890 a year

    • Experienced - $49,650 a year

  • Mental Health Counselor

    • Entry level - $39,190 a year

    • Early career - $40,970 a year

    • Mid career - $45,530 a year

    • Experienced - $49,180 a year

  • Addiction Counselor

    • Entry level - $37,980 a year

    • Early career - $39,110 a year

    • Mid career - $38,630 a year

    • Experienced - $41,970 a year

Examples of varying pay rates by states for counselors.

  • California - $37.62 an hour ($78,250 a year)

  • Connecticut - $31.68 an hour ($65,890 a year)

  • Massachusetts - $32.94 an hour ($68,520 a year)

  • Oklahoma - $22.34 an hour ($46,480 a year)

  • South Dakota - $21.44 an hour ($44,590 a year)

  • Missouri - $24.13 an hour ($50,180 a year)

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How many years does it take to be a counselor?

It takes between two to six years to become a counselor.

Paths to a counselor.

  • No degree, at least three+ years of experience working and being mentored/learning the practice. Complete practicum and/or internship hours. Gain real-life experience in the field.

    • Peer counselor

    • Life skills counselor

    • Drug and alcohol counselor

  • Complete a four-year bachelor's degree. A bachelor's degree is typically required for most counseling professions.

  • Complete a six-year master's degree program in counseling. Although not always required, online master's in counseling degree programs help aspiring counselors obtain the professional skills and knowledge necessary for practice.

  • Obtain counseling licensure and/or certification. Meet the specific requirements for your state. The process of obtaining licensure varies from state to state, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the terms.

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What is the difference between a counselor and a therapist?

The main difference between a counselor and a therapist has to do with education, training, licenses, and treatment plans.

Counselors and therapists are umbrella terms that often refer to mental health professionals who offer counseling or therapy. It's not uncommon to refer to counseling treatments as therapy and vice-versa.

A therapist must be licensed in the states they practice and so require more education, usually at a doctorate level. Whereas a counselor sometimes requires a high school diploma and a strong motivation to help others.

Therapists typically work with more complex issues than counselors, including past experiences and how they influence your current behavior and mental health. However, in some cases, these specializations can overlap significantly.

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