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.

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.

Learn More About How To Become a Counselor

Counselor Career Paths

Average Salary for a Counselor

Counselors in America make an average salary of $36,225 per year or $17 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $67,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $19,000 per year.
Average Counselor Salary
$36,225 Yearly
$17.42 hourly
10 %
90 %

What Am I Worth?

How To Become a Counselor
How To Become a Counselor Career Overview

States With The Most Counselor Jobs

Mouse over a state to see the number of active counselor jobs in each state. The darker areas on the map show where counselors earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.

Average Salary: Job Openings:

Number Of Counselor Jobs By State

Counselor Education

Counselor Majors

Counselor Degrees


58.6 %


17.7 %


11.3 %

Top Colleges for Counselors

1. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition

2. California State University - Long Beach

Long Beach, CA • Private

In-State Tuition

3. Boston College

Chestnut Hill, MA • Private

In-State Tuition

4. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

In-State Tuition

5. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition

6. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition

7. Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD • Private

In-State Tuition

8. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition

9. Fordham University

Bronx, NY • Private

In-State Tuition

10. Washington University in St Louis

Saint Louis, MO • Private

In-State Tuition

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, 12.9% of counselors listed patients on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and compassion are important as well.

  • Patients, 12.9%
  • Crisis Intervention, 11.8%
  • Substance Abuse, 11.8%
  • Social Work, 10.1%
  • Community Resources, 4.3%
  • Other Skills, 49.1%

Choose From 10+ Customizable Counselor Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Counselor templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Counselor resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Counselor Demographics

Counselor Gender Distribution


After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among counselors, 61.5% of them are women, while 38.5% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among counselors is White, which makes up 68.2% of all counselors.

  • The most common foreign language among counselors is Spanish at 62.8%.

Work Experience Programs For Counselors

Virtual work experience programs replicate work at top companies and help you gain the skills to be successful when applying and working there. In only a few hours, learn the relevant tools necessary to complete a typical work day at that company. Virtual work experience programs are 100% free, open-access, and self-paced. No experience or application is required!

Agile Program

Company: JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Cost: Free

Duration: 5-6 hours

Client Research and Problem Identification Program

Company: Accenture North America

Cost: Free

Duration: 4-5 hours

Wealth Management Program

Company: Goodbody

Cost: Free

Duration: 5-6 hours

Careers in Government Program

Company: NSW Government Virtual Program

Cost: Free

Duration: 1-2 hours

StartUps for Smarter Cities Program

Company: Sydney School of Entrepreneurship

Cost: Free

Duration: 7-9 hours

Engaging the community Program

Company: Teach for Australia

Cost: Free

Duration: 2 hours

Public Health Policy & Management Program

Company: Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine

Cost: Free

Duration: 5-6 hours

Asset Management Program

Company: JPMorgan Chase

Cost: Free

Duration: 5-6.5 hours

Human Resources Program

Company: General Electric

Cost: Free

Duration: 5-6 hours

Client Service Program

Company: Bloomberg

Cost: Free

Duration: 5-6 hours

Online Courses For Counselor That You May Like

Advertising Disclosure  
Crisis Intervention Seminar

The emphasis is on the development of fundamental clinical skills in the area of crisis intervention...

Addiction & Mental Health (Dual Diagnosis) Integrative 12hrs

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Interventions: Drug & Alcohol Addiction & Mental Health - Integrative Holistic Approach...

Addiction & Mental Health - Chemically Speaking Two (2hrs)

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Interventions - Understand Drug & Alcohol Addiction & Mental Health. How to help people...

Show More Counselor Courses
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Full Time
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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 California, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Counselors make the most in California with an average salary of $41,223. Whereas in Hawaii and New Jersey, they would average $41,191 and $39,911, respectively. While counselors would only make an average of $39,779 in Connecticut, 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. Pennsylvania

Total Counselor Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

2. Connecticut

Total Counselor Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. Massachusetts

Total Counselor Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For Counselors

How Do Counselor Rate Their Jobs?

Zippia Official Logo


Drowning in paperworkApril 2019


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

Working as a Counselor? Share your experience anonymously.
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Top Counselor Employers

Most Common Employers For Counselor

RankCompanyAverage SalaryHourly RateJob Openings
1Community Education Centers$58,926$28.3346
3Catholic Charities Health and Human Services$38,433$18.48116
4Transitional Services Association Inc$37,932$18.2447
5Wisconsin Youth$37,162$17.87123
7Kanakuk Kamps$35,949$17.2879
8Upward Sports$34,664$16.6768
9Jewish Community Center Inc$34,534$16.6063
10Systems Unlimited$34,202$16.44104

Counselor Videos

Becoming a Counselor FAQs

How Long Does It Take To Become A Counselor?

It takes 2 years of professional experience to become a counselor. That is the time it takes to learn specific counselor skills, but does not account for time spent in formal education. If you include the normal education requirements to complete a college degree, then it takes 5 to 7 years years to become a counselor.

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.

Counselor Vs Therapist

A counselor is someone who tends to offer superficial or more short-term mental health care, while a therapist provides longer, more customized mental health treatment plans.

There is a lot of overlap between counselors and therapists since both professions occupy much of the same professional space. Even within the industry, you can find the terms used interchangeably in some contexts.

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.

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.

What Are Careers In Counseling Psychology?

Private practice psychologists, school counselors, or clinical social workers are careers in counseling psychology. Counseling psychology focuses on how people function both individually and within the context of interpersonal relationships with family, friends, and coworkers.

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.

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