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Program Counselor Careers

You want to build strong and healthy homes, whether one within a single house or an entire community. As a Program Counselor, you provide counseling, assistance, and guidance to help clients develop daily living skills that improve their mental, physical, or emotional health.

You work with individuals, groups, and communities through programs that treat problems or offer crisis interventions. You help residents follow programs set up as relevant, purposeful, and in tune with their choices.

If you are interested in a career as a program counselor, you need a bachelor's degree in a social science field. You may also need experience, which you can gain through a counseling internship or as a camp counselor or aide. As a Program Counselor, you earn a median yearly salary of $40,000.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a program counselor. For example, did you know that they make an average of $17.46 an hour? That's $36,325 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 Program Counselor Do

There are certain skills that many program 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 interpersonal skills.

When it comes to the most important skills required to be a program counselor, we found that a lot of resumes listed 12.8% of program counselors included intellectual disabilities, while 10.2% of resumes included crisis intervention, and 8.0% of resumes included community integration. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

When it comes to searching for a job, many search for a key term or phrase. Instead, it might be more helpful to search by industry, as you might be missing jobs that you never thought about in industries that you didn't even think offered positions related to the program counselor job title. But what industry to start with? Most program counselors actually find jobs in the non profits and education industries.

How To Become a Program Counselor

If you're interested in becoming a program counselor, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 48.6% of program counselors have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 25.1% of program counselors have master's degrees. Even though most program 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 program counselor. When we researched the most common majors for a program counselor, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor's degree degrees or master's degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on program counselor resumes include associate degree degrees or high school diploma degrees.

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

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Average Salary
$36,325
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
8%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
61,048
Job Openings

Program Counselor Career Paths

Top Careers Before Program Counselor

Cashier
9.6 %

Top Careers After Program Counselor

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a Program Counselor

Program Counselors in America make an average salary of $36,325 per year or $17 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $48,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $27,000 per year.
Average Salary
$36,325

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Santa Monica, CA
Salary Range31k - 57k$43k$42,897
Dover, DE
Salary Range31k - 53k$41k$41,299
New York, NY
Salary Range30k - 50k$39k$39,180
Arlington, VA
Salary Range28k - 49k$38k$37,897
Fall River, MA
Salary Range30k - 46k$38k$37,603
Coon Rapids, MN
Salary Range29k - 46k$37k$37,366
$26k
$57k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Counselor 2 ACT Program
Counselor 2 ACT Program
Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services, Inc.
Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services, Inc.
01/29/2021
01/29/2021
$39,44901/29/2021
$39,449
Counselor-Graduate Maintenance Program
Counselor-Graduate Maintenance Program
Spectrum Health Systems, Inc.
Spectrum Health Systems, Inc.
01/14/2021
01/14/2021
$40,00001/14/2021
$40,000
Lake Program Counselor Overnight Awake
Lake Program Counselor Overnight Awake
Marrakech, Inc.
Marrakech, Inc.
12/28/2020
12/28/2020
$30,78312/28/2020
$30,783
Counselor-Tablet Program
Counselor-Tablet Program
Spectrum Health Systems, Inc.
Spectrum Health Systems, Inc.
12/24/2020
12/24/2020
$38,00012/24/2020
$38,000
EOP Program Counselor (Temporary)-Fashion Institute of Technology
EOP Program Counselor (Temporary)-Fashion Institute of Technology
Fashion Institute of Technology
Fashion Institute of Technology
11/23/2020
11/23/2020
$52,17511/23/2020
$52,175
See More Recent Salaries

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Program 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 Program 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 Program Counselor Resume

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

View Detailed Information

Program Counselor Demographics

Gender

female

61.5 %

male

34.1 %

unknown

4.4 %

Ethnicity

White

71.1 %

Black or African American

13.1 %

Hispanic or Latino

10.4 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

60.8 %

French

11.3 %

Italian

3.4 %
See More Demographics

Program Counselor Education

Majors

Degrees

Bachelors

53.9 %

Masters

13.8 %

Certificate

11.8 %

Top Colleges for Program Counselors

1. California State University - Long Beach

Long Beach, CA • Public

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

2. Hunter College of the City University of New York

New York, NY • Public

In-State Tuition
$7,182
Enrollment
16,205

3. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

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

4. New York University

New York, NY • Private

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

5. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Public

In-State Tuition
$15,262
Enrollment
30,079

6. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Public

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

7. San Jose State University

San Jose, CA • Public

In-State Tuition
$7,796
Enrollment
27,125

8. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

9. Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD • Private

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

10. Coppin State University

Baltimore, MD • Public

In-State Tuition
$8,873
Enrollment
2,326
See More Education Info
Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Program 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, 12.8% of program counselors listed intellectual disabilities on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and compassion are important as well.

  • Intellectual Disabilities, 12.8%
  • Crisis Intervention, 10.2%
  • Community Integration, 8.0%
  • CPR, 7.6%
  • Medication Administration, 6.3%
  • Other Skills, 55.1%
  • See All Program Counselor Skills

Best States For a Program Counselor

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a program counselor. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, Washington, Nevada, and California. Program counselors make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $48,231. Whereas in Washington and Nevada, they would average $47,016 and $46,180, respectively. While program counselors would only make an average of $43,415 in California, 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. Arizona

Total Program Counselor Jobs:
1,269
Highest 10% Earn:
$71,000
Location Quotient:
1.38
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. Rhode Island

Total Program Counselor Jobs:
255
Highest 10% Earn:
$64,000
Location Quotient:
1.33
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 Program Counselor Jobs:
825
Highest 10% Earn:
$70,000
Location Quotient:
1.26
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
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Top Program Counselor Employers

1. Dungarvin
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$32,248
Program Counselors Hired: 
373+
2. ACR Homes
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$37,033
Program Counselors Hired: 
224+
3. YMCA of Greater Indianapolis
3.6
Avg. Salary: 
$38,740
Program Counselors Hired: 
86+
4. Meridian Services
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$38,336
Program Counselors Hired: 
83+
5. Pinnacle
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$36,292
Program Counselors Hired: 
43+
6. Northeast Residence
3.6
Avg. Salary: 
$33,748
Program Counselors Hired: 
25+

Program Counselor Videos

Updated October 2, 2020