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Become A Rehabilitation Counselor

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Working As A Rehabilitation Counselor

  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Getting Information
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $31,242

    Average Salary

What Does A Rehabilitation Counselor Do

Rehabilitation counselors help people with physical, mental, developmental, and emotional disabilities live independently. They work with clients to overcome or manage the personal, social, or psychological effects of disabilities on employment or independent living.


Rehabilitation counselors typically do the following:

  • Provide individual and group counseling to help clients adjust to their disability
  • Evaluate clients’ abilities, interests, experiences, skills, health, and education
  • Develop a treatment plan for clients in consultation with other professionals, such as doctors, therapists, and psychologists
  • Arrange for clients to obtain services, such as medical care or career training
  • Help employers understand the needs and abilities of people with disabilities, as well as laws and resources that affect people with disabilities
  • Help clients develop their strengths and adjust to their limitations
  • Locate resources, such as wheelchairs or computer programs, that help clients live and work more independently
  • Maintain client records and monitor clients’ progress, adjusting the rehabilitation or treatment plan as necessary
  • Advocate for the rights of people with disabilities to live in a community and work in the job of their choice

Rehabilitation counselors help people with disabilities at various stages in their lives. Some work with students to develop strategies to live with their disability and move from school to work. Others help veterans cope with the mental or physical effects of their military service. Still others help elderly people adapt to disabilities developed later in life from illness or injury. Some may provide expert testimony or assessments during personal injury or workers’ compensation cases.

Some rehabilitation counselors deal specifically with employment issues. These counselors, sometimes called vocational rehabilitation counselors, typically work with older students and adults.

Rehabilitation counselors who work in private practice must spend time marketing their practice to prospective clients and working with insurance companies and clients to get paid for their services.

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How To Become A Rehabilitation Counselor

Rehabilitation counselors typically need a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling or a related field. Some positions require certification or a license.


Most employers require a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling or a related field. A bachelor’s degree in most fields is acceptable to enter a master’s degree program. Master’s degree programs teach students the theories, skills, and techniques that will enable them to provide effective mental health counseling. These programs also train students in evaluating clients’ needs, formulating and implementing job placement strategies, and understanding the medical and psychological aspects of a disability. They typically require a period of supervised clinical experience, such as an internship.

Although some employers hire workers with a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation and disability studies, these workers typically cannot offer the full range of services that a rehabilitation counselor with a master’s degree can provide. Students in bachelor’s degree programs learn about issues that people with disabilities face and about the process of providing rehabilitation services. Some universities offer dual-degree programs in rehabilitation counseling, in which students can earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in 5 years.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensing requirements for rehabilitation counselors differ by state and by type of services provided. Those providing counseling services to clients and patients must attain a license through their state licensing board. Other services provided by rehabilitation counselors, however, may be exempt from state licensing requirements. For example, rehabilitation counselors who provide only vocational rehabilitation services or job placement assistance may not need a license.

Licensure typically requires a master’s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. In addition, counselors must pass a state-recognized exam. To maintain their licensure, counselors must complete annual continuing education credits.

Applicants should contact their state licensing board for information on what services or counseling positions require licensure. Contact information for these state licensing boards can be found through the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification.

Some employers prefer or require rehabilitation counselors to be certified. The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification offers the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) certification. Applicants must meet advanced education, work experience, and clinical supervision requirements and pass a test. Certification must be renewed every 5 years. Counselors must complete continuing education requirements or pass a reexamination to renew their certification.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Rehabilitation counselors need to be able to effectively communicate with clients. They must express ideas and information in a way that is easy to understand.

Compassion. Counselors often work with people who are dealing with stressful and difficult situations. They must be compassionate and empathize with their clients.

Critical-thinking skills. Counselors must be able to develop a treatment plan to help clients reach their goals by considering each client’s abilities and interests.   

Interpersonal skills. Being able to work with different types of people is essential for rehabilitation counselors, who spend most of their time working directly with clients, families, employers, or other professionals. They must be able to develop and maintain good working relationships.

Listening skills. Good listening skills are essential for rehabilitation counselors. They need to give their full attention in sessions in order to understand clients’ problems, concerns, and values.

Patience. To help people learn new skills and strategies, rehabilitation counselors must have patience as clients struggle to learn about and address their disabilities.

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Rehabilitation Counselor jobs

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Rehabilitation Counselor Career Paths

Rehabilitation Counselor
Substance Abuse Counselor Program Director Clinical Director
Administrative Director, Behavioral Health Services
11 Yearsyrs
Counselor Case Manager
Career Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Counselor Instructor
Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Clinician Clinical Social Worker
Clinical Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Therapist
Clinical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Therapist Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Service Director Nursing Director
Clinical Services Director
11 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Program Director
Director Of Residential Services
7 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Social Worker
Director Of Social Services
6 Yearsyrs
Program Director Facilitator Social Worker
Director Of Social Work
7 Yearsyrs
Clinician Nurse Practitioner Nurse Manager
Emergency Services Director
8 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Counselor Social Worker Career Manager
Health Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Substance Abuse Counselor Clinical Director
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Counselor Registered Nurse Occupational Health Nurse
Health Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Program Manager Senior Project Manager
Project Director
8 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Behavioral Specialist Residential Manager
Resident Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Program Director Specialist Direct Support Professional
Residential Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Therapist Program Manager
Service Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Therapist Family Counselor Social Worker
Social Services Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Medical Social Worker
Social Work Case Manager
6 Yearsyrs
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Rehabilitation Counselor Demographics


  • Female

  • Male

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Asian

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

  • French

  • Portuguese

  • Mandarin

  • German

  • Braille

  • Arabic

  • Chinese

  • Romanian

  • Yoruba

  • Persian

  • Dakota

  • Carrier

  • Hindi

  • Hmong

  • Urdu

  • Thai

  • Navajo

  • Italian

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Rehabilitation Counselor

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Rehabilitation Counselor Education

Rehabilitation Counselor

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Real Rehabilitation Counselor Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Rehabilitation Counselor Evergreen Medical Clinic, PC New York, NY Sep 14, 2016 $80,000
Rehabilitation Counselor Restore Rehab Services, LLC Houston, TX Sep 10, 2015 $70,000
Rehabilitation Counselor Northshore Home Health Care, Inc. Schaumburg, IL Dec 01, 2013 $68,744
Rehabilitation Counselor Northshore Home Health Care, Inc. Schaumburg, IL Jan 12, 2016 $68,744
Rehabilitation Counselor Northshore Home Health Care, Inc. Schaumburg, IL Aug 03, 2015 $68,744
Rehabilitation Counselors Interpreting and Consulting Services, Inc. Benicia, CA Aug 30, 2013 $55,245
Rehabilitation Counselor First Class Physical Therapy, P.C. Great Neck, NY Sep 08, 2014 $54,808
Rehabilitation Counselor Palladia Inc. New York, NY Jan 30, 2015 $53,135
Rehabilitation Counselors R A S Health Care LLC Cherry Hill, NJ Aug 01, 2013 $50,088
Rehabilitation Counselors R A S Health Care LLC Cherry Hill, NJ Aug 01, 2014 $50,088
Rehabilitation Counselors Vesta, Inc. Lexington Park, MD May 07, 2013 $49,000
Rehabilitation Counselor First Class Physical Therapy, P.C. New York, NY Sep 08, 2014 $46,030
Rehabilitation Counselors Community Connections, Inc. Washington, DC Jan 28, 2014 $45,473
Rehabilitation Counselors Boston Higashi School Inc. Randolph, MA Jan 16, 2014 $45,000
Rehabilitation Counselor (Primary Instructional Coordinator) The Devereux Foundation-Kanner Center Downingtown, PA Mar 22, 2016 $37,044
Rehabilitation Counselors Boston Higashi School Inc. Randolph, MA Aug 26, 2013 $37,000
Rehabilitation Counselors Boston Higashi School Inc. Randolph, MA Jan 16, 2014 $36,816
Therapist/Rehabilitation Counselor Salisbury Behavioral Health, Inc. Glenside, PA Jun 30, 2016 $36,600
Rehabilitation Counselor II (Case Manager) The Devereux Foundation Rutland, MA Jul 30, 2013 $36,542 -
Rehabilitation Counselors Boston Higashi School Inc. Randolph, MA Jan 16, 2014 $36,192
Rehabilitation Counselor II State of Nevada, Dept. of Employment, Training & R Sparks, NV Feb 15, 2014 $36,115
Rehabilitation Counselor II (Case Manager) The Devereux Foundation Rutland, MA Jan 08, 2016 $31,242 -
Rehabilitation Counselors (Assistant Program Mangers) The Devereux Foundation Rutland, MA Jun 12, 2016 $31,242 -
Rehabilitation Counselors (Assistant Program Mangers) The Devereux Foundation Rutland, MA Oct 12, 2016 $31,242 -
Rehabilitation Counselors II (Assistant Program Manger) The Devereux Foundation Rutland, MA Jun 12, 2016 $31,242 -
Rehabilitation Counselor San Diego Second Chance Program San Diego, CA Sep 09, 2016 $31,200
Rehabilitation Counselors Devereux Foundation Downingtown, PA Jan 07, 2014 $30,826

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Top Skills for A Rehabilitation Counselor


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Top Rehabilitation Counselor Skills

  1. Treatment Plans
  2. Crisis Intervention
  3. Mental Health
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed individualized treatment plans, daily documentation of progress,
  • Major duties included service plan implementation, client advocacy and crisis intervention.
  • Developed weekly lesson plans selecting age appropriate topics for social and mental health development.
  • Located housing for inmates being housed either from another facility or within the institution Case Manager, Rehabilitation Counselors
  • Provided rehabilitation services to adults struggling with severe and persistent mental illness and living in the community.

Top Rehabilitation Counselor Employers

Rehabilitation Counselor Videos

Rehabilitation Counselors - Career Profile

The Art of Rehabilitation Counseling by CRCC

Rehabilitation Counselor