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Become A Rehabilitation Specialist

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Working As A Rehabilitation Specialist

  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • $42,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Rehabilitation Specialist 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.

Duties

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 Specialist

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

Education

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 Specialist Career Paths

Rehabilitation Specialist
Counselor Therapist Case Manager
Patient Care Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Counselor Clinician Case Manager
Medical Case Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Counselor Team Leader Case Manager
Director Of Case Management
11 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Therapist Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Services Director
11 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Team Leader Program Director
Director Of Program Services
8 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Senior Technician Specialist Nursing Director
Director Of Health Services
10 Yearsyrs
Therapist Supervisor Program Director
Director Of Residential Services
7 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Counselor Ambulatory Care Coordinator Registered Nurse Case Manager
Clinical Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Counselor Clinician
Clinical Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Counselor Adjunct Instructor Registered Nurse Case Manager
Utilities Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Clinician Residential Supervisor
Residential Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Program Director Clinical Director
Director Of Rehabilitation
7 Yearsyrs
Specialist Lead Teacher House Manager
Home Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Specialist Registered Nurse Occupational Health Nurse
Health Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Clinical Social Worker Program Supervisor
Residential Program Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Specialist Administrator Registered Nurse Case Manager
Health Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Therapist Clinical Manager Director Of Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation Services Director
8 Yearsyrs
Employment Specialist Human Resources Consultant Employment Manager
Director Of Employer Services
8 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Recruiter Career Counselor
Career Manager
6 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Living Specialist 2.4 years
Counselor 2.0 years
Program Counselor 1.9 years
Top Careers Before Rehabilitation Specialist
Internship 13.9%
Cashier 7.2%
Volunteer 4.7%
Counselor 4.7%
Teacher 3.7%
Supervisor 2.6%
Manager 2.4%
Top Careers After Rehabilitation Specialist
Case Manager 15.4%
Internship 7.9%
Therapist 5.9%
Counselor 5.5%
Clinician 3.9%
Volunteer 3.4%

Do you work as a Rehabilitation Specialist?

Rehabilitation Specialist Demographics

Gender

Female

59.5%

Male

28.1%

Unknown

12.4%
Ethnicity

White

64.4%

Hispanic or Latino

14.3%

Black or African American

11.2%

Asian

6.4%

Unknown

3.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

66.9%

French

7.2%

Portuguese

5.0%

German

4.4%

Russian

2.2%

Vietnamese

1.7%

Greek

1.7%

Arabic

1.7%

Swedish

1.1%

Mandarin

1.1%

Braille

1.1%

Japanese

1.1%

Hebrew

1.1%

Hmong

0.6%

Somali

0.6%

Korean

0.6%

Blackfoot

0.6%

Tigrinya

0.6%

Igbo

0.6%

Yoruba

0.6%
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Rehabilitation Specialist Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

14.4%

Boise State University

13.0%

Idaho State University

9.2%

Walden University

7.0%

Capella University

6.0%

University of Idaho

5.0%

University of Nevada - Las Vegas

4.5%

Grand Canyon University

3.9%

Northwest Nazarene University

3.8%

Liberty University

3.5%

San Diego State University

3.4%

Marshall University

3.4%

University of Oklahoma

3.3%

Pennsylvania State University

3.1%

Arizona State University

2.9%

University of Akron

2.8%

University of Missouri - Columbia

2.8%

Morgan State University

2.8%

Ashford University

2.6%

Temple University

2.6%
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Majors

Psychology

21.3%

Social Work

13.6%

Business

6.9%

Nursing

5.8%

Counseling Psychology

5.1%

Criminal Justice

5.1%

School Counseling

4.7%

Mental Health Counseling

4.7%

Human Services

4.5%

Sociology

3.8%

Rehabilitation Science

3.3%

Kinesiology

3.2%

Medical Assisting Services

3.1%

Clinical Psychology

2.8%

Education

2.8%

Health Care Administration

2.3%

General Studies

1.8%

Family Therapy

1.8%

Human Development

1.8%

Human Resources Management

1.7%
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Degrees

Bachelors

37.5%

Masters

32.6%

Other

15.1%

Associate

6.9%

Certificate

3.8%

Doctorate

2.6%

Diploma

1.1%

License

0.4%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$42,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$27,000
Min 10%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$66,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Marshfield Clinic
Highest Paying City
Menlo Park, CA
Highest Paying State
Nevada
Avg Experience Level
2.4 years
How much does a Rehabilitation Specialist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Rehabilitation Specialist in the United States is $42,964 per year or $21 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $27,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $66,000.

Real Rehabilitation Specialist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Rehabilitation Specialist, Dental Monica S Borris DDS PC Lakewood, CO Jan 06, 2016 $133,973
Acquisition & Rehabilitation Specialist Related Companies of California Irvine, CA Oct 16, 2010 $89,000
Rehabilitation Specialist American Manpower Resource Provider, Inc. NY Jul 29, 2013 $78,075
Rehabilitation Specialist Axis Point Alternative Solutions, Inc. NY Jul 29, 2013 $78,075
Psychosocial Rehabilitation Specialist Creoks Mental Health Services, Inc. Claremore, OK Oct 01, 2012 $70,720
Rehabilitation Specialist Top Rehab, Inc. NY Sep 17, 2013 $65,000
Rehabilitation Specialist Top Rehab, Inc. NY Sep 20, 2013 $65,000
Osteopathic Rehabilitation Specialist Wombat Global Consulting Orlando, FL Feb 15, 2016 $64,384
Foot Rehabilitation Specialist Mika Hayashi DPM, PC New York, NY Jun 23, 2014 $63,069
Rehabilitation Specialist Plattsburgh Physical Therapy & Sports Rehab, P.C. Monticello, NY Jan 15, 2014 $63,000
Rehabilitation Specialist Coalinga State Hospital Coalinga, CA May 17, 2011 $61,898
Rehabilitation Specialist Coalinga State Hospital Coalinga, CA Feb 07, 2011 $61,898
Rehabilitation Specialist Island Musculoskeletal Care, M.D., P.C. Deer Park, NY Mar 09, 2016 $60,320
Rehabilitation Specialist North Shore Medical Rehabilitation PC NY Sep 10, 2015 $45,000
Psychosocial Rehabilitation Specialist Maximus Counseling Inc. Oklahoma City, OK Oct 03, 2014 $45,000
Rehabilitation Specialist Prime Leaders Health Services, Inc. Springfield, NY Mar 09, 2016 $44,512
Rehabilitation Specialist Community Connections, Inc. Washington, DC Jun 11, 2014 $43,290
Rehabilitation Specialist Community Connections, Inc. Washington, DC Dec 18, 2014 $43,146
Rehabilitation Specialist Global Health Services, LLC NY Sep 28, 2012 $41,740
Rehabilitation Specialist Plattsburgh Physical Therapy & Sports Rehab, P.C. Monticello, NY Oct 01, 2011 $41,740
Rehabilitation Specialist Medical Dynamic Systems, Inc. NY Sep 29, 2015 $41,600
Home Rehabilitation Specialist Northeast Denver Housing Center Inc. Denver, CO May 16, 2013 $38,463
Psychosocial Rehabilitation Specialist Mental Wellness Centers, Inc. Idaho Falls, ID Sep 18, 2013 $38,004
Psychosocial Rehabilitation Specialist Mental Wellness Centers, Inc. Idaho Falls, ID Sep 18, 2016 $38,004
Rehabilitation Specialist Community Connections, Inc. Washington, DC May 01, 2010 $38,000
Rehabilitation Specialist Catskill Medical Care Middletown, NY Sep 30, 2014 $37,566
Rehabilitation Specialist Manhattan Allied Network Corporation Scarsdale, NY Oct 01, 2012 $37,440
Rehabilitation Specialist Bay Cove Human Services, Inc. Plainville, MA Oct 01, 2012 $36,126
Rehabilitation Specialist Bay Cove Human Services, Inc. Plainville, MA Oct 03, 2012 $36,000

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Top Skills for A Rehabilitation Specialist

  1. Mental Health
  2. Treatment Plans
  3. Crisis Intervention
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provided supportive training and case management to people with mental health and mental retardation in community independent living setting.
  • Assessed, developed treatment plans and individualized rehabilitative interventions to Veterans with visual impairments raining from low vision to total blindness.
  • Provided crisis intervention for clients in crisis situations to ensure health and safety or to prevent hospitalization or incarceration.
  • Checked group home quickly responded to crisis situations when severe mental health and behavioral issues arose.
  • Direct support for individuals with intellectual disabilities, teaching and role modeling daily living skills, community integration.

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Top 10 Best States for Rehabilitation Specialists

  1. Alaska
  2. District of Columbia
  3. Nevada
  4. North Dakota
  5. Minnesota
  6. Oregon
  7. Pennsylvania
  8. Wisconsin
  9. Texas
  10. Rhode Island
  • (28 jobs)
  • (125 jobs)
  • (88 jobs)
  • (33 jobs)
  • (299 jobs)
  • (144 jobs)
  • (563 jobs)
  • (212 jobs)
  • (765 jobs)
  • (46 jobs)

Top Rehabilitation Specialist Employers

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Jobs From Top Rehabilitation Specialist Employers

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