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Become A Residential Counselor

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Working As A Residential Counselor

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • $24,960

    Average Salary

What Does A Residential Counselor Do

A Residential Counselor counsels and supports people who live in group homes or assisted-living facilities. They generally work at organizations such as rehabilitation centers, residential care facilities, group homes, and shelters.

How To Become A Residential Counselor

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists are typically required to have a master’s degree and a license to practice.


To become a mental health counselor or a marriage and family therapist, applicants typically need a master’s degree in psychology, clinical mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, or a related mental health field. A bachelor’s degree in most fields is acceptable to enter a master’s program.

Counseling programs prepare students to recognize symptoms of mental and emotional disorders and to use effective counseling strategies. Marriage and family therapy programs teach students about how marriages, families, and relationships function and how these relationships can affect mental and emotional disorders.

Many employers prefer to hire counselors who have graduated from programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs.


Candidates gain hands-on experience through postdegree supervised clinical work, sometimes referred to as an internship or residency. In training, they learn to provide family therapy, group therapy, psychotherapy, and other therapeutic interventions, under the supervision of a licensed counselor.


All states require mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists to be licensed in the state in which they practice. Licensure requires a master’s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of postdegree supervised clinical experience, sometimes referred to as an internship or residency. In addition, counselors and therapists must pass a state-recognized exam and complete annual continuing education classes.

Contact information for state boards regulating mental health counselors is available through the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Contact and licensing information for marriage and family therapists is available through the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards.

Important Qualities

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

Interpersonal skills. Being able to work with different types of people is essential for counselors and therapists. They spend most of their time working directly with clients and other professionals and must be able to encourage good relationships.

Listening skills. Good listening skills are essential for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists, both of whom need to give their full attention to their clients to understand their problems, values, and goals.

Organizational skills. Good organizational skills are especially important for counselors and therapists in private practice, who must keep track of payments and work with insurance companies.

Speaking skills. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists need to be able to communicate with clients effectively. They must express ideas and information in a way that clients can understand easily.

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Residential Counselor jobs

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Real Residential Counselor Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Residential Counseling Coordinator Highridge Family Center West Palm Beach, FL Jan 05, 2012 $49,516
Residential Counselor Leman Manhattan Preparatory School, LLC New York, NY Jan 09, 2016 $45,000
ABA Counselor-Residential Melmark, Inc. Dracut, MA Jan 11, 2016 $42,765 -
ABA Counselor-Residential Melmark, Inc. Dracut, MA Jan 08, 2016 $42,765 -
Residential Counselor Justice Resource Institute, Inc. Tewksbury, MA Aug 01, 2013 $39,083
ABA Counselor-Residential Melmark, Inc. Dracut, MA Aug 15, 2015 $37,170 -
Residential Counselor Justice Resource Institute, Inc. Tewksbury, MA Aug 01, 2010 $36,712
Residential Cottage Counselor Youth Opportunity Center, Inc. Muncie, IN Sep 22, 2016 $35,000 -
Residential Counselor The Learning Center for Deaf Children Framingham, MA Oct 01, 2010 $32,897
Residential Counselor Eastern Appalachian Teen Challenge, Inc. Fincastle, VA Jul 29, 2010 $32,420

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Top Skills for A Residential Counselor


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Top Residential Counselor Skills

  1. Crisis Intervention
  2. Behavioral Issues
  3. Daily Living Skills
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Completed intake assessments and diagnoses, treatment plans, as well as provided crisis intervention.
  • Spearheaded the development of a residential rehabilitation program serving teenagers with chronic behavioral issues in collaboration with the program manager.
  • Assisted individuals with activities of daily living skills directed towards independent living and community integration.
  • Developed and maintained a therapeutic environment using behavioral management techniques and milieu therapy according to individual treatment plans.
  • Delegated and aided in building essential life skills such as money management, food preparation, personal hygiene and housekeeping.

Top Residential Counselor Employers

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