Becoming a youth counselor may be one of the hardest things you ever do in life. But not because the educational road to get there is long and strenuous. Rather, it's the day-to-day stuff that may get you down.

As a youth counselor, you'll spend a lot of your day interacting with children and teenagers. More times than not, these kids have been put through the emotional ringer. You'll have cases that deal with childhood depression, ADHD, and even abuse.

While it's a tough career, the work you're doing is so important. Watching those kids' mental health improve and being a support for them is especially rewarding.

What Does a Youth Counselor Do

There are certain skills that many youth 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 compassion, time-management skills and communication skills.

Learn more about what a Youth Counselor does

How To Become a Youth Counselor

If you're interested in becoming a youth counselor, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 58.0% of youth counselors have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 7.7% of youth counselors have master's degrees. Even though most youth 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 Youth Counselor

Youth Counselor Career Paths

Average Salary for a Youth Counselor

Youth Counselors in America make an average salary of $36,754 per year or $18 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $49,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $27,000 per year.
Average Youth Counselor Salary
$36,754 Yearly
$17.67 hourly

What Am I Worth?


Roles and Types of Youth Counselor

The role of a youth counselor includes a wide range of responsibilities. These responsibilities can vary based on an individual's specific job, company, or industry.Here are some general youth counselor responsibilities:

  • Under general supervision, this position provides counseling
  • Provide supervision to residents including, daily activities, enforcing the daily planning schedule, conducting property inspections, documenting non-compliance. Ensure safety, cleanliness,
  • Are not limited to:1. perform or assist with any departmental operations, under direction, to maintainwork flow, including transport of clients attend

There are several types of youth counselor, including:



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.

  • Average Salary: $36,225
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

Camp Counselor


While your summer camp will most likely be quite different than summer camps at Camp Crystal Lake from "Friday the 13th," being a camp counselor can be fun. Especially when you're not being chased by Jason.

This is a great job to have if you've received your high school diploma, as you'll be in charge of designing and leading activities. The majority of your day will be spent in recreation centers and parks. So basically, if you like being in charge of groups of people, being active and spending some of the day (if not all) outside then you'll fit right in!

  • Average Salary: $24,340
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

Residential Counselor


Residential counselors work in social care facilities such as homeless shelters, rehabilitation centers, retirement homes, and the like. Their main responsibility is to maintain the structure of the environment or program and oversee the residents' daily activities.

Residential counselors are typically expected to have a degree in psychology, social work, or a related field. They keep an eye on the mental and emotional state of the people under their care and make sure everyone lives by the rules of the facility. They give a hand with transportation and come up with fun and engaging activities for the residents to do while spending quality time together.

As a residential counselor, your responsibilities do not revolve around generating profit, and this is reflected in the median annual salary of the position, which is $29,592. This is a bit less than half of what the average yearly living expenses amount to across the U.S. Caring for each other apparently is not the most lucrative business. It is, however, very rewarding on a personal level.

  • Average Salary: $34,117
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

States With The Most Youth Counselor Jobs

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

Average Salary: Job Openings:

Number Of Youth Counselor Jobs By State

Youth Counselor Education

Youth Counselor Majors

Youth Counselor Degrees


58.0 %


17.4 %

High School Diploma

11.6 %

Top Colleges for Youth Counselors

1. California State University - Long Beach

Long Beach, CA • Private

In-State Tuition




2. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition




3. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

In-State Tuition




4. SUNY at Albany

Albany, NY • Private

In-State Tuition




5. San Jose State University

San Jose, CA • Private

In-State Tuition




6. Coppin State University

Baltimore, MD • Private

In-State Tuition




7. Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA • Private

In-State Tuition




8. California State University - Dominguez Hills

Carson, CA • Private

In-State Tuition




9. Marist College

Poughkeepsie, NY • Private

In-State Tuition




10. SUNY at Binghamton

Vestal, NY • Private

In-State Tuition




Top Skills For a Youth 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, 8.4% of youth counselors listed direct care on their resume, but soft skills such as compassion and time-management skills are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Youth Counselor Resume templates

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

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Youth Counselor diversity

Youth Counselor Gender Distribution


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

  • Among youth counselors, 56.2% of them are women, while 43.8% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among youth counselors is White, which makes up 67.0% of all youth counselors.

  • The most common foreign language among youth counselors is Spanish at 73.2%.

Online Courses For Youth Counselor That You May Like

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Best States For a Youth Counselor

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a youth counselor. The best states for people in this position are California, Washington, West Virginia, and Illinois. Youth counselors make the most in California with an average salary of $50,100. Whereas in Washington and West Virginia, they would average $41,815 and $40,513, respectively. While youth counselors would only make an average of $40,306 in Illinois, 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. California

Total Youth Counselor Jobs: 2,761
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

2. Washington

Total Youth Counselor Jobs: 823
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. New York

Total Youth Counselor Jobs: 1,729
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For Youth Counselors

How Do Youth Counselors Rate Their Jobs?

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Overall Rating*
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Top Youth Counselor Employers

Most Common Employers For Youth Counselor

RankCompanyAverage SalaryHourly RateJob Openings
1Woodward Academy$42,072$20.23107
2G4S Youth Services, LLC$41,823$20.11158
3Wolverine Human Services$41,593$20.00278
4Southwest Key Programs$40,995$19.71684
5Youth Villages$40,300$19.38412
6Vista Maria$39,626$19.05144
7Bellewood & Brooklawn$39,540$19.01116
8Good Shepherd Services$38,882$18.69127

Youth Counselor Videos

Becoming a Youth Counselor FAQs

How Long Does It Take To Become A Youth Counselor?

It takes 2 years of professional experience to become a youth counselor. That is the time it takes to learn specific youth 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 youth counselor.

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