What Goes Into a Graduate Counseling Degree Program?
If you possess a passion for helping others and providing much-needed support for them during difficult times, you may be interested in pursuing a career in counseling. In order to become a licensed counselor, students typically must earn at least a master's degree in counseling. However, some states may require a doctoral degree in the subject, so check directly with your prospective school or state board for the requirements of licensure. Due to the fact that counselors will often be working with mental health patients and dealing with sensitive issues, ample education and training is mandatory. In a graduate counseling program, students will take courses in abnormal psychology, adolescent development, psychotherapy fundamentals, drug counseling, and other related topics. Students are encouraged to take the classes that relate to their future career goals. For example, if you aspire to become a counselor for young children and families, then during your graduate school career, you may strive to take classes in child psychology, family structures, and early childhood development. On the other hand, if you aspire to become a counselor for recovering substance abuse addicts, you may strive to take classes in drug use, alcoholism, and rehabilitation techniques. Most degree programs also require supervised fieldwork and a lengthy dissertation before graduation.
What Jobs Can Graduate Counseling Degree Holders Get?
Most graduates of a master's or doctoral degree program in counseling go on to work as licensed counselors. Certification and licensure requirements vary from state to state, so before graduating, students should look into the requirements of the state where they intend to practice. Counselors can work in a variety of settings, from high schools to colleges to private practices, depending on the type of clients they wish to see. Employment opportunities for counselors are prosperous across the board, though some types of counselors are projected to see much more growth in the coming decade than others. For example, job openings for mental health counselors are expected to increase 24% during the 2008-18 decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, pouring in approximately 27,200 new jobs into the market. On the other hand, job openings for marriage and family therapists are projected to increase 14%, adding in 3,900 new jobs, the BLS reports. However, even the least prosperous niche in counseling is expected to experience positive growth. As mental health becomes less taboo and more important in the public eye, the demand for counselors of all types will undoubtedly expand.