If you're planning on becoming a counselor, then you're probably curious about the employment outlook for counselors over the next few years.
Job demand varies based on the type of counseling that you intend to practice, but overall, most counselors can expect solid career growth over the next decade according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS.
Whether you want to work with children and families, help repair marriages, address substance abuse issues or assist people who are recovering from major accidents, counseling can be a rewarding career for the right person.
The American Counseling Session lists 22 types of counseling specialties, noting that the list is not exhaustive and that there are other sub-specialties and niche areas in which counselors can practice. Included in the list of specialties are areas with which you might be familiar: career and employment, marriage, family, substance abuse and school counseling.
There are also some areas that you might not think about, including rehabilitation, military, wellness, and adult development and aging. Counseling serves a vital role in helping people to cope with significant life changes, so it should come as no surprise that there's a wide array of options for counselors when it comes to choosing a particular field.
Some specialties will see better job growth than others.
Job Outlook for Counselors
The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers a look at five distinct specialties within the counseling field: school and career counseling, genetic counseling, rehabilitative counseling, substance abuse and behavioral disorders counseling, and mental health counseling. Each type has its own job outlook. For example, mental health counselors, which are grouped with marriage and family therapists, can expect job growth of 19 percent over the next decade. This is much faster than the average for other occupations. School and career counselors, on the other hand, can expect modest growth of 8 percent by 2024.
Most counseling specialties will see substantial increases in the number of jobs available. The fastest-growing counseling specialty is genetic counseling at 29 percent.
As a large Baby Boomer population continues to get older and the stress levels of an always-on generation rise, the employment outlook for counselors is promising.
Education and Training
In order to practice as a counselor, the minimum education required is typically a master's degree in mental health counseling. Many degree programs allow and encourage students to pursue specialty certification in one of the areas listed above.
You'll need a bachelor's degree from an accredited school to enroll in a master's degree program, and a lot of schools now offer graduate-level coursework entirely online for working professionals.
Certain specialties, such as school counseling, may also require additional licensure. School counselors work with minors, and many states require that professionals undergo specific training to work with students. Your state's credentialing board should offer details on practicing a particular specialty within the counseling field.
Counseling helps millions of people lead healthier, happier lives, and there are many options to choose from in terms of specialty areas. If you're considering a career as a counselor, then know that your career possibilities are potentially endless depending on where you work. The employment outlook for counselors is good for those who can offer emotional, mental and lifestyle support for a diverse client base.