Counselors do meaningful work that has a profound and lasting impact on the people who use their services. They support people through a multitude of life’s challenges, including family issues, substance abuse, and mental illness. Working as a counselor can be demanding and stressful, and you will likely have to deal with high-pressure situations. Qualifying as a counselor is also a lengthy process that will require you to earn a masters in counseling. However, becoming a counselor has several incredible benefits, and many people choose to pursue a job in this rewarding field. If you’re considering a career in counseling, then here are nine great reasons to become a counselor.
1. Diverse job opportunities
Counseling is an extremely diverse field with a massive variety of job roles on offer. Graduate counselors studying for a masters in counseling can choose from a selection of specializations; for instance, school counseling or marriage counseling. Choosing a specialization during your masters in counseling degree allows counselors to become experts in the field that is best suited to their skills, interests, and work preferences. Having this flexibility means that counselors are more likely to get long-term satisfaction from their careers. Here are some of the most popular areas of counseling that you can specialize in while studying for a masters in counseling.
- Family counseling – Family counselors work with couples and families to help them overcome issues that are affecting their mental health, such as divorce and adolescent behavioral problems. Their goal is to improve communication, encourage respect between family members, and create stronger bonds within family units.
- Rehabilitation counseling – Rehabilitation counselors support people with disabilities and help them lead independent and fulfilling lives. They work with people with a wide range of physical and mental disabilities and help them achieve their personal goals and face challenges more positively. Counselors learn the specialist skills needed to support people with disabilities by choosing this specialism when they enroll in a masters in counseling.
- Educational counseling – Educational counselors support students at all levels – from elementary to college. They support students with issues relating to both their academic and personal lives and help young people transition into successful adults. Educational counseling typically complete a masters in counseling with a specialism in school counseling.
- Substance abuse counseling – Substance abuse counselors are compassionate individuals who diagnose and treat addictions. This may include alcohol and drug abuse, behavioral issues, or eating disorders. They create customized treatment plans to help people overcome addiction and lead happy and fulfilled lives.
The roles and responsibilities differ depending on what sector of counseling you choose to specialize in. Therefore, it is essential that you research the different fields and gain a thorough understanding of the role. One of the best ways to learn about different areas of counseling is by completing placements in various counseling sectors. You don’t have to choose a specialism before you start your masters in counseling, although most graduates go into the course with one in mind. Most masters in counseling programs require you to complete a certain amount of placement hours. That said, it’s a good idea to start building your relevant experience as early as possible, ideally, while you’re still in high school or college and before you begin your masters in counseling. Doing so will give you insight into the industry and help you decide which sector of counseling is right for you. You can learn more about the different types of counseling by visiting reputable websites.
2. Meaningful work
A key reason why people choose to train as counselors is that they want the opportunity to do meaningful work that will have a positive impact on others. Counselors help people in a significant way. For example, a marriage counselor can help couples rekindle their love for one another and prevent a marriage from ending in divorce. In contrast, a substance abuse counselor could potentially save a life by helping a person overcome issues like drug abuse and depression. Having such an important responsibility gives counselors a sense of purpose and gives value to their work. Research has found a connection between meaningful work and mental health. Helping others increases endorphins, which boosts happiness and reduces stress. For that reason, people who perform meaningful work tend to report higher wellbeing and fewer mental health issues.
3. Job satisfaction
Counselors tend to have high levels of job satisfaction when compared to people in other occupations. A recent survey by Career Explorer found that the majority of counselors are happy in their jobs. This puts counseling in the top 33% of jobs when it comes to career satisfaction and happiness in the workplace. Many counselors also report a great sense of pride from completing the training required to qualify as a counselor, such as earning a masters in counseling and being awarded a state license. You are likely to be working for the majority of your adult life, so you must get enjoyment from your career. People who are unhappy in their job roles often experience poor mental health and may develop conditions such as depression. Training to become a counselor can be an excellent way to boost your job satisfaction and improve your overall quality of life.
4. Growing industry
Another great reason to become a counselor is that the industry is growing at an impressive rate. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for marriage counselors are expected to grow by 22% by 2029. Substance abuse counselors can expect a 25% increase in job opportunities over the next 10 years. This is a lot higher than the average expected across all other occupations. Demand for counselors with a higher qualification, such as a master in counseling, is growing. It means that graduates typically find it easy to secure work and can find employment quickly if they relocate or are seeking opportunities with a new employer. There is also expected to be an increasing shortage of counselors with a masters in counseling. It is estimated that by 2025, there will be a shortage of almost 80,000 school counselors in the US alone. This means that the demand for counselors with a masters in counseling is likely to continue growing. The high demand for certified counselors also implies that counseling professionals can often negotiate high salary packages and additional job benefits such as annual bonuses and free private healthcare. With the projected growth in the counseling sector being so good, now is the ideal time to train as a counselor and join this exciting field.
5. Online qualifications
The lengthy training period can be off-putting for older people or those who have commitments preventing them from attending college full-time, such as a young family. Fortunately, there are plenty of flexible counseling programs that make the qualification more convenient and accessible. For instance, you can choose to study a bachelor’s in counseling and a masters in counseling via distance learning. Online courses give you the flexibility and freedom to work from any convenient location with an internet connection. You can also fit study around your schedule and learn at your own pace. According to usjournal.com, another attractive benefit of distance learning is that “you won’t have to waste time and resources on transport and commuting to and from classes.” Online courses have made it possible for anyone to earn the qualifications needed to become a certified counselor.
Online courses like a masters in counseling can be a fantastic option for people who are unable to enroll in traditional classroom-based programs. However, distance learning can present some additional challenges. To be successful, you must be motivated and create a clear study plan to complete your coursework and assessments on time. If you are studying a masters in counseling online, then make sure you connect with your tutors and peers via digital platforms and reach out for support if you are struggling with any aspects of your course. There is a massive selection of articles offering students tips for successful online learning.
6. Job security
As discussed, the demand for counselors is growing, particularly for those with a higher qualification. It means that counselors typically have fantastic job security and don’t need to worry about losing their jobs unexpectedly. This is a huge benefit for most people, as losing your main source of income can have a disastrous effect on your quality of life. In the worst situations, you may be left unable to pay your mortgage and lose your house. Poor job security and the fear of losing your job can cause huge amounts of stress and harm your health and wellbeing. Fortunately, counselors enjoy high job security and are rarely made redundant. Even if this were to happen, then most counselors with a masters in counseling would not struggle to find employment elsewhere.
7. Good earning potential
Counseling is not the highest paid profession, but you will enjoy a good base salary that will support a comfortable standard of living. BLS states that school counselors are typically the highest-paid counseling professionals with an average annual salary of $57,040. At the same time, marriage counselors can expect to earn just under $50,000 per year. Salaries differ depending on various factors such as state, experience, and sector. Counselors can improve their earning potential by completing additional qualifications, including a masters in counseling or a Ph.D. in counseling. Having a higher qualification gives counselors a competitive edge and helps them secure senior positions. Advancement opportunities in counseling depend on the sector; school counselors may be able to advance into supervisory or administrative positions within educational facilities. Managerial counseling roles have higher responsibilities and typically offer higher salaries and extra job perks like performance bonuses. Qualified counselors with a masters in counseling also have the option to boost their pay and career outlook by opening a private practice. The benefits of this will be discussed in more detail below.
8. Flexible work hours
Many counselors work standard 9-5 working hours. However, they do sometimes have a flexible work schedule. For instance, marriage counselors may have to book appointments with clients in the evening and weekends to accommodate their schedules. They may also have to respond to family crises from time to time. Working outside of standard hours can be a challenge, but it can also have some benefits. Typically, you will be paid extra for overtime or can take this time in lieu and enjoy some time off during the week. Counselors also tend to enjoy generous vacation allowances. For example, school counselors generally get the school holidays off, including the 10-11 week summer break. This means that school counselors get lots of free time to spend with their kids and family.
9. Opportunity to go self-employed
Many counselors with a masters in counseling have a goal to start a private practice and offer their services on a self-employed basis. Running a counseling practice will mean that you have more control over your work schedule and can adapt your work to suit your lifestyle. You will also have the chance to increase your salary as you will receive all of the profits. That said, starting a private practice is a big investment that requires significant resources. You should also be aware of the potential disadvantages of being self-employed, which can include no holiday pay and fluctuating income. Often, counselors complete their masters in counseling, gain licensure, and work for several years to gain experience before opening a private practice. There is a good selection of articles offering guidance on the steps to take when opening a private counseling practice.
There are plenty of great reasons to become a counselor. Some of the biggest benefits include the opportunity to do meaningful work, high job satisfaction, and job security. The demand for counselors with a masters in counseling is growing rapidly, which means that now is an excellent time to join this rewarding industry. Becoming a licensed counselor is a large investment that will require you to earn a masters in counseling and complete several years of training. That said, your hard work should pay off as you will get to enjoy a fulfilling career with a fantastic job outlook.