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How To Become a Counselor?

how to become a counselor

If you’re interested in knowing How To Become a Counselor or in what a Counseling job entails, then this guide will outline everything that you need to know. Working in this profession is a complex yet rewarding job, and helping others to progress in life with the correct foundational support is rewarding and fulfilling.

Becoming a Counselor, therefore, harnesses many responsibilities, but what makes this job such an appealing career path to pursue?

how to become a counselor

What Does A Counselor Do?

The role of a Counselor is broad, multifaceted, and deals with a range of issues in many contexts. The aim is to provide verbal therapy and to support clients through their psychological and emotional problems.

Counselors use evidence-based approaches such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or other psychological techniques. Counseling deals with a range of issues such as alcohol counseling services, relationships, financial, or mental health.

Read more: How to Become a Marriage Counselor?

What Kind Of Tasks Do Counselors Have?

There is a range of services that counselors offer, which include:

  • Engaging in talking therapy with clients and implementing psychological approaches.
  • Identifying concerns and addressing clients’ needs.
  • Attending meetings and making client referrals to other professionals.
  • Consulting and collaborating with other professionals in a multi-disciplinary team.
  • Completing administrative duties such as managing, organizing, and keeping records of assessments in files.

Where Do Counselors Work?

Counselors work in multiple different settings, which can range from hospitals, prisons, schools, rehabilitation centers, mental health centers, and healthcare centers. The environment differs according to the nature of their job, who their clients are, and which area they specialize in. For some counselors, working in a private office and holding consultations is common too.

Do Counselors Work With Clients 1-1 or In Groups?

Counselors can have various tasks that range from working on a one-to-one basis with clients during more personal and individualized counseling sessions.

In contrast, some other areas like family or marriage counselors will involve more than two clients at once due to the fact they have relationship counseling. The point of this group therapy session is to engage clients to think about overcoming emotional difficulties or conflicts that they are experiencing together.

How Much Does A Counselor Earn?

The latest data shows that the average Counselor earns an average of $73,000 a year. Though the average salary amount ranges and depends on the state that you’re working in and which area you choose to specialize in.

How To Become A Counselor?

If you want to know the route to becoming a Counselor, then we have it covered. Detailed below is a step-by-step guide to simply outline how to get started. Let’s get started!

Study a Bachelor’s Degree

To become a qualified counselor, you’ll first need to have a bachelor’s degree. There’s no specific undergraduate qualification for counseling.

However, it’s ideal to get an undergraduate degree in a related field such as psychology, sociology, counseling, or education. You can then progress to get a master’s degree after that, which will enable you to start your training.

Study a Master’s Degree

To be a Counselor, you’ll need a Master’s degree in Counseling. Though depending on your undergraduate degree, some states or companies may consider a related qualification, but you’ll still need to undergo further training and study for the role. You’ll be able to choose an industry that you prefer to study once you complete a Master’s degree.

All states in the US require that you must have a master’s degree to get a license for this role. The postgraduate course is multi-faceted and offers practice-based training and assessments that aim to prepare you for this role once you graduate. You’ll take several classes from a broad range of subjects such as psychology, law, social justice, and education.

how to become the counselors

Complete an Internship

During your master’s course, you’ll have to undergo an accredited internship as part of your curriculum program. Depending on the state where you’re training, you’ll be required to do a set amount of hours for the internship. This part is compulsory to train and qualify as a Professional Counselor.

Internships placements can be hundreds of hours supervised and unsupervised in a school that is spent shadowing, observing, and assisting trained professionals. Without completing an internship, you’ll be unable to apply for a license. Depending on the state that you choose to work in and train, you could spend up to two years of a supervised internship.

Apply For Your Counseling License

Once you have completed your qualifications and internship, you’ll be ready to apply for your licensure to start working as a Counselor. This process requires you to have finished the above steps, and to pass an exam, applicants need between 2,000 and 4,000 hours of clinical experience under supervision to qualify for this license.

Before proceeding, you’ll have to demonstrate you’ve finished the appropriate classes, modules, and earned an adequate amount of credits or marks from them. You’ll also have to undergo a criminal background check and pass. Make sure you check your licensing renewal requirements.

Get a Counseling Certificate

As well as completing the above test and obtaining a Master’s degree, according to the National Counselor Exam (NCE), you’ll need to have 3,000 hours worth of post-graduate experience, and at least 100 hours of them have to be supervised.

Obtain Optional Qualifications and Training

Once you are qualified, you have the option to gain more qualifications that can enhance your counseling career search the different Types of Counseling Certifications.

How Long Does It Take?

Generally, in total, it can take up to six years to become a Counselor. This is considering the length of time it takes to finish obtaining the relevant qualifications.

A Bachelor’s degree takes three years to complete, while a Master’s degree is two years to complete. Then, you’ll have to complete an internship or volunteer program, which can also take up to one year to finish. Though, the exact length of time and hours spent completing internships and placements depends according to the type of Counseling you pursue.

Is A Career In Counseling For You?

Before proceeding further, it may be worth considering the following information to give you a clearer picture of what it’s like to be a Counselor.

Why Become a Counselor?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for some counselors, such as school counselors, is predicted to increase by 8% until 2024. Therefore, there is a strong job outlook in this field. With guaranteed hours, it’s an opportunity for great pay with training and experience.

Not only is the earning and work availability satisfying for most people in this profession, but it’s regarded as a rewarding and fulfilling role to maintain. As a counselor, you are an advocate for change and are able to inspire and support the development of individuals in your community and change others’ lives for the better.

Qualities And Skills Required For Counseling

Do you have what it takes to become a Counselor? Listed below are some important competencies and traits that you’ll need to adapt to be successful in this role.


Being a counselor can be a demanding and challenging job. Handing a high workload as well as managing emotional and sensitive cases can feel stressful at times. So, resilience is a crucial trait that enables you to get the job done whilst still maintaining a professional and empathetic standard.


You’ll be responsible for handling requests, responding to the needs and concerns of clients, organizing files, conducting risk assessments, and collaborating with other professionals to determine an individuals’ welfare and development. The ability to manage, therefore, is a key trait that you’ll need for this role.


Your role will require you to assess and determine how to improve the well-being and psychological development of individuals. This involves a diligent and analytical outlook when evaluating how you can most effectively achieve the best results.


You’ll be working in a multi-disciplinary team, collaborating with other professionals. The role demands exceptional communication skills to mediate and inform other professionals, make referrals, as well as regularly discuss with the client how to make improvements. You’ll also need to be an active listener for this role which relates closely to communication skills.

how to become counselors


To work in this role, you’ll need to have a compassionate outlook and an empathic nature. Working with clients that have emotional and behavioral needs can be challenging and demanding. So, a passion to help and care for others of all ages is necessary, and you must demonstrate a holistic understanding of cultural and social influences.


This is also an important trait and skill to develop because not all clients will be receptive to programs, assessments, and there may be too many issues that clients are dealing with to take responsibility and overcome difficulties.

When conducting assessments and advising clients, it must be executed carefully and with an awareness that it may take other clients more time to improve and develop.

FAQs About Counseling Careers

Here are the top frequently asked questions about careers in counseling:

What Degree Do I Need To Become a Counselor?

Depending on where you work and whether you intend to do a Master’s degree – you’ll only need a degree in Counseling or Psychotherapy to become a Counselor. For specific types of counseling like school, family, or mental health, qualifications and training requirements vary.

How Do I Become a Counselor Without a Degree?

You don’t necessarily need a degree to become a counselor. There are various ways to become a licensed counselor without getting an undergraduate bachelor’s. You’ll still have to complete training, have some practical work experience, and complete theoretical study before counseling.

Can I Become a Counselor Online?

Yes, you can become a counselor online, but make sure it’s appropriate and meets the guidelines. There are certificates that you can complete instead of completing the regular in-person learning program.

You need to make sure the program is approved by the National Accreditation Agency (NAA). Make sure it prepares you for the appropriate licensure requirements by state and has an adequate amount of faculty credentials.

What are Accredited Counseling Courses Online?

If you’re searching for an alternative to in-person studying, you can opt for an online approach and find an accredited course. However, you’ll need to finish the appropriate studying, training, and internship, as previously mentioned, regardless of whether you finish a course online or in person.

The other requirements have to be met to qualify with the American Care Association. Search these short courses in counseling and explore your long-distance learning options.

How To Become A Guidance Counselor?

A Guidance Counselor is also referred to as a School Counselor. To become one, you’ll need to complete the necessary education, complete an internship, pass the state’s required exams, gain licensure or continue with further educational classes.

The exact rules to follow depend on your state, but it’s essential to complete all the steps required by the (ASCA), so make sure you check these carefully.

What Are The Best Online Counseling Certificates?

If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a counselor, but you first need to get a certificate, then you might want to browse some choices online.

Here are The 12 Best Online Counseling Certificate Programs in 2021 to explore the available opportunities. Specializations are broad and range from drug rehabilitation, mental health, family, and education. This website details the entry requirements before obtaining a certificate and whether the online counseling certificate is accredited.

Helping People Makes A Difference!

We’ll begin with our Counselor Job Description and our Counseling Psychologist Job Description, or perhaps you’d like to know How To Become A School Counselor, what the Students Admissions Counselor Interview Questions and Guidance Counselor Interview Questions are in case you decide to pursue one of the alternatives.

For amazing online resources, check out Counseling Insights: Practical Strategies for Helping Others with Anxiety, Trauma, Grief, and More, the Encyclopedia of Counseling: Master Review and Tutorial for the National Counselor Examination, State Counseling Exams, and the Counselor Preparation, and the 45 Techniques Every Counselor Should Know (Merrill Counseling) all available online in 2023.

Or check out the 15-Minute Counseling Techniques that Work: What You Didn’t Learn in Grad School, or the Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, Enhanced, along with the Counseling by the Book, the Skills for Effective Counseling: A Faith-Based Integration, and why not try the Counseling Activities Workbook – Handouts and Exercises for Working With People for a more interactive approach.

Final Thoughts

Becoming a Counselor can be a role that empowers and promotes clients to take ownership of their life and overcome emotional struggles.

You have the opportunity of helping people in your local community and make a difference, as well as building long-lasting connections while doing it. The work demand only grows every year, which is great for future employment prospects and job security.

Counseling is a broad and complex job that requires management, resilience, and exceptional communication. Have you got what it takes to succeed and make a lasting difference in people’s lives?

The very best of luck with your career as a Counselor!

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