The field of counseling offers a number of fulfilling and interesting employment options. As a counselor, you will spend time working closely with people, usually helping them to resolve issues or problems. Counseling is commonly associated with the professions of social worker, psychologist, and psychiatrist, but may also include positions such as psychiatric aide, rehabilitation counselor, and marriage counselor.
Many professions, including ministers, human resource administrators, and school guidance counselors, include training in counseling. Counselors may specialize in specific areas, such as grief, marriage, mental health, and drug abuse. Each opportunity has some appeal, but it is important to make sure that your skills, values, interests, educational path, and work personality align with your career choice.
There are several ways to become a counselor and these paths come with different levels of required training. Most will require at least a four-year college degree, and often a master's degree is necessary. Psychiatrists are medical doctors, so this career choice will require a medical degree. You may be able to counsel people with less than a four-year college degree in certain positions (e.g., as a substance abuse counselor, psychiatric aide, or clergy). Although the profession requires a high degree of training, salaries are often lower than average. There is frequently a great deal of competition for jobs. You may consider opening a private practice and working for yourself, but this may be difficult and will require a great deal of knowledge in how to run a business.
Persons working in counseling jobs often deal with confidential and sensitive information. They must be ethical, trustworthy, and dependable. This field requires diligence with paperwork, knowledge of and access to research, and specialized training to deal with client-specific issues. A counselor may have to deal with stressful and emotionally taxing problems. These are all things to consider when exploring the "counseling cluster."
Career Profile Overview
- Good listener
- Has good note-taking skills
- Self motivated
- Skilled at research (electronic & often print)
- Possesses good telephone skills
- Proficient with computer
- Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators
- Child, Family, and School Social Workers
- Clinical Psychologists
- Counseling Psychologists
- Industrial-Organizational Psychologists
- Loan Counselors
- Marriage and Family Therapists
- Medical and Public Health Social Workers
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
- Mental Health Counselors
- Psychiatric Aides
- Psychiatric Technicians
- Rehabilitation Counselors
- School Psychologists
- Social Work Teachers, Postsecondary
- Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors
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