We use cookies to personalize and improve your browsing experience. 

To learn more about how we store and use this data, visit our privacy policy here.

If you are interested in counseling as a career, then you probably like talking with people. Your friends likely think you are a good listener, and they come to you for advice. You probably also have an interest in psychology and understanding how people process information, solve problems and accomplish goals. Finally, you are someone with a great deal of compassion, that likes to help people through a variety of challenges. A counseling major can provide you with the tools you need to be successful in a variety of vocations. There are a lot of different directions you can take a counseling degree. We’ll examine your choices in this article, as well as cover a little bit about the specific education that you may need.

What does a counselor do?

The short answer to this question is that a counselor is someone who uses psychological, and developmental tools to help people accomplish goals, solve problems and be mentally healthier individuals. There are many different kinds of counselors, here are a few examples:

  • School counselors: A school counselor has multiple responsibilities. The counselor is often around to talk with students about a variety of issues, from personal problems to planning for college. They work with parents and teachers to help assess students and evaluate any special needs issues. A high school counselor is very active in helping students plan for college; including helping them choose a college, a degree program and apply for financial aid and scholarships. A counselor in middle school and high school will also help students choose classes that fit their goals and educational development level.
  • Career counselor: These counselors sometimes work in a school setting, or work to help facilitate the career change of someone who is already in the workforce. Career counselors, help people learn how to market themselves, apply for jobs and create resumes. They also help people discover where their aptitudes lie and what career options may best fit their skills, personality, talents and disposition.
  • Mental health counselor and counseling psychologist: These counselors are mental health specialists trained to help their clients with a variety of mental health issues such as depression, addiction, job stress, family issues and so on.

Education needed for counselors:

In most cases, and for most positions, a counselor will need to have a graduate degree. In many cases, a master’s degree is necessary but in some instances, such as a counseling psychologist, you may need to obtain a Ph.D.

Choosing a bachelor’s degree program that will support your graduate degree is very important in becoming a counselor. For example, a school counselor might consider getting a teaching degree. Some school counseling positions require that a candidate have several years of teaching experience. A mental health counselor might want to get a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Most counseling positions also require licensure. At some point toward the end of your graduate degree, you will need to prepare for and take a test to receive a license to practice in your state.