Counselors aid people with social, educational, personal or medical problems. They
help individuals and groups work with many issues, including mental health, school,
college, career, employment, rehabilitation, aging, substance abuse and marriage and
family conflicts. A variety of specialties are available within this field, including school
and career counseling, employment counseling, rehabilitation counseling, mental
health counseling and genetic counseling.
• help individuals deal with problems such as: addiction and substance abuse; family
conflicts; suicidal feelings; stress; self-esteem; aging; and job or school concerns.
• use interviews and observations to determine problem areas and the focus for
• conduct personality, aptitude, achievement and psychological tests.
• formulate treatment plans and link clients with professional/community resources.
• conduct workshops in special subjects, such as assertiveness, career development,
interpersonal relationships, stress management, coping skills and illness.
• maintain records of tests and counseling sessions.
• teach counselor education classes at universities and colleges.
• conduct research and report results in professional journals.
• work with other mental health specialists (psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers).
Counselors work in a variety of settings, including mental health clinics, health care
facilities, job training and vocational rehabilitation centers, correctional institutions,
residential care facilities, schools, public assistance agencies and substance abuse facilities. Many are employed in private practice and by health maintenance organizations
and group practices.
$24,000 – $44,000
Students interested in becoming counselors should prepare by taking the most challenging high school courses available in science, math, English and psychology, including advanced placement courses. Counselors must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. To move beyond entry level, postgraduate training is usually necessary. Some fields require a master’s degree and licensure or certification by taking a national exam. Contact the National Board for Certified Counselors for the most recent requirements. In Virginia,
licensed professional counselors also must pass a written examination and have two years of postgraduate, full-time supervised experience.