Is Getting My Masters in Counseling Worth the Money to Obtain It?

Counseling is a rewarding field, full of potential for doing a lot of good in the world in a career that offers flexibility and diversity. One of the biggest questions to ponder before entering this field is whether the financial side of obtaining a masters degree in counseling is worth it in the long run. To answer this question we have researched several reputable sites to bring you a definitive answer.

Schooling Requirements for Counseling

According to the American Counseling Association, becoming a certified counselor involves not only a masters degree in counseling, but an internship and practicum as well. The length of time required to complete the internship depends on your state, but some states require 1,000 hours. After completing your internship and graduating from your program, often times there is a probationary period before sitting for your state board exam and becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor. This probationary period can be paid, and usually lasts a couple of years. The cost of a masters program in counseling depends on many different factors, including if the school is public or private, but generally speaking the entire cost of a master’s degree is around $30,000 a year for an in state, public program, according to US News. This estimate includes books and living expenses, not just tuition and fees.

Salary Outlook for Professional Counselors

There are so many different specialties in counseling that it is difficult to narrow down a specific salary for a Professional Counselor. The salary will depend upon certification, if you are employed by the government or privately, your specialty (marriage and family, substance abuse counselor, mental health worker, etc), your experience and location. Taking into account all of these factors, the annual salary range for a masters level counselor is between $30,000 and $70,000 annually.

So, is it Worth it?

Based upon the average cost of graduate school and the average salary of a counselor, it appears that the investment in school is worth it. Should you attend school full time for two years, you will have approximately $60,000 in student loans. Even with job on the lower end of the pay scale spectrum, you should be able to pay back your loans within five years. If you qualify for aid or are a part of a dual income home, can hold a part time job while you study or earn some type of employer assistance to lower your school costs, you will be in even better shape financially upon graduation.


Counseling, similar to many professions in the mental health field, has a great job outlook for new graduates. In order to qualify for these jobs, an investment of time and money is required. The two years of full time school is more than worth it financially to be a part of a field that is always hiring. The many various specialties guarantee that you will be able to find a niche to make a name for yourself and provide for you family financially for many years to come. The temporary financial sacrifice will pay off a few years after graduation and the satisfaction of being in a field that makes a difference will continue to reap contentment and satisfaction on you professionally and personally.