This article discusses counseling degree concentrations for those considering a masters degree in counseling. Counselors have a passion for helping people find solutions to their physical, mental and emotional problems. If this is your area of interest, you have an opportunity to choose a certain specialization that best suits your personal goals.
Before enrolling in a degree program, make sure you educate yourself about the differences between the specialty areas in counseling available today. This will help you determine the degree you can pursue and the path which can lead you to fulfill your goals.
Specialty areas you may choose to pursue include school counseling, mental health, community, rehabilitation, substance abuse, guidance and vocational counseling. School counselors generally help students in their academic, personal, social and career development while marriage and family counselors help couples and families solve their relationship problems. Mental health counselors, on the other hand, help people cope with their depression, stress, eating disorders, loss of a loved one, domestic violence, substance abuse issues and other problems that affect their mental and emotional health. Those involved in rehabilitation counseling, meanwhile, help people cope with the effects of their disabilities.
To become a counselor, one needs a bachelor’s and master’s degrees from an institution accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). An associate degree, however, may be sufficient for those who wish to specialize in alcohol and drug abuse counseling and those who wish to start a career in social work.
A bachelor’s degree in psychology or sociology is most suitable to pursue as an educational foundation. Other degrees you can choose from are on biology, statistics and human development. Courses covered in these bachelor’s degrees are child development, statistics, research and counseling methods. Students who desire to work as counselors are trained to develop their listening and communication skills as these are vital in the understanding of people’s problems and in finding the best solutions.
With the advent of online degree programs, it is convenient and affordable to pursue your desired education these days. Many colleges and universities now offer distance learning programs to reach out to students in other parts of the world who would like to obtain the right education at a reputable institution without having to travel abroad.
After completion of the degree, two years of clinical training or fieldwork may be required before one can practice fulltime as a counselor in his area of specialization.
In addition, one needs to obtain the proper license for his legal practice. A license or certification is required in most states. A license can only be granted upon passing the examination administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) after which the person can be considered a National Certified Counselor (NCC).
Professionals in the field of counseling enjoy high income these days. A 2009 survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed their median annual salary ranges from nearly $38,000 to more than $106,000 depending on their specialization.
Counselors have varied employment opportunities available to them today regardless of their specialization. Their work settings are not limited to just hospitals and rehabilitation centers as they can also choose to work in schools and government agencies that provide social services. They can also start their own private practice or join group practices.