Counsellors work in a wide variety of settings, and the best way to decide how you can help is to start with some introspection. Considering that just in 2019, 1 in 5 Americans received some counselling, it is an excellent time to look to build your career in this field. You may be drawn to counselling because you feel called to work on a problem in the world. Or, you may enjoy working with a particular demographic. Starting from this place of awareness will help you streamline your search for a gratifying career.
If you’re running low on ideas, read on to learn about some of the specialisations you can pursue as a counselling major.
School & Guidance Counsellor
Students of all ages benefit immensely from receiving counselling and advice throughout their educational years. The American School Counsellor Association research shows that school & guidance counselling can positively impact students, especially from underserved and at-risk communities. It is also shown to help them form a healthy sense of self and succeed in the classroom and beyond. Specifically, nearly 7 in 10 schools with K-12 counsellors boasted of graduation rates of 90% or more, compared with only 4 in 10 schools without.
While school counsellors help students with their personal challenges, guidance counsellors help them succeed academically. Typically, median salaries for this career path hover at $58,000, and a graduate degree is required for entry. Busy professionals also often resort to an online masters in school counseling to up-skill while keeping their lives together as they get ready to make a career upgrade.
Child Development Counsellor
According to the US Surgeon General, children are often overlooked in discussions of mental health issues, especially considering that over 15% suffer from some debilitating condition. Children from minority backgrounds, or those who live in inner-city neighbourhoods, face higher risks of mental illnesses such as depression and chronic anxiety. If left untreated, these issues can result in lifelong suffering for the affected. Children from all backgrounds also face the possibility of developmental disorders such as autism and ADHD. They need an empathetic ear to help them overcome these hurdles.
That is where child development counsellors come in. Using superior heuristic skills, they analyse the source of the child’s woes and then use a combination of talk and play therapies to teach critical coping skills. Child development counsellors also ensure that parents are kept abreast of their child’s treatment and give them tips to create an ideal therapeutic environment at home.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this field is expected to grow by almost 9% by 2024. Professionals working in this field can earn well above $50,000 annually. Higher education in Social Work or Youth Counselling is usually required to work as a Child development counsellor, with a Doctorate increasingly preferred.
Domestic Violence Counsellor
Every year, millions of people suffer in silence, subject to violence at the hands of intimate partners. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that one person suffers from domestic violence every 20 minutes in the United States alone. In addition, 25% of all women receive severe injuries, and 10% are raped by their partners every year. This presents a significant risk to the victims of domestic violence. It also leaves them vulnerable to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidal ideation.
Given the seriousness of the matter, it is no wonder that Domestic violence counsellors are needed more than ever. In addition to working with victims of partner violence, these specialised counsellors also work with victims of financial abuse, stalking, elderly abuse, and human trafficking.
You would typically start with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Sociology, or Social Work and follow that up with a Master’s in Mental Health or Domestic Abuse Counselling. Most states will also require 600 or more hours of supervised clinical hours and certification exams and licenses before you can practice freely. These qualifications ensure that you are aware of the scope of your chosen vocation and have the right tools and frameworks at your disposal to do your job well.
Domestic violence counsellors can be found in hospitals, NGOs, and women’s shelters and work with law enforcement. You can expect to earn anywhere between $48,000 and $97,000 annually.
Career counsellors typically work with recent college graduates and other similarly-aged individuals to help them decide how best to apply their degrees to the real world. They have a tremendous impact on the people they cater to, as the Journal of Vocational Studies reports. Good counselling can reduce career indecision and promote life satisfaction. Career counselling is a diverse field, and while there is much to do, the exact nature of your job may vary by institution size.
You will probably take on a more holistic role at smaller colleges, running a mixture of group and individual counselling sessions, organising job fairs, and connecting students with alumni at different organisations. In larger university settings, you may get the freedom to specialise in particular aspects of career counselling, such as resume referrals, internships, or programmatic development.
In addition to a Master’s degree in Career Counselling or College Student Affairs, breaking into this field will also usually require some licensure. Consider getting certifications provided by the National Board of Certified Counsellors to succeed in this specialisation. You can expect to earn anywhere between $60,000 to $90,000 annually.
If you find yourself called to helping others achieve a balanced, healthy state of mind, a career in counselling may be right for you. Being a counsellor means a lot to many people. You are working to help people build meaningful careers; you are helping children struggling with developmental issues cope and victims of domestic abuse. But, no matter how you choose to serve, opportunities to help are ripe for the taking and increasingly available.