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Counseling Degree, Diploma, & Certificate Training Programs

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Earning a counseling degree or similar credential can be a powerful way to begin transforming your life, as well as other people's lives, for the better.

This field is all about promoting the welfare of people in our communities who need extra support to overcome or cope with their challenges. And it's about being an advocate for at-risk groups like young people, the elderly, substance addicts, the homeless, families in crisis, military veterans, or people with mental illnesses or disabilities. With counseling training, you can build a meaningful career that truly stems from your heart.

So follow your compassionate instincts. Check out an appealing selection of on-campus and online counseling schools that can help you move forward. Just enter your zip code to begin!

5 Commonly Asked Questions About Counseling Training & Careers

Colorado Christian University

  • Online
  • Applied Psychology - Clinical Counseling - Bachelor of Science
  • Clinical Mental Health Counseling
    • Marriage & Family Therapy - Master of Arts
    • On Site Curriculum - Master of Arts
    • Online Curriculum - Master of Arts
    • Substance Use Disorders - Master of Arts
  • School Counseling - Master of Arts

Southern New Hampshire University

  • Online
  • Human Services - Substance Abuse - Bachelor of Arts

Waldorf University

  • Online
  • Psychology - Mental Health and Counseling - Bachelor of Arts

Stautzenberger College

  • Brecksville, Ohio
  • Maumee, Ohio
  • Office Addiction Counseling and Social Advocacy - Online

Saint Leo University

  • Online
  • Psychology - Clinical/Counseling - Bachelor of Arts

Grand Canyon University

  • Online
  • Addiction Counseling - Master of Arts
  • Behavioral Health Science with an Emphasis in
    • Childhood and Adolescence Disorders - Bachelor of Science
    • Family Dynamics - Bachelor of Science
    • Infancy and Early Childhood Studies - Bachelor of Science
    • Substance Use Disorders - Bachelor of Science
    • Trauma - Bachelor of Science
  • Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an Emphasis in
    • Childhood and Adolescence Disorders - Master of Science
    • Christian Counseling - Master of Science
    • Marriage and Family Therapy - Master of Science
    • Trauma - Master of Science
  • Counseling with an Emphasis in Addiction, Chemical Dependency, and Substance Abuse - Bachelor of Science
  • Counselor Education and Supervision
    • Qualitative - Doctor of Philosophy
    • Quantitative - Doctor of Philosophy
  • Mental Health and Wellness with an Emphasis in
    • Christian Ministry - Master of Science
    • Community Mental Health Administration - Master of Science
    • Family Dynamics - Master of Science
    • Grief and Bereavement - Master of Science
    • Integrated Health - Master of Science
    • Prevention - Master of Science
  • Psychology with an Emphasis in Life Coaching - Master of Science
  • School Counseling - Master of Education - Licensure


  • Online
  • Mental Health Technician

5 Commonly Asked Questions About Counseling Training & Careers

Counseling Training & CareersWhat could be more meaningful than empowering someone who needs a helping hand? Some of the most rewarding jobs in the psychology field involve counseling. Counselors and other professionals in this field get to play a part in doing that every day. Without judgment, they provide the tools, insights, and supports clients need to cope, build skills, improve resiliency, and change their quality of life for the better.

High-quality counselors and therapists are needed in a diverse and wide variety of areas, so specialization could be an important consideration if you're thinking about getting a counseling degree. This is just a sampling of reasons people need or want therapy:

  • Abuse, trauma, and PTSD
  • Adolescent drug/alcohol use and behavioral issues
  • Anxiety and panic disorders
  • Chronic health condition and pain
  • Cultural and racial issues
  • Disabilities
  • Disordered eating, self-image, and body dysmorphia
  • Gender and sexual orientation
  • Grief and loss
  • Isolation and loneliness, especially among the elderly
  • Mood disorders (including bipolar and major depression)
  • Neurodiversity (including ADHD and autism spectrum disorders)
  • Personality disorders (including obsessive, dramatic, and anxious subtypes)
  • Poverty and homelessness
  • Relationships and family issues
  • Self-improvement
  • Sexual health and/or dysfunction
  • Spiritual or religious guidance
  • Stress
  • Substance abuse and addictions
  • Suicidality

It can be sobering to think about the reasons people all around us need mental and emotional help. But in the difficulties and growing pains humans experience, there is also great opportunity for hope, because you and others like you are motivated to improve people's lives. As a counseling professional, you could focus on helping those who are at rock-bottom get on their feet again. You could provide preventative and maintenance care for relationships that are functioning but at-risk. You could help someone connect with themselves in a way that dramatically changes their outlook on life. The possibilities for the positive impact you can have are endless.

You can make a meaningful impact with the right training. Find out what you need to know about the counseling field by exploring the following answers to five common questions:

1. What Degree Do You Need to Be a Counselor?

It depends. Most professional counselors have at least a bachelor's degree or master's degree in counseling. That's because most states require a bachelor's or higher for licensing or certification to practice as a counselor. However, those requirements can vary from state to state. And they can also vary between different counseling professions.

What is a master's degree good for when it comes to counseling careers? You'll likely need one if you want to become a clinical mental health counselor, family therapist, rehabilitation counselor, or school or career counselor. There are circumstantial exceptions in some states where a limited version of these roles can be achieved with a bachelor's degree.

When it comes to becoming a substance abuse counselor, training requirements vary even more. They depend on factors like where you intend to work and the responsibilities you want to have. As a result, it's possible to enter the field of addiction and behavioral disorder counseling with a diploma, certificate, or associate degree. The exceptions often arise if you want to do things like engage in one-on-one counseling sessions or go into private practice. In those cases, you almost always need a master's degree.

2. Can You Become a Counselor Without a Degree?

Yes. However, this answer generally only applies to becoming a substance abuse counselor in a group treatment or community facility. In that case, a diploma or certificate may be all you need. But it really depends on your state's regulations and the preferences of individual employers. Generally, the higher level of counseling education you have, the better and more abundant your opportunities are likely to be.

3. What Careers Can You Pursue With a Counseling Education?

Potentially, you can choose from a very wide range of career pursuits. Depending on the academic credentials you earn, you may decide to explore areas such as:

  • Mental health counseling: This important field involves helping people understand and cope with their mental illnesses while finding ways to lead more productive and fulfilling lives. It can also involve grief counseling and help with emotional disorders. (Note that mental health counselors are different from psychologists or psychiatrists. And they don't prescribe any medications.)
  • Marriage or family therapy: In this area, the focus is on helping people improve their relationships with loved ones through better understanding and strategic actions.
  • Rehabilitation counseling: Professionals in this field help people who have disabilities adjust to their limitations, live as independently as possible, and manage the social and vocational effects of their conditions.
  • Behavioral or substance addiction counseling: This area involves helping people identify, understand, and recover from harmful dependencies on alcohol, drugs, or obsessive behaviors relating to sex, gambling, or eating.
  • School or career counseling: School counselors guide students in their social and academic development at any education level. Career counselors help career-seekers identify their interests and abilities (perhaps using a career test for adults) and choose appropriate career and educational paths.
  • Social work: In this field, professionals respond to social crisis situations like child, elder, or spousal abuse and help those affected get the support they need to overcome or cope with the mental, emotional, and physical consequences of their actions or those of others.
  • Human services assistance: In this broad area, people work as assistants under the supervision of counselors, psychologists, social workers, or other professionals with more experience or advanced degrees. They do things like helping disadvantaged people find and access community services, monitoring clients being helped, coordinating daily activities, and assisting with basic case management tasks. Depending on where they work, they might help youth, families, military veterans, senior citizens, disabled people, addicts, homeless people, recent immigrants, people with mental health disorders, or even current or former prisoners.

Clearly, people with counseling degrees and similar credentials can build careers in an interesting variety of areas. And the work they do often complements or overlaps the work done by people who've earned degrees in psychology or the social sciences. As a result, the potential employment settings are very diverse. They can include:

  • Hospitals
  • Mental health centers
  • Colleges and other post-secondary schools
  • Elementary, middle, and high schools
  • Private or community health clinics
  • Prisons and juvenile detention facilities
  • Vocational rehabilitation centers
  • Child welfare and family services agencies
  • Residential care and independent-living facilities
  • Insurance companies
  • Employment agencies
  • Overnight detox centers
  • Halfway houses
  • Parole or probation agencies
  • Homeless shelters
  • Substance abuse treatment centers
  • Non-profit community outreach organizations
  • Military bases

4. How Much Do Counseling Professionals Make?

Counseling ProfessionalsCounselors and other people in this field can earn good incomes, especially as they gain experience or advance their educational credentials. The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program provides the median and top-end salaries from 2020 for a variety of different roles:

  • Social workers: $64,210 / over $96,140
  • School or career counselors: $56,310 / over $94,690
  • Marriage and family therapists: $51,340 / over $92,930
  • Mental health and substance abuse counselors: $47,660 / over $78,700
  • Rehabilitation counselors: $37,530 / over $66,180
  • Social and human services assistants: $24,950 / over $56,080

5. How Strong Is the Demand for Counselors?

The demand for nearly all types of counselors and similar professionals is expected to remain high for several reasons. For example, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more Americans now have access to insurance that covers mental health services. The number of older adults in the U.S. is rising quickly, leading to more need for counselors and social assistants who work with the elderly. School enrollments are expected to keep growing across the nation. And the criminal justice system is increasingly putting drug offenders into rehab for their addictions instead of just sending them to jail.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook states that between 2019 and 2029, employment is projected to grow by the following percentages for these occupations:

  • Substance abuse and behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors: 25 percent
  • Marriage and family therapists: 22 percent
  • Social and human services assistants: 17 percent
  • Social workers: 13 percent
  • School or career counselors: 8 percent
  • Rehabilitation counselors: 10 percent

Each of the above professions is classified by the BLS as having much faster than average growth.

Where to Begin

Start by exploring the schools where you can earn a counseling degree or other type of credential in this field. And consider whether on-campus or online counseling programs will work best for you. The options are easy to find. Simply perform a quick search by entering your current zip code below!