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Counseling Schools

All counselors aim to help people work through challenges and make better decisions, but how they do this (and who they counsel) can vary tremendously. A school or career counselor's role is much different from that of a marriage and family therapist or mental health counselor -- and so is their training. This is precisely why counseling schools and degree programs so often allow students to specialize their educations, and why so many professional organizations offer certifications for those already in the field. The first step toward getting the right education for your career goals is knowing your options. Read on to learn more.

Counseling specializations

Counselors can help people cope with personal difficulties, make better career choices and even excel in the classroom. With so much diversity in the field, specialized training is key. For students attending counseling trade schools, that usually means enrolling in a specialized degree program that suits their long-term career goals. In some cases, that means earning a different degree altogether (think: clinical mental health versus educational psychology). Some students may earn a more general degree in a field like counseling or psychology, but opt to specialize their training through coursework, minors and school-linked specializations. The following list of counseling specializations provides a snapshot for just how varied these specializations can be.

  • Mental health counseling. Mental health counselors treat individuals, families or groups dealing with a variety of issues, like anxiety, grief or depression. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov) reports that students enrolled in these types of programs are trained to recognize and treat various mental and emotional disorders.
  • Marriage and family therapy. Marriage and family counselors tend to work with individuals, couples or families who want to improve their interpersonal relationships or overcome challenges in the family dynamic. According to the BLS, students enrolled in MFT programs study marriage, family life and other relationships that can impact one's mental and emotional wellbeing.
  • School counseling. School counselors help students overcome learning challenges, improve decision-making skills and make better school and (eventually) career choices. The BLS reports that school counselors typically specialize in working with elementary, middle and high school students, or college students specifically. Because the needs of each group vary, counseling schools often taylor programs accordingly.
  • Career counseling. Career counselors can work with individual clients, or in a college or organizational setting. They help students evaluate their skills, interests and career aptitudes so that they can find schools or jobs that speak to them. Some also counsel clients through the job-seeking process, helping them perfect their resume, interview and networking skills.
  • Substance abuse counseling. Substance abuse counselors help clients recognize and manage addiction, especially -- but not exclusively -- to drugs and alcohol.

Note that just as the duties and clientele of each of these professionals vary, so do their education and licensing requirements.

Counseling certifications and degrees

When evaluating programs at counseling trade schools, it pays to know what type of training employers prefer (or downright require) in your chosen field. Some counselors are required to invest in more training than others. Here is a breakdown of some of the most common counseling credentials available, and the professionals who earn them.

  • Postsecondary certificates. Postsecondary certificates are the most basic counseling credential available. They vary in breadth and length, but usually require less than two years of study. In many states, substance abuse counselors complete postsecondary certificates before entering the field.
  • Associate degrees. Associate degrees are a bit more thorough than postsecondary certificates, usually requiring at least two years of study. As with postsecondary certificates, associate degrees are a popular option for substance abuse counselors who do not intend to work in private practice.
  • Bachelor's degrees. Students attending counseling schools usually use bachelor's degrees as stepping stones to more advanced programs. The BLS reports that mental health, school and marriage and family counselors must each earn master's degrees before they can enter the field. Many master's level programs require applicants to have a bachelor's degree in a relevant field for admission.
  • Master's degrees. As noted above, master's degrees are an entry-level requirement for many counselors, including mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and school and career counselors. The BLS notes that most states also require substance abuse counselors to earn master's degrees if they hope to work in private practice.
  • Doctoral degrees. Few counselors are required to earn doctoral degrees, but they are a must for those who want to segue into related fields, like clinical psychology or psychiatry. Counselors who want to teach, particularly at the graduate level, are also often required to earn doctoral degrees.

A note about professional certifications and licenses

Those who graduate from counseling vocational schools may choose to pursue additional professional certification, often through a professional organization, to further specialize and certify their training. States may also require certification or licensure, depending on the field. The BLS reports that mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists and public school counselors are required to be licensed to practice, as are substance abuse counselors who intend to work in private practice. The BLS notes that employers also increasingly prefer to hire licensed career counselors, though it is not usually a requirement of employment. Note that certification and licensure requirements vary tremendously, but usually entail meeting minimum education requirements, completing a certain number of clinical hours in the field and passing a state-recognized exam.

Counselor salary and career outlook

Students attending counseling trade schools often want to know how much they can expect to earn -- and how quickly they can get a job -- upon graduation. This is tricky to answer since so many factors influence earnings and career outlook. There are some general trends, however. The following list of counseling careers along with their BLS-reported national median 2013 salaries may help provide perspective. Note that earnings tend to vary with location, education and experience.

  • Mental health counselors: $43,700
  • Marriage and family therapists: $51,690
  • School and vocational counselors: $56,160
  • Substance abuse counselors: $41,090

Education and experience can also impact career outlook. Generally speaking, the more you have of either, the better off you may be. That means counselors who invest in voluntary certifications or degrees that exceed baseline requirements may find a job faster than their lesser-trained career competition, and could advance through the ranks more quickly once hired. This is not a hard-and-fast rule, however, so it pays to do your research. We recommend contacting prospective schools to learn more about specific programs. In many cases, schools can even provide career placement statistics and average beginning salaries for their graduates. The BLS and professional organizations can help, too.

Sources:

Mental Health counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm

School and Career Counselors, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/school-and-career-counselors.htm

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-and-behavioral-disorder-counselors.htm

Projections Central, State Occupational Projections, Long Term Occupational Projections, http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm

May 2013 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: United States, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm

Counseling Schools
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At University of Phoenix, we believe everyone deserves access to higher education.

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Campus Locations :

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Clearfield: 1366 Legend Hills Drive Clearfield, UT 84015

Westminster: 8700 Turnpike Drive Westminster, CO 80030

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Henderson: 7777 Eastgate Road Henderson, NV 89011

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Colorado Springs: 2 North Cascade Avenue Suite 100 Colorado Springs, CO 80903

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Southfield: 26261 Evergreen Road Southfield, MI 48076

Pleasant Grove: 2174 West Grove Parkway Pleasant Grove, UT 84062

Santa Teresa: 1270 Country Club Road Santa Teresa, NM 88008

Salt Lake City: 5373 S Green Street Suite 300 Salt Lake City, UT 84123

Albuquerque: 7471 Pan American West Freeway NE Albuquerque, NM 87109

Guaynabo: B7 Calle Tabonuco Suite 700 Guaynabo, PR 00968

Ontario: 3110 E. Guasti Road Ontario, CA 91761

Bakersfield: 4900 California Ave. Bakersfield, CA 93309

Palm Desert: 75153 Merle Dr. Palm Desert, CA 92211

Lathrop: 17000 S. Harlan Road Lathrop, CA 95330

San Diego: 3890 Murphy Canyon Road Suite 100 San Diego, CA 92123

Visalia: 301 East Acequia Ave Visalia, CA 93291

Livermore: 2481 Constitution Drive Livermore, CA 94551

Salida: 5330 Pirrone Road Salida, CA 95368

El Centro: 3095 N. Imperial Avenue Suite 101 El Centro, CA 92243

Gardena: 1515 W. 190th Gardena, CA 90248

Oakland: 1200 Clay Street Oakland, CA 94612

San Marcos: 277 Rancheros Drive San Marcos, CA 92069

Costa Mesa: 3150 Bristol Street, Suite 100, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Fresno: 45 East River Park Place West Suite 101 Fresno, CA 93720

Murrieta: 25240 Hancock Avenue Murrieta, CA 92562

Diamond Bar: 1370 S. Valley Vista Dr. Diamond Bar, CA 91765

Pasadena: 299 N. Euclid Avenue Pasadena, CA 91101

Los Angeles: 14320 Firestone Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90038

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Lancaster: 1220 W. Avenue J Lancaster, CA 93534

Sacramento: 1760 Creekside Oaks Drive Suite 100 Sacramento, CA 95833

Beale AFB: 17849 16 Street Beale AFB, CA 95903

San Jose: 3590 N. First St San Jose, CA 95134

San Bernardino: 451 E. Vanderbilt Way Suite 100 San Bernardino, CA 92408

Woodland Hills: 5955 DeSoto Ave Woodland Hills, CA 91367

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Yuma: 899 East Plaza Circle Yuma, AZ 85365

Fort Lauderdale: 550 W. Cypress Creek Road Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309

Springfield: 1343 East Kingsley Street Suite B,C Springfield, MO 65804

Hollywood: 2400 SW 145th Avenue Hollywood, FL 33027

Dallas: 12400 Coit Road Suite 200 Dallas, TX 75251

Flowood: 120 Stone Creek Blvd. Suite 200 Flowood, MS 39232

Arlington: 3900 Arlington Highlands Boulevard Suite 237 Arlington, TX 76018

Cordova: 65 Germantown Court Suite 100 Cordova, TN 38018

Houston: 4888 Loop Central Drive Houston, TX 77081

Nashville: 616 Marriott Drive Suite 150 Nashville, TN 37214

Spring: 24624 Interstate 45 Spring, TX 77386

Meridian: 3080 East Gentry Way Suite 150 Meridian, ID 83642

With more than 300 online and residential areas of study, Liberty offers programs from the certificate to doctoral level.

Programs : MA in Professional Counseling - 60 Hour, PhD in Counseling - Professional Counseling, PhD Counseling: Counselor ED and Supervision, and more..

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Lynchburg: 1971 University Boulevard Lynchburg, VA 24502

Earn Your Diploma from Home!

Programs : Drug & Alcohol Treatment Specialist, and more..

Campus Locations :

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Welcome to Argosy University Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges:  College of Behavioral Sciences, Graduate School of Business and Management, College of Education,  College of Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Creative Arts and Design, College of Clinical Psychology and Western State College of Law at Argosy University as well as certificate programs in many areas.

Programs : Counseling Psychology (EdD), Counseling Psychology (MA), Clinical Mental Health Counseling (MA), and more..

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Denver: 7600 E. Eastman Avenue Denver, CO 80231

Chicago: 225 N. Michigan Ave, Suite 1300 Chicago, IL 60601

Seattle: 2601-A Elliott Avenue Seattle, WA 98121

San Diego: 1615 Murray Canyon Road, Suite 100 San Diego, CA 92108

Arlington: 1550 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 600 Arlington, VA 22209

Alameda: 1005 Atlantic Avenue Alameda, CA 94501

Phoenix: 2233 West Dunlap Avenue Phoenix, AZ 85021

Schaumburg: 999 North Plaza Drive, Suite 111 Schaumburg, IL 60173

Nashville: 100 Centerview Drive, Suite 225 Nashville, TN 37214

Draper: 121 W Election Road, Suite 300 Draper, UT 84020

Saint Paul: 1515 Central Parkway Saint Paul, MN 55121

Want to study at a UK university without leaving your house? The University of Liverpool offers online Masters and Doctoral programmes.

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Campus Locations :

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Get a professional education designed with your future in mind at Kaplan University.

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Lewiston: 475 Lisbon Street Lewiston, ME 04240

Mason City: 100 1st Street NW Mason City, IA 50401

Cedar Falls: 7009 Nordic Drive Cedar Falls, IA 50613

Lincoln: 1821 K Street Lincoln, NE 68501

Davenport: 1801 East Kimberly Road Suite 1 Davenport, IA 52807

Urbandale: 4655 121st Street Urbandale, IA 50323

Study at Wake Forest University, a university dedicated to educating the whole person since 1834.

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Join the community of thought leaders at University of the Rockies. Pursue your graduate degree from the University’s School of Professional Psychology or School of Organizational Leadership.

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Denver: 1202 16th Street Denver, CO 80202

Pursue a certificate, master, or doctorate degree in Psychology at The Chicago School for Professional Psychology.

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Campus Locations :

Chicago: 325 N Wells St. Chicago, IL 60654

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At Globe University we prepare students for exciting careers in high-value fields. 

Programs : Certificate Mental Health Technician, and more..

Campus Locations :

Saint Paul: 8089 Globe Drive Saint Paul, MN 55125

Madison: 4901 Eastpark Blvd Madison, WI 53718

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