Finding Employment as a Counselor

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In this high pressure and endlessly complicated world, it is so easy for people to find themselves floundering in situations no one prepared them for.

Ideally, good preparation would be the key to a healthy, happy life, but it would be a monumental and ultimately fruitless task to try and predict where today’s society would take any one individual. It’s impossible to prepare for everything!

For this reason and for all those unforeseen situations, society needs counselors. The complexities of modern life leave people requiring counseling, in a vast array of different spheres. A search of dedicated online sites, general employment sites, local government and education sites and bulletins will more than likely provide information on school counseling jobs, home counseling jobs, career counseling jobs, college career counseling jobs and many more.

Opportunities are on the increase as intervention strategies seek to prevent or minimize the harm done by stressful situations and psychological imbalances. All of which means, a counselor may find themselves working in a variety of locations under different working conditions and for different salaries.


A home or office based counselor may be the ideal stereotype, with regular hours, a familiar, safe location, and, potentially, the greatest income. Drug and alcohol counselors may find themselves working in a variety of clinics or community facilities; their work may even take them to hospitals, prisons, young offender centers, and so on.

School counselors may have an easily defined location. The school itself and an office within. But even then it isn’t so simple. In the complicated quest to see our children safely through to maturity a school counselor will need to work with a variety of interested parties and adapt their hours to suit. Meetings with parents or students might easily take place outside school hours. Perhaps even in the student’s home. The counselor may also have to work with psychological or social work teams based elsewhere. Attending school and community meetings may also be a part of the school counselor job.

Disability counselors will usually work within the premises of a hospital facility or clinic. Some home visits may be necessary, however.


Ideally, in most instances the counselor would work regular hours, nine to five, Monday to Friday, and in many instances this may be the case. But by the very nature of the job this situation can not be relied on. Counseling is a “people centered” profession and the counselor may well be expected to adapt his or her working hours to suit the special needs of the client base.


Peer counseling and camp counseling may be a good indicator of aptitude, but these will not qualify an applicant for a job as a bona fide counselor. Likewise, an ability to listen and empathize might be highly desirable attributes in the profession but, without adequate professional training added on top, they will not land you that home counseling job or a college career counseling job.

Requirements do, however, vary depending on the type of counseling involved. Some school jobs only require a recognized counseling qualification, while some require a teaching qualification as well.

Basic counseling qualification may require additional “add-ons,” that is, knowledge or qualifications in other fields. For instance, those looking for a career counselor job may benefit from a background in education and employment legislation. Grief and disability counseling may require psychology or even medical qualifications. Applicants for a home counselor job may well be expected to have a master’s degree.


Salaries in counseling will vary wildly from the community counselor giving his or her time to charitable projects, through to the private counselor earning an impressive hourly rate from a full list of clients.

For counselors employed in schools and colleges the rate will most likely be set by the education authority and be fairly uniform, with variations dependent on length of tenure and extra duties. The exception to this situation will, of course, be the counselor employed by a private school where the salary is likely to be set by the board of governors and will be dependent on factors they deem to be important.

Finding a Counseling Job

The methods of finding counseling jobs are varied but, thankfully not as varied as the types of counseling jobs might suggest. Those looking to work as counselors in schools and colleges would be well advised to approach the various state boards of education.
Consider your other qualifications and experience. Might those employers have a use for a counselor with your unique background?

Perhaps your specialty interest is in family or relationship counseling. If this is the case, you might think about setting up in practice for yourself.

Approach major counseling organizations, such as the American Counseling Association. Many vacancies in the field will be brought to their attention first. You may also choose to subscribe to one or more professional journals.

Use the Internet. There are a huge number of recruitment sites out there. Many of them will have counseling vacancies on their books. Some sites may even specialize in jobs in this profession.

Working with a nonprofit organization (for free), perhaps in the fields of drug, solvent or alcohol abuse, will not only gain you valuable experience, but it will also keep you in contact with others who may know about employment opportunities. Then, when you apply for that first paid job you will already have experience behind you come interview time.
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