A counselor is considered an entry-level position with moderate on-the-job training. A high school diploma is normally required. According to the BLS, the median salary was slightly over $38,000 or $18 per hour in 2010. Counselors that work in professional settings will normally have job benefits including insurance and paid time off.
The education requirements for the position vary by the place of employment and job responsibilities. Individual states will have requirements for licensing and certification. Counselors may work in self-help group settings, community centers, mental health clinics, hospitals, prisons or even private practices.
Residential and outpatient center wages average $33,000 to $35,000 per year. Working in hospitals, Veteran's centers or private practices will normally require formal education. Those in private practice or hospital settings receive wages in the $45,000 per year range.
Counselors may work with individuals that have an addiction to drugs or alcohol. They may deal with multiple addiction issues. The clients they work with might be seeking help voluntarily or due to a court order.
Many techniques may be used in rehabilitation and recovery. A counselor will often have to work with individuals that are quitting an addiction cold turkey. This can present both physical and emotional hardship for the addict. Counselors are not medical personnel and cannot prescribe medications. To provide these services, a medical degree is required.
Duties include evaluating the client's health and willingness to participate in treatment. A counselor will help an individual determine what type of treatment will work and assist the individual in setting goals. The counselor may suggest treatment options and recommend medical providers. Counselors will also work with families to help all members develop healthy life skills. Individual and family services counselors receive approximately $37,000 per year.
An effective counselor must be compassionate and willing to listen. The counselor will need to have a great deal of patience and the ability to work with individuals who are angry or distressed.
The BLS predicts a job growth of over 25% through 2020, offering interested individuals many opportunities to become counselors. A counseling position offers extensive room for growth. Continuing education can provide a degree in psychology or psychiatry. Similar positions include assisting in Social and Human Services. Starting as a volunteer in a group setting is an excellent entry-level option.