The demand for counselors from various specialties is on the rise, making this profession one of the most stable and fastest growing jobs in the nation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, counselors hold more than 600,000 jobs in the United States and the overall employment of counselors is expected to increase by 18 percent within the next decade.
For counselors specializing in substance abuse and behavioral problems, there is an expected 21 percent of growth in employment. As the society becomes more exposed to addiction problems, more people seek treatment through therapy or by going into rehabilitation centers. More counselors are also needed to work for the government as people who go to jail for substance abuse are required by law to get treated for their addiction.
For counselors specializing in educational, vocational and school counseling, employment is projected to grow by as much as 14 percent within the next 10 years. Most especially today where there is an increase of job losses, more adults are becoming accepting of the counseling services which are available to them. Furthermore, the duties of school counselors are starting to expand resulting in an increase in their employment as well. Counselors are employed by schools, colleges and universities in order to have more involvement in crisis, drug and substance abuse, and suicide prevention among students, faculty and administrative personnel.
There is also an expected growth of 19 percent in rehabilitation counseling as the number of people, especially from elderly population, needing rehabilitation services continue to increase. In addition, the demand for mental health counselors are also expected to increase by 24 percent as more individuals are becoming more willing to seek treatment for mental and emotional disorders such as anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and trauma. Employment of marriage and family therapists are expected to grow as well as it is becoming more common for families to seek help in solving any marital and family problems.
Education requirements in order to become a counselor vary since they depend on the occupational specialty and the State board requirements for licensure. Generally, counselors need to obtain a masters’ degree or a doctorate degree to be eligible for licensure. A prospective counselor may choose any field of study ranging from marriage and family therapy, substance abuse counseling, rehabilitation counseling, school counseling, clinical mental health, and gerontological counseling.
The core courses in the different counseling programs are grouped into specific areas. There are courses that are related to the human growth and development, cultural diversity, gender, sex and relationships, career development, research process, counseling techniques, ethics, clinical counseling, and substance abuse. Formal classroom instruction will provide future counselors the knowledge and understanding they need in order to deliver high quality services to their clients. In addition to classroom instruction, students are also required to complete a specified number of hours doing hands-on or clinical training in order to help them apply what they have learned in a more practical setting.