The Highest Paying Counseling Jobs

The counseling industry offers career seekers several options in this rapidly growing field. The opportunities for securing positions within one of the fields included vary, but can be found in several different types of organizations and companies. Many different factors contribute to salary and compensation expectations. Geographic location, qualifications, license and experience determine the highest-paying counseling jobs. The number of positions available in various segments of this profession continues to grow even in these difficult economic times. A large number of job opportunities continue to exceed the number of graduate entering these programs.

Education and training requirements for counselors vary with the chosen job specialty. A contributing factor for determining salaries is based on requirements for a particular position. Those requiring more specialized training, knowledge, experience and practice demand more compensation. License requirements also play a key role in determining the salaries.

School Counselor

High school and elementary school counselors work directly with student and their parents. Their goal is providing guidance for individual students and helping them develop social skills in order to succeed. The social aspects of counseling public and private school students include working on self-concept issues, dealing with peer pressure, depression and anger management. Bullying issues play a major role for counselors. A school counselor is responsible for helping students and parents make curriculum decisions and in deciding the proper courses to taking. The responsibility for testing and assessment is another duty assigned to counselors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2010 median pay for a school counselor was $53,380 per year. In most school districts, salary is based on experience.

Mental Health and Marriage and Family Counselor

Mental health counselor train in the techniques needed to assess various mental health issues including suicidal impulses, stress, low self-esteem anxiety and addictions. They work with other mental health specialists such as psychiatrists and psychologists. They address emotional disorders and work with clients in promoting mental health. Counseling is usually done on an individual basis, but many sessions focus on groups. They attempt to identify specific behaviors and develop personalized programs for clients. Marriage counselors work to modify perceptions and enhance communication among family members in order to establish better family relations. The median salary range for mental health counselors in May 2010 was $38,150, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Marriage and family counselors earned in the range of $45,720. This occupation is expected to grow as the population grows. Many insurance companies now provide coverage and some reimbursement for these services.

Rehabilitation Counselor

Rehabilitation counselors assist people suffering from mental, physical, developmental, emotional and cognitive disabilities. They work with individuals to help them achieve career and personal goals and to plan for independent living goals. They help these individuals through assessment and appraisal, individual and group counseling treatment interventions and placement services when applicable. They work for Human Resources Departments for various organizations ensuring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Some work in hospitals to provide counseling and advocacy for patients recovering from traumatic brain injuries or loss of a limb. They sometimes work as part of a team. The median pay for a rehabilitation counselor in 2010 averaged $42,480. Potential salaries range from $51,500 to $58,900 per year.

Career Counselor

Career counselors or vocational counselors provide career-counseling services outside the school setting. They primarily focus on assisting people in making career decisions. They help clients explore the various career options by evaluating their training, education, interests, skills, aptitude and personality traits. They administer achievement and aptitude tests to aid the client in making the right decision. Other duties of a career counselor might include working closely with people experiencing stress from a job loss or any other work or career transition problem. The median salary for a vocational counselor is $60,558 with a potential for around $70,710.

Gerontological Counselor

As the general populace of the country ages, demand for gerontological counselors continues to grow. More and more counselors are required to assist elderly individuals cope with life changes, emotional disorders and health disorders. They work with individuals at senior centers, hospitals and convalescent centers. Their duties include meeting regularly with seniors and their family members to conduct evaluations and make recommendations based on individual assessment. A gerontological counselor must hold a graduate degree and receive specialized training in elder care. Some colleges now offer degree programs specifically designed for individuals who desire to work exclusively with seniors. A gerontological counselor must possess the ability and skills to solve individual problems related to the elderly and exhibit compassion and empathy toward senior citizens. In addition to working directly with seniors, many gerontological counselors write and publish academic journals with topics applicable to elderly clients. They organize and conduct seminars in assisted living and retirement communities. Licensing requirements vary by states, but most require a separate license for this type of counselor. In addition, most states require at least 3,000 hours of experience in a clinical setting prior to licensing. Since gerontological counselors work in the healthcare field, they usually earn a high salary based on training and experience. Since this is a relatively new field of counseling, there is not much history of salaries given by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2006, the median salary was $60,200. The salary depends on the geographic location and the particular job. Convalescent centers and assisted living centers usually pay a higher salary.