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15 Highest Paying Counseling Degree Jobs

Counseling is a broad field of study which includes different specialties. Based on one’s interests and career goals, students choose from these specialties and go on to complete advanced degrees. They are trained to become caring and competent counselors who can offer lasting support to people in their care. Contrary to common belief, counseling is not just about treating the mentally ill or disturbed cases but often about preventive services as well. Counselors play a significant role in the life of students, couples, families, and individuals who are looking for guidance and support to lead happier lives.

Students can lay the foundation for a career in counseling by earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field that may result in some entry-level positions. But to be a licensed counselor, it is necessary to have a master’s degree. Some people even pursue doctoral degrees that allow them to hold supervisory and educator positions. Students also have to take state-based licensure exams to practice as a professional. Counseling is a promising profession. While average salaries differ between specialties, the overall earnings are often higher than the national average.

In this article, we have explored the 15 highest paying counseling degree jobs and their average salaries per year. The potential to grow in these jobs is immense, especially with an advanced degree.

#1 Marriage Counselor

Marriage counseling is a specialized field of counseling that works on the challenges present within the relationships, marriages, and partnerships. They work to identify the issues that have led to a strain in a relationship through couples and individual assessment. They work in independent practices, for social services, and also with the courts to help couples resolve their issues, or at least try before going their separate ways. Students need to complete a master’s degree program and get the necessary state licensure before working in this field. Courses include Marital and Family Therapy, Intervention in Structural and Strategic Family Therapy, Human Sexuality and Sexual Dysfunction, and Couples Therapy, among others.
Average salary per year: $134,519

#2 Geriatric Counselor

Geriatric counselors offer immense care and support for our rapidly aging population. Some of the common issues that they deal with are loneliness, long-term illness, fear of death, or regret. As we grow older, we begin to grapple with myriad issues like monetary concerns, interpersonal discord, memory loss, and the fear of losing so many friends and family. The primary responsibility of these counselors is to analyze the behavior, emotions, phobias, and concerns of the elderly to develop the right treatment plan and help enhance the quality of their lives. Students need to complete a master’s degree in counseling from an accredited university and take part in the supervised practicum to gain the necessary skills to help their clients. Students also need to apply for licensure to practice and get a graduate certification in gerontological counseling.
Average salary per year: $74,522

#3 Family Counselor

Counselors who specialize in family and relationships work with individuals and entire families to help them lead happy and stable lives. Their work spans from assisting people in coping with relationship problems, stressful careers, parent-child issues, eating disorders, and abusive cases within the family system, among others. Family counselors talk to and assess all members of a family in a group or individually to identify the areas that need to be worked on and resolved. They implement family sessions or projects to promote honest discussions to help resolve issues. To become a family counselor, students need to complete a master’s degree specializing in family counseling or marriage and family counseling. They also need to get state licensure to practice.
Average salary per year: $72,655

#4 Sports Psychologist

Sports psychologists work with sports teams and their members to promote the positive mental health of athletes. They help them overcome various mental and emotional obstacles to aid in their success on the field. The minimum qualification to get into the field is a master’s degree with the required certifications. However, to grow into this competitive profession, students are encouraged to study further and obtain a Ph.D. to be a sports psychologist. As a part of the degree completion process, students are also expected to complete an internship in college with a sports team. Professionals need to be licensed in their respective states and pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology along with one or two years of professional experience to get into a full-time role.
Average salary per year: $72,632

#5 School Counselor

School counselors offering guidance and support to students to develop their educational goals, guide them in choosing the right career and in their college planning process, and also deal with the personal issues that can impede their development. To become a school counselor, one needs to enroll and complete a master’s degree in school counseling from an accredited university. The intensive coursework combines theories and applied techniques that prepare them for real-life counseling work. The curriculum covers all areas of social, emotional, mental, and behavioral issues that a student may face along with ways to counsel them.
Average salary per year: $59,661

#6 Mental Health Counselor

Mental health counseling is an in-demand profession that seeks to help people manage their mental health. These experts are responsible for diagnosing, offering assessment, and treating different types of common mental health disorders. They work with people of various ages and demographic backgrounds. Mental health counselors apply different techniques like psychotherapy, general individual counseling, trauma-based individual therapies, cross-cultural counseling, abnormal psychology, and cognitive behavior therapy to treat their patients. Students need to complete a master’s degree program in mental health counseling or an advanced degree that offers mental health specialization. They also need the necessary state licensure to practice in this field.
Average salary per year: $57,984

#7 Career Counselor

Career counselors work in various educational and social settings and act as guides for students and future professionals in their search for the right career. They often perform assessments to gauge a student’s skills to help them to match them with the right profession. In an increasingly competitive world, students need more help than ever to get into a career that best suits their skills and interests so that they can grow into successful professionals. In most cases, students have to complete a master’s degree in counseling to get into a permanent position with an educational institute. They, too, need to explore the state licensure rules in order to get their license for professional practice.
Average salary per year: $56,724

#8 Domestic Violence Counselor

Domestic violence is a prevalent issue that has warranted the need for domestic violence counselors. These counselors work in social service agencies, shelters, schools, mental health facilities, and protective service agencies to help people deal with their trauma. They work with domestic violence victims, help them get out of abusive relationships, and overcome the consequences of trauma that they have suffered. The students need to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to start working as domestic violence counselors, but they need a master’s degree to grow in this field. To get licensure for clinical practice, students need to complete an accredited master’s degree, internships, and a state-based licensing exam.
Average salary per year: $55,770

#9 Grief Counselor

Grief or bereavement counselors play an important role in the lives of many who are suffering from grief and trauma and need help overcoming them. These counselors use specialized techniques for groups as well as individuals to help promote healthy coping strategies. They make it easy for people to open up and talk about their loss, share, and reach a point of catharsis, which will then help them move on. This is an important area of counseling since grief counseling can help people not just cope but deal with depression from loss, which often leads to devastating consequences. The minimum requirement to be grief counselors is to complete a master’s degree in counseling, often with a specialization or supervised practicum experience in grief counseling. But achieving this degree program is not the only step. Students also need to apply for licensure to practice.
Average salary per year: $54,935

#10 Substance Abuse Counselor

With rising opioid and drug issues, substance abuse counselors are in high demand. They offer support and counseling to people who are working through or have experienced substance abuse issues. These counselors analyze the behavior patterns and identify the effects of using these dangerous substances. Then they recommend treatment plans and lifestyle changes to help people lead healthier lives. To work as professional substance abuse counselors, students need to complete a master’s degree program following a supervised work experience to get the licensure within the state.
Average salary per year: $53,520

#11 Employment Counselor

The job of an employment counselor is to help people understand the relevant skills that they have, along with their interests and abilities. They assess and evaluate clients to determine their core skills and strengths that will help them get into the right professional and grow in the workplace. To start a career in this field, the professionals need to have a master of education or a master’s in counseling with a focus on career counseling. Employment counselors work in various settings, from social services, government agencies, educational settings as well as in independent practices.
Average salary per year: $50,607

#12 Pediatric Counselor

Pediatric counseling is a rapidly growing field that seeks to help young children cope with various issues related to social, familial, mental health. They also focus on learning disabilities and traumatic life events that affect kids. Pediatric counselors follow specific specialized techniques to analyze and offer treatment. To start working as professional pediatric counselors, students need to complete a master’s degree in counseling from an accredited university with a specialization in youth counseling or pediatrics. In most cases, however, students need to complete a doctoral program to practice in clinical settings and grow in their professions. Students also need to apply for licensure to practice. Courses include child development, child psychology, child psychopathology, child and adolescent counseling, psychotherapy for children, professional and ethical issues in clinical child psychology, among others.
Average salary per year: $48,022
Source: Glassdoor

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#13 Veteran Counselor

The increase in PTSD cases among veterans has necessitated the demand for veteran counseling. The main responsibilities of these counselors are to manage issues like trauma experiences, depression, and PTSD. They talk to and assess patients to determine the nature of the issues they are facing and then create the right counseling plan to improve their overall mental health. To be a veteran counselor, one needs to complete a master’s degree in counseling, with a focus on military or veteran counseling. Students will have to complete a supervised practicum that includes working with licensed veteran counselors and apply for state licensure.
Average salary per year: $47,508
Source: PayScale

#14 Rehabilitation Counselor

Rehabilitation counselors help people to become self-sufficient after suffering from various life-altering situations like a job loss, debilitating illness or injuries, or after experiencing substance abuse or traumatic life events. They offer treatment and work with clients to help them get back on their feet towards a happy and healthy future. To become a rehabilitation counselor, students need to complete an accredited master’s degree in counseling that focuses on rehabilitation. Students work under the supervision of licensed counselors as part of their practicum. In most states, students have to complete a minimum of one year of field training to be eligible for licensure and testing.
Average salary per year: $46,358
Source: Glassdoor

#15 Behavioral Counselor

Behavioral counselors work with individuals who exhibit serious behavioral issues in the social setting. They help people develop more socially acceptable habits with different techniques like reward and punishment, iteration and reinforcement and also teaching an alternative behavior. To become behavioral counselors, students need to complete a master’s level program that focuses on counseling, behavioral science, or behavior. They need to enroll in an accredited school and also apply for state licensure to practice.
Average salary per year: $40,851

Apart from the jobs listed above, there are many job options for students who study psychology, counseling, and related fields. Graduates with a counseling degree can work in various settings like government agencies, insurance companies, law offices, and the corporate sector.


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