There are many different opportunities within the world of counseling. Different levels of education can determine which opportunities are available. Earning a bachelor’s degree, which is perhaps the most common degree for people furthering their education, can open doors if you’re looking to become a counselor.
There are certain types of counseling jobs that are available to people who only have a bachelor’s degree. Requirements vary from state to state and from job to job, but a person who has a degree in such areas as counseling, psychology, social work or criminal justice might be qualified for several different types of entry-level counseling jobs.
The Counseling Field
Counseling may involve working one-on-one with individuals or it might involve doing group counseling. Counselors may also work with couples or families. They may work in a number of different environments, including schools, prisons, juvenile detention facilities, hospitals and treatment facilities. Counselors need to be able to listen and communicate empathetically with their clients. They also need to be patient and compassionate. A master’s degree or higher may allow a counselor to work with less supervision, take on greater responsibility or even open their own practice. However, there are still a number of rewarding counseling jobs for people who have a bachelor’s degree.
Addiction counselors, or substance abuse counselors, work with people who are struggling with the abuse of drugs or alcohol. Clients may come to them voluntarily, or they may be required by a judge to participate in counseling. Substance abuse counselors may assist their clients in managing their addictions and finding other coping mechanisms, but they might work with them on other issues related to the addiction as well. This could include rebuilding personal and professional relationships.
Mental Health Counselors
Mental health counselors may specialize in a variety of areas, such as eating disorders, grief, depression or anxiety. They might also specialize in certain populations, such as teenagers or the elderly. While jobs for mental health counselors with a bachelor’s degree are unlikely to involve treating people who have more serious mental illnesses, these counselors can still play a critical role in the mental health of their clients. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for mental health counselors along with addiction counselors is expected to grow at a significantly higher rate compared to the average for other occupations.
Career and College Counselors
Not all counseling is aimed at people who are in crisis. A bachelor’s degree could lead to a counseling job working with people who are unsure about where they want to go with their careers. It could also lead to a job working with college students who are uncertain about what steps to take in their academic lives. A career counselor might administer tests, assess a client’s skills and help match the client with appealing job prospects. Career counselors might also assist in developing such skills as interviewing. College counselors might work with students on academic and career counseling. This type of position would usually be separate from on-campus mental health counselors who would also be available to a student population.
It’s true – having a master’s degree or higher will only increase the career opportunities for people in the counseling field. However, a bachelor’s degree still offers many opportunities to help others. Furthermore, some people might want to work a few years at a counseling job with a bachelor’s degree in order to decide whether to pursue further education in the field. What is your next step? Start studying!