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Is a Master’s in Counseling Worth It?

Key Takeaways:

  • Career Opportunities: A Master’s in Counseling opens doors to diverse fields like mental health clinics, schools, and private practice.
  • Personal Fulfillment: Helping others navigate life challenges can be deeply rewarding.
  • Earning Potential: While salaries vary, counselors can earn competitive wages with experience and specialization.

After investing so much money and time in a bachelor’s degree, you naturally want to know if master’s in counseling careers are worth it. You need to find out if a master’s in counseling degree salary will be enough to justify the additional cost of going to school. While there are a range of different pay rates in the industry, the highest-paying counseling jobs will allow you to recuperate the time and energy you put into getting your degree. 

Once you get master’s in counseling degree jobs, you can expect to earn a median wage of $49,170 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The best counseling jobs can pay even more. While a mental health technician earns $84,044 annually, a therapist makes $70,399 per year. 


What Fields Do Counselors Work in? 

Once you complete an affordable counseling program, you can use your degree to get one of the best counseling jobs available. Often, people assume that you can only work as a mental health counselor if you have a master’s degree in counseling. In reality, your online counseling degree can be used for a variety of different jobs. 

  • Social worker
  • School counselor 
  • Family therapist
  • Rehabilitation counselor
  • Health educator
  • Career counselor 
  • Therapist
  • Residential counselor 
  • Chemical dependency counselor 
  • Academic counselor 

Decide If Master’s in Counseling Degree Jobs Are Right for You 

Before you search for the best master’s in counseling careers, you should determine if these affordable online counseling programs are the right choice for you or not. Getting a master’s in counseling can be an exciting decision. Each person is different, so only certain people have the personality and abilities that are ideal for counseling work. 

1. You Care About Helping People 

Even if you work as something other than a mental health counselor, every job you find that requires a master’s in counseling will involve working with people. Whether you are employed as a social worker or an academic counselor, a great deal of your time will be spent asking questions and listening to what your client has to say. If you don’t love helping people, this isn’t the career field for you. 

2. You Love Psychology 

Once you find the best counseling jobs, you can use your knowledge of psychology to help other people. Psychology studies the way the human mind works. In your coursework, you will learn about human motivations, behavioral analysis, and research-backed techniques for helping people. As a part of your learning process, you will learn about different talk therapy techniques you can use to assist your clients.  

3. You Are a Natural Listener 

Once you find the right master’s in counseling careers, you will end up spending a significant portion of your time listening to your clients. If you don’t love listening to people share their feelings and stories, this isn’t the career field for you. The best counselors know how to be objective and provide their clients with support.

How Much Does an Online Counseling Degree Increase Your Average Salary? 

An affordable counseling degree can potentially increase your salary by $10,000 to $50,000 a year. It depends on what you currently make and which master’s in counseling careers you want to do. Right after graduation, the typical clinical mental health counselor will earn about $45,000 per year. 

Over time, the master’s in counseling degree salary will increase. At the high end of the salary scale, clinical mental health counselors can earn as much as $84,173 per year. You may also be able to gain more control over your earnings by starting a private practice. 

In the United States, the average entry-level worker makes $16.02. This works out to $33,321.60. That means that the typical person can make about $12,000 more a year by switching from a standard, entry-level job to an entry-level position as a clinical mental health counselor. 

What Is the Average Master’s in Counseling Degree Salary? 

The average annual pay for someone who is pursuing master’s in counseling careers is $72,203 per year. Because this is based on the entire country, the average master’s in counseling degree salary can vary significantly in your area. Typically, the highest-paying counseling jobs are found in the cities and near the coasts. If you live in a rural area, the jobs in your area will most likely pay significantly less. 

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How Long Does It Take to Complete a Master’s in Counseling? 

Normally, a master’s degree takes between one and three years to complete. If you are pursuing a master’s degree in counseling, it may take you longer to finish this degree if you are taking your classes on a part-time basis. In accelerated online programs, you may be able to complete your degree in less time. 

Choosing to study at an accelerated pace has its risks and benefits. When you take a larger course load, you generally have less time to work at your job. If you are unable to earn money at work, this increases the opportunity cost of getting your education. To figure out if your degree program is financially worth the investment, you will have to consider the opportunity cost as well as the explicit tuition cost of getting your degree. 

With a part-time program, it will take longer to complete your college degree. However, you will most likely be able to stay at your current job, so you may be able to maintain your current earnings for your entire degree. Ultimately, the length of time you spend on your education depends on how much time and money you can invest in your education upfront. 

Is Getting a Master’s in Counseling a Good Decision? 

After you find the most affordable online counseling degree, you should take some time to figure out if master’s in counseling careers are right for you. First, you should determine what type of career you want to do. Many careers do not require a degree, so you may not need to invest any money in your education. 

Financial Considerations 

If you are passionate about becoming a counselor, then you will likely need to find affordable online counseling programs to complete your degree. In particular, you should look for colleges that are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The CACREP accreditation shows that a program meets the minimum requirements for licensure, so it is a good indication of the school’s quality. 

You may also be able to improve your cost-benefit analysis through grants and loan repayment programs. Because there is a shortage of mental health counselors, many states offer loan repayment assistance if you are willing to work in rural or disadvantaged areas. Normally, you only have to work in these areas for a couple of years before you are able to get your loans covered and move on.

Career Goals 

Another aspect to consider is your career goals. When most people think about whether a master’s in counseling is worth it or not, they primarily focus on the financial cost. In reality, you also need to look at what you want out of life. If your only dream in life is to become a counselor, then the cost of school is likely worth it to you. You can only become a counselor if you meet your state’s requirements for a counselor endorsement.

If you want to become a counselor, you will typically be required to get a graduate degree. The majority of state programs require individuals to get a master’s degree before they apply for a counseling license. Because of this, schools don’t offer bachelor’s degrees in counseling. Instead, most students major in psychology or a similar program before they get a master’s degree in counseling.   

Personal Aptitude 

Finally, you also have to consider your personal aptitude. For instance, some people hate going to school. If you are one of these individuals, getting an additional degree might not be worth your time or energy. 

In comparison, someone who loves studying psychology may not have an issue attending school for a few more years. If you dream about listening to people talk about their problems and learning how to help people recover from trauma, a counseling degree is an excellent choice. Committing to additional schooling is a big decision, but the commitment is likely worth it if you are trying to get hired in a career field you are passionate about. 

Learn More About Master’s in Counseling Degree Jobs 

By pursuing an online counseling degree, you open up a world of potential master’s in counseling careers. Through the highest-paying counseling jobs, you can quickly increase the amount of money you bring home each month. While the master’s in counseling degree salary is important to consider, you should also think about whether this career field is something you would enjoy doing. 

The best counseling jobs will allow you to assist people in your community with grief, trauma, and relationship problems. Through talk therapy, you can help others overcome obstacles in their lives. If you are excited about working in this kind of environment, then you will likely excel as a mental health counselor.