Counselors work in a variety of community settings, helping others with rehabilitation, support and counseling. They may serve all types of populations and ages, but most often help those who need extra support during times of difficulty. Counseling fields can include education. vocational, elementary and secondary schools, rehabilitation, mental health, substance abuse and marriage and family. People become counselors for several different reasons.
Counseling often attracts those who want to help others, especially in areas where they may have struggled themselves. For example, some substance abuse counselors are recovering addicts who go on to encourage others that they can also overcome their addiction issues. The counselor helps others with decisions that direct them to better their lives.
The person who receives counseling is not the only beneficiary of services. Immediate and extended family members benefit as well, along with employers and other community groups. In turn, the counselor makes an overall positive impact on society by helping one person at a time.
As of May 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, self-employed counselors who were in private practice earned the most money of any counselors. Median annual wages for rehabilitation counselors were $31,000; mental health counselors earned $37,000; substance abuse counselors earned just over $37,000; marriage and family therapists earned more than $44,000 and school counselors took in just above $51,000. Additional education, experience and training increase counselor salary and benefits.
According to the BLS, employment opportunities for counselors are expected to grow more quickly than the average. Although job growth varies depending on the specific counseling field, job openings should exceed the number of anticipated graduates from counseling programs, with an overall increase of about 18 percent from 2008 to 2018. The BLS projects the most growth for substance abuse and mental health counselors.
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