Types of Counselors


Counselors and therapists work with patients across a variety of settings to help people live more rewarding, healthy, and fulfilling lives. Many types of counseling certifications and specializations equip these professionals with the skills to work with specific populations, such as patients dealing with trauma, substance dependence, or developmental issues affecting children. Pursuing a career in counseling offers many opportunities to combine your professional skill set with a commitment to helping others and making a positive impact in their lives.

Most counseling professions require a master's degree, post-degree supervised clinical experience, and a passing score on the National Counselor Examination or an equivalent exam recognized by the state in which you plan to practice. All states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, require licensure for licensed professional counselors.

Generally speaking, counselors work with people living with mental health, behavioral, and emotional issues. Counselors also guide clients on spiritual, vocational, career, and educational matters.

Types of Counselors

Guidance Counselor

These counselors administer interviews and use assessment instruments to help students identify and develop the skills they need to achieve educational and career goals. Master's degree-holders earn an annual mean salary of $60,160.

Rehabilitation Counselor

Rehabilitation counselors work with patients to manage the physical and emotional effects of disabilities and illnesses. Counselors with a master's degree and state licensing may earn significantly more than the median yearly salary of $39,950.

Marriage and Family Therapist

These professionals use their counseling training to help individuals, couples, and families cope with relationship issues, such as separation, divorce, and abuse. Licensed therapists earn a mean annual salary of $54,590.

Mental Health Counselor

hese counselors provide treatment to diverse patient populations experiencing mental and emotional conditions, anxiety, addiction, and other disorders. The annual salary for these providers varies from $29,000 to over $79,000 depending on the degree level and type of employer.

Substance Abuse Counselor

These professionals help clients recover from addictions, drug dependencies, and other destructive behaviors. While licensed substance abuse counselors may enter the field with an undergraduate degree, graduate-trained counselors typically earn more than the $57,040 median annual salary.

Spiritual Counselor

These counselors, who typically hold a master's degree, base their practice on spiritual or religious beliefs and principles integrated into secular clinical approaches. Spiritual counselors often work for religious organizations, earning an annual median salary of $39,305.

Domestic Violence Counselor

This specialization provides the training needed to work with victims of domestic violence and abusive relationships. These counselors, who earn a median annual salary of $47,500, may enter the field with a bachelor's degree.

Child Pediatric Counselor

Working in clinics, schools, and social services organizations, these counselors diagnose and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders and traumas in children. These specialized child and family therapists earn a median yearly salary of $44,817.

Grief Counselor

Often referred to as bereavement counselors, these specialists help people move through stages of grief after losing a close family member or friend. Graduate degree-holders can expect somewhat higher compensation than the $42,500 median yearly wage for this career.

Behavior Analyst

Behavior analysts earn relatively higher salaries than other counselors, reporting median annual salaries of $60,104. These highly-trained therapists treat children and adults on the autism spectrum and those with ADHD, brain injuries, and other behavioral or developmental challenges.

Suicide Counselor

Suicide counselors identify at-risk individuals, assess how much danger they pose to themselves and others, diffuse crisis situations, and develop appropriate treatment. Counselors in the field of suicide prevention services can earn an average median annual salary of $50,000.

School Counselor

School counselors provide career guidance, help students navigate academic challenges, and assist with college applications. Some school districts require a master's degree and teaching license, and counselors with these credentials earn a higher median annual salary of $57,040.

Alternative Careers for Counselors

Related Pages: Types of Counseling Degrees

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