How to Be a Counselor: Educational Requirements and Counseling Career

how to be a counselor

how to be a counselor

Do you want to know how to be a counselor?

A career as a counselor is a rewarding job. Your career focuses on helping people handle the many challenges in life. Challenges like difficulty in dealing with other people, promoting self development and looking for effective problem solving approaches are just some of the many things you can do as a counselor. It is not surprising that many young people today wants to know how to be a counselor.

Gather Information

Before embarking on a career in counseling, you must take the time to gather and learn everything about the educational requirements and skills needed for you to be an effective counselor. What are the different counseling careers today that you want to specialize in? Most importantly, evaluate if you have what it takes to be an effective counselor.

Education Requirements

Start with an Associate’s Degree

An associate’s degree prepares you for a career in life coaching, addiction counseling and career counseling. From here, you can decide if you want to take your education further and pursue a Bachelor and eventually a Master’s degree.

Bachelor, Master’s or Doctorate Degree

Another way on how to be a counselor is to take up a Bachelor degree in counseling, psychology or social work. You can choose your own specialization which will be the focus of your entire practice. Most graduates of a Bachelor’s degree move on to take up their master’s or doctorate degree. A master’s degree is the minimum requirement for one to become a counselor.


There are many counseling specializations to choose from. Your choices include school guidance, addiction counseling, community health counseling, mental health, marriage and family counseling, career counseling, crisis counseling and many more.

License and Practice

Before you can start your practice, you have to pass a licensure exam. However, it all depends on your work settings and the state you live in. For example, counselors working in a college career setting does not require to be licensed. In some states however, it is a requirement that counselors in private practice should pass a licensure examination. Opting to be certified by a national certification board can boost your credentials as a counselor.

Qualities of a Counselor

Here are some of the most important qualities a counselor must have:

  • Empathy – is the ability to feel and understand what your client is going through
  • Warmth – is maintaining a friendly and safe environment where the client feels your care and support
  • Consistency – is a regular way of responding and presenting solutions to the client
  • Respect – is taking in consideration the rights, wants and needs of a client
  • Positive approach – is choosing your responses and keeping the tone of speech at a positive level
  • Personal Knowledge – is the application of proper knowledge, values and skills needed for the practice

Skills of a Counselor

An effective counselor should possess the following skills:

  • Interpersonal skills –This skill allows you to handle all types of people from all walks of life.
  • Good listening skills – A good counselor has the ability to listen in between the lines. Once a client talks about his problems, the counselor listens intently and observes a client’s body language to find the information needed to deal with his problems.
  • Analyzation skills and the ability to ask the right questions. To become a good counselor, you must possess the ability to question and analyze each situation. Getting the right answers depends on asking all the right questions.

Future of a Counseling Career

Just like all other professions, the amount a counselor makes yearly depends on his education, areas of specialty, experience, years of employment and his geographical location. A counselor’s salary ranges from $24,100 up to $63,630 depending on the counselor’s specialization. According to the Department of Labor and Statistics, there is a great demand for counselors in all government and private businesses. However, counselors who are self-employed or part of a group practice tend to earn more than counselors working for the government or schools. This is according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Learning how to be a counselor depends greatly on pursuing the right education and training. It is also important that you possess the different qualities and skills that will make you an effective and successful counselor.



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