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Educational, Vocational, and School Counselors Career Overview

Counsel individuals and provide group educational and vocational guidance services.

Salary for Educational, Vocational, and School Counselors

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 25th
Percentile
75th
Percentile
Mean
U.S. $38,740
($18.63)
$65,360
($31.42)
$53,540
($25.74)
Annual figures are on top. Hourly figures are below in parentheses.
N/A = Information not available


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Career Outlook for Educational, Vocational, and School Counselors

Employment is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations. Projected job growth varies by specialty, but job opportunities should be favorable because job openings are expected to exceed the number of graduates from counseling programs, especially in rural areas.

Employment change. Overall employment of counselors is expected to increase by 18 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is faster than the average for all occupations. However, growth is expected to vary by specialty.

Employment of substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors is expected to grow by 21 percent, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. As society becomes more knowledgeable about addiction, more people are seeking treatment. Furthermore, drug offenders are increasingly being sent to treatment programs rather than to jail.

Employment for educational, vocational, and school counselors is expected to grow by 14 percent, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for vocational or career counselors should grow as multiple job and career changes become common and as workers become increasingly aware of counseling services. States require elementary schools to employ counselors. Expansion of the responsibilities of school counselors also is likely to lead to increases in their employment. For example, counselors are becoming more involved in crisis and preventive counseling, helping students deal with issues ranging from drug and alcohol abuse to death and suicide. Although schools and governments realize the value of counselors in helping their students to achieve academic success, budget constraints at every school level will dampen the job growth of school counselors. Federal grants and subsidies may help to offset tight budgets and allow the reduction in student-to-counselor ratios to continue.

Employment of mental health counselors is expected to grow by 24 percent, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Under managed care systems, insurance companies increasingly are providing for reimbursement of counselors as a less costly alternative to psychiatrists and psychologists. In addition, there has been increased demand for mental health services as individuals become more willing to seek help.

Jobs for rehabilitation counselors are expected to grow by 19 percent, which is faster than the average for all occupations. The number of people who will need rehabilitation counseling will increase as the size of the elderly population, whose members become injured or disabled at a higher rate than other age groups, increases and as treatment for mental health related disabilities increases.

Marriage and family therapists will experience growth of 14 percent, which is faster than the average for all occupations, in part because of an increased recognition of the field. It is becoming more common for people to seek help for their marital and family problems than it was in the past.

Job prospects. Job opportunities should be favorable because job openings are expected to exceed the number of graduates from counseling programs, particularly in rural areas. Substance abuse counselors should enjoy particularly good job prospects.


Employment Overview

Counselors held about 665,500 jobs in 2008. Employment was distributed among the counseling specialties as follows:

Educational, vocational, and school counselors 275,800
Rehabilitation counselors 129,500
Mental health counselors 113,300
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors 86,100
Marriage and family therapists 27,300
Counselors, all other 33,400

A growing number of counselors are self-employed and work in group practices or private practice, due in part to laws allowing counselors to be paid for their services by insurance companies and to the growing recognition that counselors are well-trained, effective professionals.


Job Zone Description

Job Zone 5 - Extensive preparation

Overall Experience
Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of medical school and up to an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to do their job.

Education
At a minimum, a bachelor's degree is required for these occupations. However, many also require a graduate school degree such as a Master's, Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).

Job Training
Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations require that you already have the necessary skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Examples
Lawyers, instrumental musicians, physicists, counseling psychologists, and surgeons.

These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising or managing the activities of others. Very advanced communication and organization skills are required.

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Related Occupations

1.

Child, Family, and School Social Workers

2.

Health Educators

3.

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists


Additional Resources for Educational, Vocational, and School Counselors Job Seekers

For general information about counseling, as well as information on specialties such as school, college, mental health, rehabilitation, multicultural, career, marriage and family, and gerontological counseling, contact:

For information on school counselors, contact:

For information on mental health counselors, contact:

  • American Mental Health Counselors Association, 801 N. Fairfax St., Suite 304, Alexandria, VA 22314. Internet: http://www.amhca.org

For information on marriage and family therapists, contact:

  • American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, 112 South Alfred St., Alexandria, VA 22314. Internet: http://www.aamft.org

For information on accredited counseling and related training programs, contact:

  • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, American Counseling Association, 1001 N. Fairfax St., Suite 510, Alexandria, VA 22314. Internet: http://www.cacrep.org

For information on national certification requirements for counselors, contact:

  • National Board for Certified Counselors, Inc, 3 Terrace Way, Greensboro, NC 27403. Internet: http://www.nbcc.org

State departments of education can supply information on colleges and universities offering guidance and counseling training that meets State certification and licensure requirements.

State employment service offices have information about job opportunities and entrance requirements for counselors.

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