Some people are just easier to talk to than others; they listen and they give good advice. Are you one of those people? Perhaps you should consider a profession in therapy or counseling. Online counseling degrees, in particular, offer the most flexibility to pursue your education while you still work.
Counseling isn’t just listening to someone complain while they lay on a sofa. Counselors are found in many settings—schools, police departments, mental health clinics, and even large corporations. These professionals help people figure out what they want to do with their lives, get along with others, cope with mental health issues, and fight addiction.
THE CAREER PATH
You probably want to help people, right? That is one of the main things that those who pursue an online counseling degree have in common. But, depending on what your goals are you may want to narrow your counseling major to substance abuse counseling, family therapy, organizational psychology, etc. This allows you to specialize in an area that interests you and allow you to make the most difference in people’s lives. These are some of the most common counseling careers with statistics taken from the U.S. Department of Labor:
- Mental Health Counseling
These professionals sometimes work in clinical settings with psychiatrists, social workers, or other mental health professionals. Many help people who have been diagnosed with illnesses such as bipolar disorder or anxiety find ways to cope and find balance in their lives.
Salary: $41.880 annually
Career Outlook: 20% growth from 2014 -2024
- Substance Abuse Counseling
Often in a rehabilitation facility or as a community social worker, counselors who focus on substance abuse help people who struggle with addiction.
Salary: $42,030 annually
Career Outlook: 22% growth from 2014 – 2024
- Career Counseling
Many people – perhaps even like you – struggle with what career they want to pursue. There are so many to choose from! These counselors work with their clients to pin down their skill-set and goals, so they can find the profession that is right for them.
Salary: $42,030 annually
Career Outlook: 12% growth from 2014 – 2024
- School Counseling
Depending on where you work and what you specialize in, you may be helping older students figure out what college to go or talking with elementary students about topics like bullying.
Salary: $53,660 annually
Career Outlook: 8% growth from 2014 – 2024
- Marriage and Family Counseling
These professionals help families and couples communicate better with each other. Sometimes, they even save people’s marriages or improve parent’s relationships with their children.
Salary: $48,600 annually
Career Outlook: 19% growth from 2014 -2024
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
As a counselor you may come across situations that are emotionally challenging. Because of this, it is important that you consider how well you can function in that type of environment. Can you distance yourself? Other necessary attributes for this career include a desire to communicate with others and being concerned for other people’s welfare.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
If you do decide that an online counseling degree is the right for you, there are many different schools and programs you can choose from. Depending on what you would like to specialize in and whether you have another degree, you can either get an associate, bachelor’s, master’s or even doctorate degree in counseling or mental health. If you’re a career changer with a previous bachleor’s degree in a different subject area consider a master’s degree or a graduate certificate.
All counseling degree programs will include coursework on:
- Social and Cultural Diversity
- Professional Counseling and Ethical Practice
- Human Growth and Development
As you do your research to find the right school, keep in mind that some accreditations make it easier to pass national certification exams. For instance, some online counseling programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation for Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) which ensures that schools have the necessary courses needed to be prepared for the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential.
Another important thing to consider is the cost of online counseling degrees. While it is important to get the right education to pursue the career of your dreams, we all have to think of our pocketbooks. GetEducated’s 2017 rankings reveal the average cost of a bachelor's level online psychology degree to be around $51,500. An online master’s in counseling costs just under $31,500, on average. Keep these figures in mind as you look at the tuition at different colleges and remember to also consider the cost per credit hour and how many credit hours are required to graduate.