Department of Human Services

Career Options and Facts

Professional Counseling is the application of talk therapy with instructional, guidance, counseling, psychotherapy, and evaluation procedures to positively impact the cognitive, affective, behavioral functional of an individual. Counselors aspire to improve client’s psychological well-being, wellness, personal growth, career development, mental health, and interpersonal and intrapersonal functioning. Counselors employ systemic interventions and strategies that address skill deficiency remediation and amelioration of psychopathology.

Earnings and Employment Facts

  • Median annual earnings of substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors in 2012 were $38,520. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,140, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $60,000.
  • Median annual earnings of mental health counselors in 2012 were $40,080. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,430, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $66,630.
  • Median annual earnings of rehabilitation counselors in 2012 were $33,880. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,990, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $59,330.
    • For substance abuse, mental health, and rehabilitation counselors, government employers generally pay the highest wages, followed by hospitals and social service agencies. Residential care facilities often pay the lowest wages.
  • Median annual earnings of educational, vocational, and school counselors in 2012 were $53,610. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,920, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $86,680. School counselors can earn additional income working summers in the school system or in other jobs.
  • Median annual earnings of marriage and family therapists in 2012 were $46,670. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,540, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $75,120.

More Facts About Counseling

  • More than 526,000 professional licensed counselors are in practice in the United States (Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • 48 states license or certify professional counselors for independent private practice.
  • The majority of national behavioral health managed care companies reimburse professional counselor for services they provide

Counseling Ethics

Professional counselors adhere to rigorous professional codes of ethics and standards of practice. You can review these sites to see them in detail.

Practice Locations

Professional counselors and rehabilitation specialists serve people from the very young to senior adults (children and adolescents, young adults, individuals in unique groups, couples, families, adults and senior citizens) in schools, independent practice, community agencies, businesses, management, behavioral health care organizations, integrated delivery systems, employee assistance programs, substance abuse treatment centers, and hospital settings, always with the goal of improving the lives of their clients and consumers.