If you want to become a counselor, it is important to know the qualifications for this position. In general, counselors work with people who are experiencing problems in their lives and help them find solutions or ways of coping. The job may be associated with mental health but many counselors also work on addiction treatment, family conflicts, etc. If you would like to learn about what qualifications you need in order to become a qualified counselor read on!

What Kind Of Degree Do I Need?

To begin your career as a counselor, you must complete a four-year undergraduate degree and, in most cases, a master’s degree. A master’s degree can often help you focus on a certain aspect of counseling or provide you with specialized knowledge for a specific type of counseling. There are different types of master’s degrees you can complete. For instance, a Master of Arts (MA) in counseling will train you to work with people from different age groups and backgrounds, but it has liberal arts as its foundation. A Master of Education (MEd) will allow you to focus on specific problems within a certain population, such as children or the elderly. If you want to hone in on your counseling skills for a specific type of issue, such as addictions, you can complete a Master of Science (MS) with an emphasis on addictions. Many people associate a master’s degree with long school hours, but you can also find an online master of counselling program. Online programs can help you focus on your counseling skills while working or taking care of family.

Decide On Specialty

There are a few common types of counseling specialists. This includes the following

  • General Counselors:  These counselors are trained to help people with a variety of issues within the general population.  Counseling can be done face-to-face or online through video conferencing.
  • Addiction Counselors: This specialty will allow you to gain knowledge in substance abuse and psychological dependency. This type of counselor is often found working in drug rehab centers or mental health facilities.  
  • Family Counselors: People choose this specialty because they want to work with families and their problems.  Marital and premarital counselors are also included under this specialization.
  • School Counselors: If you would like to help children with academic problems or guide them through their educational development, then this is the specialty for you.
  • Mental Health Counselors: Counselors can also specialize in working with people who are experiencing emotional disorders such as depression, stress, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Sometimes, these counselors work with both the patient and people close to him/her.
  • Rehabilitation Counselors:  This is the specialty for those who want to help people with physical or mental disabilities gain independence and acquire skills that will help them function effectively in society.  

What Is The Main Difference Between Counselors And Psychologists?

There is a lot of overlap in what these two specialists do, who they work with, and how they treat patients. The most significant distinction is the level of education gained. To practice, most psychologists will need a doctoral degree, whereas most counselors will need a master’s degree. Also, psychologists focus more on testing, experimental research, and treatment. Counselors do not generally conduct psychological tests or treatments.

A psychiatrist, on the other hand, is a medical doctor who has completed medical school and is qualified to prescribe drugs and shouldn’t be confused with these two professions.

What Skills And Traits Should Counselors Have?

To be a good counselor, you must first and foremost like working with people. Although there is training to make sure you know the right therapeutic methods to use and how to handle your clients, it really boils down to whether or not you enjoy listening and talking with people. It doesn’t matter what type of counseling specialty you decide on; all counselors must have excellent listening skills, solid communication abilities, and patience.

Here are more traits and skills that signal success as a counselor:

  • interpersonal skills
  • self-reflection
  • curiosity
  • accessibility
  • flexibility
  • problem-solving skills
  • observational skills

You’ll Need A Licence

Besides your educational background, you will also need a license that proves your training and qualification as a counselor. A few states do not have a licensure requirement for counselors, but if they offer licensing exams, it must be taken to become licensed. If you can work in the state without having licensing requirements, most employers will still want proof of qualifications, which means you will need to get a license.

How To Find A Job?

In order to find a good job in this field, having a representative resume can be helpful. A resume that is tailored to the position you desire can go a long way toward ensuring that you receive the job you’re applying for. You should have some volunteering experience, a few solid internships on your resume, and some relevant experience in a professional setting. Many people struggle to create a CV that accurately reflects their professional experience, personality, and abilities to contribute to the firm or organization to which they are applying.

Also, make sure you know the requirements and set yourself apart from your peers by gaining more education and certifications in your area of specialization (if allowed). Lastly, networking is key: look for job openings and talk to people working in the field to find out where they work and how they got there.

The qualifications to become a counselor are not very difficult. In order for someone to get into the field, they need an educational background and licensing from their state. Counselors usually have a master’s degree and work in a specific field such as general counseling, school counseling, addiction counseling, etc. Although each specialization requires a different educational background and license; the overall qualifications are usually the same. The most important thing that one needs in order to be successful is being able to work well with others and have patience while listening to what other people say. Becoming a good counselor does take some effort but it can also be rewarding when you see how much progress your client has made because of your help!


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