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Counselor Salary, Career Forecast, Trends, and Training

Counselors assist people in making life decisions in a wide range of specialties. As a counselor, you may work with people with mental or physical disabilities, substance addictions, school and job issues, and trauma disorders. Therefore, counselors need to be patient, stable, and motivated to face these challenges on a daily basis.

Counselor Salary Data

Counselors can work in a wide range of settings, from private practice to public institutions, and may specialize in any number of areas of counseling. Consequently, the average counselor salary in 2015 varies from place to place and employer to employer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for counselors in 2015 was $48,790. Broken down by specialty, counselors earned the following salaries:

  • Education, vocational, and school counselors earned a median annual salary of $56,490 with the top 10th percentile earning $87,640.
  • Marriage and family therapists earned a median annual salary of $53,520, with the top 10th percentile earning $81,960.
  • Mental health counselors earned a median annual salary of $45,080, with the top 10th percentile earning $68,790.
  • Rehabilitation counselors earned a median annual salary of $38,040, with the top 10th percentile earning $60,750.
  • Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors earned a median annual salary of $42,920, with the top 10th percentile earning $63,030.

    Wages for counselors also vary by location. Here's what the BLS reports as the top-paying states for these five counseling specialties:

    Type of counselor The 3 top-paying states

    Education, vocational, and school counselors

    New Jersey ($72,140), Alaska ($71,170), New York ($64,750)

    Marriage and family therapists

    New Jersey ($74,420), Alaska ($61,610), Hawaii ($60,490)

    Mental health counselors

    Alaska ($60,190), Utah ($56,500), Idaho ($54,700)

    Rehabilitation counselors

    Alaska ($54,880), Connecticut ($48,550), New Jersey ($48,350)

    Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors

    New Hampshire ($56,070), New Mexico ($52,540), North Dakota ($51,490)

    Pursuing a career as a counselor can be a realistic option, as the BLS reports that employment of counselors is expected to grow 18 percent from 2008 to 2018, with employment of substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors expected to grow the fastest. Employment may be the most plentiful in the states with the highest levels of employment for this specialization, Vermont, South Dakota and New Jersey.

    Benefits of Counselor Training Online

    The BLS reports that most counselors hold national or state certifications and these certifications require you to have a bachelor's and master's degree. If you are interested in becoming a counselor, counselor training online can help you earn your degrees from your home and on your schedule. The flexibility of online classes allows you to keep your full-time job while preparing yourself for the best jobs and highest salaries in this growing field.

    Sources:

    1. Education, Guidance, Schools, and Vocational Counselors, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211012.htm
    2. Marriage and Family Therapists, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistic, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211013.htm
    3. Mental Health Counselors, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistic, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211014.htm
    4. Rehabilitation Counselors, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211015.htm
    5. Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211011.htm