Rehabilitation counselors salary & career outlook

Some people can't achieve independence on their own. That's where rehabilitation counselors come in.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), rehabilitation counselors "help people with emotional and physical disabilities live independently," working with clients to "overcome or manage the personal, social, and professional effects of disabilities on employment or independent living." A lot goes into the job, ranging from helping clients obtain services to providing individual and group counseling sessions.

Becoming a rehabilitation counselor, according to the BLS, typically requires a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling or a related field and the following qualities: communication skills, compassion, interpersonal skills, listening skills, and patience. Attending one of many rehabilitation schools may help equip you with qualifications and skills necessary to obtain a job in this fulfilling career field.

Rehabilitation counselor salary

You can, in fact, make a living by helping others live. According to the BLS, the mean annual wage for rehabilitation counselors as of May 2012 was $37,330, with the lowest-paid 10 percent earning an annual wage of $20,990 and the highest-paid 10 percent earning an annual wage of $59,330.

Industry could impact pay in this profession. According to the BLS, the top-paying industries for rehabilitation counselors in America, as of May 2012, were:

  • Insurance carriers ($56,970 annual mean wage)
  • Educational support services ($54,680 annual mean wage)
  • General medical and surgical hospitals ($52,060 annual mean wage)

Location, location, location -- as they say. Where you work geographically may factor into how much you earn in this profession. According to the BLS, the top-paying states in America for rehabilitation counselors, as of May 2012, were:

  • New Jersey ($55,840 annual mean wage)
  • Alaska ($52,680 annual mean wage)
  • Rhode Island ($51,590 annual mean wage)

The top-paying metropolitan areas in America, as of May 2012, for rehabilitation counselors were:

  • Trenton-Ewing, NJ ($65,720 annual mean wage)
  • Newark-Union, NJ-PA metropolitan division ($60,280 annual mean wage)
  • St. Cloud, MN ($58,290 annual mean wage)

Regardless where you work, you'll be helping people live better lives, which is hard to put a dollar amount on.

Job outlook for rehabilitation counselors

Things are looking up for rehabilitation counselors, which means people need them and you have an opportunity to deliver. According to the BLS, employment of rehabilitation counselors is expected to grow by 20 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is faster than the national average for occupations. That comes out to approximately 23,400 new jobs anticipated.

The BLS states that the demand for rehabilitation counselors can be explained by the growing elderly population (since they're more likely to become injured or disabled) and the rehabilitation needs of groups like veterans (due to injuries during military service) and others with disabilities.

While no one can predict the future and decipher where in America the most growth of rehabilitation counselor positions will arise, we can look at where the profession has thrived in the past and make some assumptions based on that. According to the BLS, the American states with the highest number of rehabilitation counselor jobs, as of May 2012, were:

  • California
  • New York
  • Washington

The metropolitan areas in America with the highest number of rehabilitation counselor jobs, as of May 2012, according to the BLS, were:

  • New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ metropolitan division
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA metropolitan division
  • Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA metropolitan division

There never seems to be a time when rehabilitation counselors aren't needed, but in the coming years the position could experience high growth. Why not be one of the people who helps provide that need? Research rehabilitation counselor schools online and get on the path to joining this fulfilling career field.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Rehabilitation Counselors, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211015.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Rehabilitation Counselors, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/rehabilitation-counselors.htm#tab-2