25 Best Things to Do With a Counseling Psychology Degree
Counseling psychologists are specially trained professionals who help others deal with things like behavioral disorders, addictions, trauma, family dysfunction and much more. A counseling psychology degree opens up psychology careers in fields as diverse as education and law enforcement.
Here’s a look at some of the ways you can put a counseling psychology degree to good use, though it’s important to remember that state laws vary when it comes to which professional counselors need licensure or certification, and it’s wise to consult the specific rules in your state before committing to any degree or career path.
Help People With Mental Health or Behavioral Disorders
When most people think of a counselor, they probably envision a compassionate person who helps an individual deal with a behavioral disorder, substance abuse or other mental health problems, and to be sure, those types of jobs are among the most plentiful in the field.
- Substance Abuse Counselor: Works with people dealing with substance abuse, addiction, alcoholism or other chemical dependence, sometimes within the context of a 12-step methodology, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Substance abuse counselors make a median annual wage of more than $44,000 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Stress and Anxiety Therapist: Especially helpful in our increasingly fast-paced culture, stress and anxiety therapists assist people with developing coping skills and tools so that their day-to-day stress and anxiety do not interfere with their success in life. They make about $45,000 per year.
- Applied Behavior Analyst: Analyzes behavioral issues in those experiencing a major behavior disorder, such as Asperger’s syndrome and other autism spectrum disorders and implements behavior-modifying therapies to eliminate problems and help individuals build crucial life skills. They make about $50,000 per year.
- Anger Management Counselor: Assists individuals with suspected or diagnosed anger management problems in addressing their rage and anger in a healthier way and helps their clients develop positive reactions to triggering incidents. They typically make about $45,000 per year.
- Mental Health Counselor: Works with people who may have specific diagnoses as well as counseling people who may not have a mental illness but need an outside perspective on their behavior. Mental health counselors make about $44,000 per year, according to the BLS.
Work in a School or Other Educational Setting
Another common landing site for counseling psychology graduates is within the educational space, where counselors and advisers help learners and educators to ensure students are able to reach their full potential.
- School Counselor: Helps young people develop the academic, emotional and social skills necessary for success in school as well as life, and provides guidance and advice on potential decisions students face. School counselors make about $56,000 per year, the BLS reports.
- Special Education Counselor: A subset of school counselors, special education counselors work exclusively with students who have a learning disability, behavioral disorder or other mental illness diagnoses, assisting them throughout their educational journey and working with other staff members to develop and implement Individualized Learning Plans. They make between $45,000 and $50,000 per year.
- Academic Adviser: Often working with students in the higher education setting, academic advisers ensure students are well-informed on school policies and practices, and they help learners make decisions about things like majors and courses to take. They earn between $35,000 and $55,000 per year.
- Social Worker: Helps students who may be experiencing issues related to abuse, neglect, family strife, hunger and other areas to ensure children are getting the help they need at home as well as thriving in school. In schools, social workers make $40,000-$60,000.
- Assessment Counselor: Interviews and collects information from students to identify and evaluate their academic, emotional, mental and social levels and makes recommendations with regard to grade level and advancement. They make about $45,000 per year on average.
Help People Achieve Their Career Goals
Once a person completes their education, that doesn’t mean they’re finishing learning, and counselors can be helpful for adults who are deep into their careers.
- Career Counselor: Work with clients to determine careers or jobs that they may be right for and assists them in building their resumes, networking and securing their ideal job. They make about $44,000 per year.
- Life Coach: Consults with adults who may lack a sense of purpose in life to help them set and achieve goals, modify problem behavior and make important personal growth. Life coaches are usually independent consultants, and they can make upwards of $75,000 or more.
- Sports Psychologist: Works with athletes to ensure ideal athletic performance, which includes recovering from injuries or overcoming issues of performance anxiety and competitive fatigue. They make about $75,000 per year.
- Staffing Specialist: Often working within or leading a staffing agency, staffing specialists assess job-seekers’ skill sets and experience and matches them with job openings in the area. They make about $50,000 on average.
- Personal Finance Coach: Works with individuals and families to develop healthy short- and long-term spending, saving, consumption and debt habits. They are most often independent consultants and can make upwards of $100,000 per year.
Work With Couples, Families and Other Groups
As the central personal unit for most people, families are commonly the source of conflict and strife for many people, even families where love is abundant. Counselors who specialize in family units will continue to be in high demand, with jobs for marriage and family therapists, for instance, growing by 22% over the next decade.
- Marriage and Family Therapist: Works with couples, families, and individuals to evaluate potential dysfunction within family units and help family members develop healthy ways of coping with stress to ensure better relationships within the family. According to the BLS, they make about $50,000 per year.
- Divorce Counselor: Works with individuals who have recently experienced a divorce to help the individual process the dissolution of their marriage and cope with anger, sadness, guilt and whatever other feelings the person is experiencing. They make between $45,000 and $60,000 on average.
- Group Therapist: Specializes in using the group dynamic to help many individuals cope with particular mental health or behavioral issue they have in common or who have all recently experienced a similar event, such as the death of a loved one. Group therapists earn between $40,000 and $55,000 per year.
- Couples Counselor: Works with couples to overcome problems within their relationship as well as addressing behavior or mental health disorders among individuals within the couple, such as issues of low self-esteem, anxiety or even addiction. They typically earn at least $50,000 per year.
- VA Counselor: Assists former service members who may be experiencing acute or chronic mental health disturbances related to their military service and may help connect veterans with services offered through the Veterans Administration or other public agencies. They generally make between $30,000 and $50,000 per year.
Assist People at Specific Ages
Many counselors specialize in helping individuals who are experiencing issues unique to their specific stages of life, such as adolescents or the elderly.
- Adolescent Therapist: Works with young people generally between the ages of 10 and 16 to identify and treat behavioral or emotional issues that are common in people who are close to or are in the midst of puberty. They usually make about $45,000 per year.
- Teenage Counselor: Assists older teens to help them develop mechanisms for coping with their changing minds and bodies as well as ensuring they are well-adjusted and ready for their next stage of life. Teen counselors make between $45,000 and $70,000.
- Geriatric Counselor: Works with elderly people to help them cope with the unique emotional challenges that come with achieving an advanced age as well as dealing with the chronic illnesses that often also develop in old age. These counselors earn an average of about $50,000 per year.
- Child Development Specialist: Works with young children and family members to ensure children understand issues within their family or have a grasp of emotional or behavioral problems they may be experiencing. These counselors typically earn about $45,000.
- Midlife Therapist: Specializing in people at or near the middle of their expected lifespan, midlife therapists are skilled in helping 40- and 50-somethings develop healthy methods for processing their emotions about growing older. They typically make at least $50,000 per year.
This list represents just a selection of some of the most in-demand and helpful jobs that a person can do after earning a counseling psychology degree, and as more everyday people acknowledge that they sometimes need outside help in coping with their emotional, behavioral and career problems, counseling psychologist jobs should grow even more in the future.
- Salary information was gathered from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale.com and Indeed.com.
- U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Marriage and Family Therapists. (2019.) Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/marriage-and-family-therapists.htm#tab-5
- Clinical vs Counseling Psychology Degree Differences. (2019). Retrieved from https://psydprograms.org/clinical-vs-counseling-psychology-degree-differences/