If you are a very social person and enjoy helping people with their problems, being a counselor may just be your calling. There’s much to learn about becoming a counselor and there are many specialties within this field. We’ll take a look at becoming a social worker, guidance counselor, drug counselor and a career counselor. All these specialties have different educational requirements as well as experience.
Types of Counselors
If you’re interested in becoming a social worker, there are two general types. A direct-service social worker helps people solve problems and cope with everyday issues. These social workers generally work for outreach programs. The second type is a clinical social worker. They diagnose and treat mental, behavioral and emotional issues. If you get a doctorates degree in this you become a mental health psychologists.
Perhaps being a guidance or school counselor interests you. They provide guidance in academic, career and personal advice to children and adolescents and they usually work in primary and secondary schools.
Vocational counselors help individuals prepare for careers. They help people realize their unique interests and help them find their perfect niche. These counselor often work in colleges, businesses or private practice.
If you have an interest in drug abuse, you might consider becoming a drug abuse counselor. They help patients learn about the underlying cause of their addiction. Drug addicts often have a number of other behavioral issues so this field can be quite challenging. These counselors are often found in homeless shelters, half-way houses, prisons and rehab centers.
If you’re not sure being a counselor is right for you, see if you can set up an interview with a counselor in your area and discuss the possibility. After all, isn’t that what they do. Their time is precious, so don’t waste it. Make sure you are prepared to discuss particular questions that will be enlightening. Make sure you have a pad and pen to take notes because that demonstrates your serious.
Once you decide you want to be a counselor and what kind, it’s time to find the appropriate program. You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree and some require a master’s. Generally, if you’re interested in social work, you should get an undergraduate degree in social work and it is best if the college has this program. You can also major in psychology or sociology but make sure you get the prerequisites you need to enter a master’s program if you decide to go that route. That way you’ll be prepared. A clinical social worker must have a master’s degree and that is usually in social work.
You’ll need to pull an internship with 2 years of supervised experience before you can become licensed. Then you’ll need to get certified. In the United States, all states require a state certificate. For more information on getting licensed or certified check with the Association of Social Works Boards at www.aswb.org.
A guidance counselor generally requires a master’s degree in education or related area. Check out www.cacrep.org for information on properly accredited counseling programs in guidance counseling. Once you find the school that is appropriate for you, make sure that you know what prerequisites are necessary for the master’s program. These students usually major in psychology. Once you finish your master’s program, you’ll need to do an internship. To be a guidance counselor, you need to take a 600 hour internship in K thru 12 school. Your master’s level school can help you with this. Next, you need to get certified as all states require certification. You can get a national certification through NBCC or NBPTS. To find out exactly what credentials you need for your state, check out your state education department. Go to http://www.schoolcounselor.org to get each state’s guidance/school counselor requirements.
If your interested in vocational or career counseling, you’ll need to acquire a master’s degree in education or related area. Get your bachelor’s degree in psychology. Some states require a master’s degree so you’ll need to check on your state’s rules. A vocational or career counselor will concentrate on vocational or adult counseling. Get your masters degree and get certified. Some jobs don’t require certification but many do. Check out the type of position you want and go from there. Go to http://www.allpsychologyschools.com/psychology-careers/counseling/counseling-states to determine your state’s requirements for licensing.
If your interested in becoming a drug abuse counselor, you’ll need a master’s degree in drug abuse counseling or related area. Get your undergraduate degree in psychology. Get your master’s degree. Then you’ll need to internship for one to two years in a mental health clinic or hospital. Your master’s program can help you with that. When you finish your internship, you can get certified. Not all jobs require certification so check on the type of job your interested in. You can get certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors, Inc., or the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselors.
Now your ready for employment. You can network by attending job fairs and establishing professional school and college counseling organization memberships. It is best if you join the Association of Social Work Boards (www.aswb.org) and the National Board for Certified Counselors (www.nbcc.org).
This file is a work of a sailor or employee of the U.S. Navy, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.
Susan has studied at the University of Texas Medical Branch Marine Biomedical Institute in Galveston, Texas and the University of South Florida in Tampa and received a Ph.D. in Biology with a major in Neuroscience and minors in physics and mathematics. Area of research is in brain transplantation and behavior testing with twenty years of teaching experience. Fields of interest include the physical basis of memory and learning, brain repair and regeneration as well as neuro-development. As an educator, has taught thousands of students at the college level in anatomy and physiology, biology, microbiology, marinebiology, nutrition, communications, radiography, ultrasound, mathematics and physics. She enjoys reading current scientific literature and simplifying the material making it readily available to the public.