How to Become a Counselor?

Are you thinking of becoming a Counselor or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become a Counselor, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Counselor job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.

Steps to Become a Counselor

If you're considering starting your Counselor career path, it's important to note the skills, qualifications, and time it takes to become a professional Counselor and how to advance your career path. Below are the steps generally required to begin and advance your Counselor career.

Earn a Degree

To begin your Counselor career path, a Graduate Degree in counseling or a related field is usually necessary in order to remain a competitive option for employers. Focus on industry-specific skill development during your education in order to be properly equipped when applying for entry-level positions and entering the job force. A Counselor internship may be required to earn your Graduate Degree and acquire necessary on-the-job skills before entering the workforce.

What type of degree should you pursue to become a Counselor?

43% of people working as a Counselor earned a Graduate Degree

What skills do you need to be a Counselor?

  • CPR First Aid
  • English Language
  • Written Communication
  • Fluent English
  • IN Spanish
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Bilingual
  • WORKING Relationships
Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as a Counselor in the United States.

Choose a Specialty in Your Field

As an Counselor, you may be required to choose a specialty within your field. Determine which part of the Counselor field you feel strongest in, and continue taking active steps toward growing in your chosen Counselor specialty.

Get an Entry-Level Position as a Counselor

Once you've acquired a Graduate Degree in counseling or a related field, you'll typically begin your career as an entry-level Counselor. In general, you can become a Counselor after completing your 2 year Graduate Degree in a related discipline. Depending on the type of Counselor role you’re pursuing, you may want to explore certification in certified career counselor.

Advance in Your Counselor Career

Following entry-level, there are several Counselor career path levels to advance into. It can take 2 years as an entry-level Counselor to progress to the senior counselor position. Each advanced Counselor position requires approximately 2 years of experience at each level to advance in your Counselor career path. It may be necessary to receive additional education, an advanced degree such as a Master's Degree in a related field, or special certifications in order to advance your Counselor career path.

Continued Education for Your Counselor Career Path

Not all industries and companies require continued education to advance your Counselor career path. However, earning this degree may help you advance to higher-earning positions more quickly. Earning a Graduate Degree in counseling can take 4 years to complete. People that have earned their Graduate Degree typically make $67,305 compared to $28,954 for those without that type of degree.

Counselor Career Path


2 - 4Years of Experience
$39K - $68K /yrMost Likely Range
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9% advanced to

Senior Counselor

2 - 4Years of Experience
$38K - $66K /yrMost Likely Range
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Team Lead Counselor

5 - 7Years of Experience
$37K - $54K /yrMost Likely Range
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Total Pay Trajectory

Counselor Career Path

Counselor I
Senior Counselor
Counseling Manager
Team Lead Counselor
Director of Counseling
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Related Careers in the Healthcare Industry

Interested in other Healthcare careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Counselor skills. Discover some of the most common Counselor career transitions, along with skills overlap.

No skills overlap
22% transitioned to Intern