When you’re a compassionate person looking for a rewarding career move, you’ve probably thought about those roles that allow you to support other people and your community. It follows that you may have considered counseling as one of your options. This career will see you helping individuals on a personal and professional level and can see you working within a variety of different environments, with a variety of different people. In addition, it can allow you to explore your own business options if you’d like to start your own counseling business or work on a consultancy basis. Or, you may want to specialize in one specific counseling area, such as gaining an online masters in school counseling specifically.
Here, this guide explores what counseling is and whether a career in counseling is right for you.
What is Counseling? An Overview
A career in counseling is all about professional advice and support. As a counselor, you will use your professional expertise and training to understand the best treatment and guidance needed for those people you deal with.
As a counselor, this could be a specific range of people, such as counseling young people in a school setting if you’re looking to gain an online masters in school counseling. Or, it could be providing couples counseling to married individuals. You may also want to focus on mental health counseling to provide support to a variety of patients in need.
Counseling means providing a professional service to those in need, whether that’s emotionally or psychologically — or both — and creating a safe space for them to discuss their needs with you and effectively communicate with them regarding any guidance or treatment programs.
Counseling is, therefore, a vital service that many vulnerable people need from many walks of life. In so being, counseling is also an extremely rewarding career consideration for many people.
The Pros and Cons of a Career in Counseling
As with any job role, there will always be pros and cons. However, the cons don’t necessarily mean that this is the wrong career move for you, either; it all depends on whether the pros outweigh the cons and whether you can comfortably deal with any cons on a professional level.
Here are some pros and cons you might wish to explore when it comes to a career in counseling.
- It’s a Highly Rewarding Career Path
There’s no doubt that counseling in any capacity, whether it’s private clients at your own clinic or an educational setting like with an online masters in school counseling, is extremely rewarding. You are responsible for helping people overcome their issues, heal themselves and receive the support they need. There can be nothing more fulfilling than knowing you have helped people in a substantial capacity and know that everyday you’re working to change lives for the better.
- There is Potential to Work for Yourself
If you’re thinking about possibly being your own boss in the future, then certain counseling roles can allow you to do that. Of course, the most obvious option would be to open your own clinic and be in control of the private clients you take on for counseling sessions. Therefore this can be a great option if your plans include wanting to be your own boss.
This all depends on what kind of counseling role you would like, as some roles, like qualifying with an online masters in school counseling, may see you being employed by a school or educational institution instead.
- Your Schedule Can Be Flexible
If you are working as your own boss and consulting with the clients you pick and choose, this means you have autonomy over your schedule. This can be great if you’re looking for a career option that gives you a lot of flexibility and ease with moving appointments around and the times of the day you’d like to work.
- You Have the Choice of Working with a Wide Variety of People
Counseling can allow you to mix with a wide range of people, from all walks of life. Especially if you are running your own clinic or appointments, this allows you to counsel many different people with no set demographic.
Of course, if you’d rather specialize, you still have the choice of working with a specific set of people, like young people, if you’d prefer educational counseling such as with an online masters in school counseling.
- There is the Potential for Long-Term Job Security
Most people would place job security at the top of their list, and if you become a qualified counselor and find the right employment, the chances are high that you can find long-term security in this line of work.
- There is the Potential to Earn Substantial Wage
Alongside job security, this also means that you have the potential to earn a high wage for a long period, especially if you take your expertise and qualifications to the next level, such as earning an online masters in school counseling to seek a higher wage bracket in line with your qualifications.
- It Can Be Emotionally Draining
If you’re looking to become a counselor, then it’s likely you’ll be a very caring and compassionate person. Unfortunately, this can also mean that dealing with vulnerable people and those who are struggling can be emotionally distressing for you, too. While it’s important to maintain a professional front, that doesn’t mean you won’t feel the emotional weight during the course of your work.
- It Can Be Stressful and Demanding
There’s always the potential to deal with demanding clients and be asked to support or counsel those who might not necessarily want your help, especially if you’ve been referred. You may also be working with younger people who are more demanding, such as working within an educational setting with an online masters in school counseling.
Therefore it can be very stressful if you’re dealing with a great number of difficult people to counsel and support.
- You May Face Pressures of Finding (and Keeping) New Clients
If you’re planning on opening your own counsel consultancy or business, then you will always face the pressure of keeping your business afloat and drumming up new business. This can be a side-job all in itself, on top of your normal counseling duties.
Of course, you can negate this con by seeking out employment instead of running your own business, like being employed by a school if you’re qualifying with an online masters in school counseling.
- Your Schedule Can Be Difficult
While counseling can offer a very flexible schedule, you still have to work around the availability of your clients. This means you may be forced to take appointment times which suit the client better than they suit you, and this could mean last-minute changes or very late appointment times. You may even be faced with emergencies with clients who need help unexpectedly.
6 Counseling Career Options You Can Explore
Here are just a few examples of the variety of roles you can expect with a counseling qualification.
- Career Counselor
Not all counseling has to be focused on emotions or behaviors. It may be that you want a counseling role focused on life advice and making better decisions. Becoming a career counselor can help you to support individuals in realizing their dreams, making their career goals happen, and providing tailored advice for working professionals.
- School Counselor
You might have a love for children or young people, and want a job which sees you working with them. As a school counselor, you can help young people every day in various ways. This could be in a classroom setting, helping students progress with their work and study aspirations and providing vital emotional and psychological support to vulnerable students. You also have the potential to progress with further learning, like with an online masters in school counseling.
- Grief Counselor
Some counseling roles will see you working with people at their most vulnerable, and grief counseling is a prime example of that. With this role, you will be providing a key support service for those struggling with grief. While this can be a demanding career choice in terms of the emotional strain, it can also be one of the most rewarding if you’re helping people overcome their grief and move to a more positive path.
- Behavioral Therapist
This role will see you focusing on a treatment plan for clients or patients who need to change certain behavioral patterns. This can depend on trying out different techniques tailored for each client. With this role, you will be supporting those people you work with in finding an improved daily routine and eliminating any problematic behavior.
- Substance Abuse Counselor
This role will see you focusing on the recovery of patients who have battled with substance abuse, such as alcohol or drugs. You will play a vital part in helping people get back on track with their life and eliminate any substance abuse problems. As a substance abuse counselor, you will also be working with a dedicated recovery plan and monitoring any client’s recovery and improvement.
- Mental Health Counselor
Counseling is an important tool for those struggling with mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. As a mental health counselor, you’re providing a necessary service for people struggling with these types of problems, and you’ll also be providing a safe and supportive space for vulnerable people to talk through their problems.
You can also expect to use a variety of techniques, such as mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), to help those patients in need.
Further Learning with Counseling
Another great feature of choosing a counseling career is the variety of further learning options for you. There is always potential to learn more when it comes to counseling and qualify with a higher degree. If you’re already qualified in a particular category of counseling, you may want to take the next step by earning a masters, like an online masters in school counseling.
This can be a substantial option for long-term career development and security if you want to rise to the top of your field and learn all there is to know.
What Working Environments Can You Expect with Counseling?
Just as there are many different job role options for counseling, there are also many different working environments you can expect, too. Some may be better suited to your personal working style, or maybe you’re open to many different environments as long as the job role itself is the right one.
These working environments could include:
- Working on a consultancy basis. This could see you being asked to confer with clients or patients in various settings if you have to travel to different homes, clinics, or locations.
- Working within an educational environment. For example, if you become a school counselor or gain an online masters in school counseling, you can expect to work in educational environments like schools or learning centers.
- Hospitals or clinics. You may be required to set up an office within a healthcare setting as a counselor, especially if you are specialized in mental health treatment or supporting people’s mental health going through life-changing injuries or illnesses.
- Rehab facilities. As a substance abuse counselor specifically, you may be required to work in rehab facilities or treatment centers to deal with patients who are recovering from substance abuse.
- An office environment. Whether you’re working in a public office building, working from home or have your own private standalone office, a counselor who runs their own business and manages client appointments daily can usually expect to work in an office environment on a one-to-one basis with clients.
Knowing whether a career in counseling is right for you is about understanding the many different roles and environment options and finding suitable ones. For example, if you want a rewarding career path as a compassionate person and are eager to work on the frontlines with vulnerable people, counseling might definitely be a good choice.