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31 Jul

5 Reasons to Earn Your Master’s in Professional Counseling

The decision to attend graduate school, whether for a master’s in professional counseling or any other advanced degree, can be both exhilarating and daunting. But if you have ambition, a financial plan, discipline and a passion for bettering the lives of others, a master’s in professional counseling can open the door to your dream career.

Here are the top five reasons to earn your master’s in professional counseling.

1. Demand for professional counselors is growing.

U.S. News & World Report ranked mental health counselor on its list of top 10 Best Social Services Jobs, citing a healthy job market.1 The Bureau of Labor Statistics reinforces this claim, reporting that employment of substance abuse counselors, behavioral disorder counselors and mental health counselors is projected to grow 23 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.2

The upward trajectory of the professional counseling profession in the U.S. may be linked to a generational shift in openness to receiving counseling. According to recent data from Barna, 42 percent of American adults have seen a counselor at some point in their lives, but Millennials and Gen Xers have greater interest in counseling than baby boomers and elders.

Twenty-one percent of Millennials and 16 percent of Gen Xers are currently engaged in therapy, but 8 percent of Boomers and 1 percent of Elders report presently working with a counselor or therapist. And while 15 percent of Millennials and 18 percent of Gen Xers claim they would never go to counseling, 30 percent of baby boomers and 34 percent of elders claim they would never go to counseling.3

As conversations around the importance of mental health continue to increase in the U.S., so will the demand for well-qualified professional counselors.

2. You need an accredited master’s degree to become a professional counselor.

One very important reason to earn your master’s in professional counseling? A master’s degree is widely considered the entry-level degree needed to work as a licensed professional counselor (LPC).4 In addition to imparting real-world skills, clinical training and theoretical knowledge, the curriculum for a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP), such as the Online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Counseling with a concentration in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from William & Mary, will prepare you for licensure and certification exams in your state.

To learn more about why CACREP accreditation is so important to consider when choosing a master’s program, check out our blog post on the subject.

3. Professional counseling is incredibly rewarding.

Why do you want to become a professional counselor? Maybe you have always been a keen listener with a compassionate heart. Perhaps counseling transformed your life for the better and you want to pay it forward. Or maybe you have worked for years in a less-than-satisfying job and you want to shift careers.

The American Counseling Association (ACA) defines counseling as “a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.”5 Whatever your motivation for becoming a counselor, you probably have a passion for empowering others to work through life’s struggles. While counseling can be an emotionally and mentally challenging profession, there are few others that allow you to have such a positive, lasting effect on clients.

If you are compelled to serve others, you will most likely find working as an LPC to be personally and professionally fulfilling. For a firsthand account of why one William & Mary faculty member chose professional counseling as a career, read Professor Charles “Rip” McAdams’ blog post, Why I Became a Counselor.

4. It will expand your network.

Never underestimate the power of a strong network. When you enroll in a well-respected master’s in professional counseling program, such as the Online M.Ed. in Counseling at William & Mary, you gain access to faculty members, fellow students and alumni who share your passion for serving and empowering others.

Enrolling in a master’s program gives you the opportunity not only to tap into the diverse knowledge and experiences of faculty members and peers, but also to nurture relationships that have the potential to serve you well at various points throughout your career.

5. A master’s in professional counseling opens the door to a Ph.D. and additional career paths.

In addition to preparing you for work as a professional counselor, a master’s in professional counseling is generally a prerequisite for admission to counseling Ph.D. programs. CACREP accredits doctoral degrees in counselor education and supervision, which prepares students for work in academia, administration and/or supervisory roles within their organizations.1

Discover William & Mary’s Transformative Online M.Ed. in Counseling

William & Mary is proud to offer an Online M.Ed. in Counseling that boasts the same quality as our on-ground program while giving you the flexibility you need to complete classes on your own time, from any location. Learn more about our curriculum and the innovative Social Justice dashboard that helps you master multicultural counseling competencies.


1 Retrieved on July 17, 2019, from money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/mental-health-counselor
2 Retrieved on July 17, 2019, from bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-behavioral-disorder-and-mental-health-counselors.htm
3 Retrieved on July 17, 2019, from barna.com/research/americans-feel-good-counseling/
4 Retrieved on July 17, 2019, from cacrep.org/for-students/student-faqs-2/#FAQ2
5 Retrieved on July 17, 2019, from https://www.counseling.org/about-us/about-aca/20-20-a-vision-for-the-future-of-counseling/consensus-definition-of-counseling