Counseling Home Blog 10 Alternative Careers for Counselors Beyond Traditional Roles

10 Alternative Careers for Counselors Beyond Traditional Roles

26 Oct
Young male student at meeting with college counselor in office.

Students who pursue a master’s degree in counseling develop many valuable interpersonal and technical skills. For instance, strong soft skills help them communicate effectively with clients during individual and group sessions. They also learn to create personalized treatment plans for clients with mental health challenges.1 As a new graduate, you can use these abilities in traditional settings, securing employment in mental health services or school counseling. The job description that motivates you may involve finding treatment options for patient care, or it could be that of a marriage and family therapist, a mental health technician, a case manager or a case worker.

If you have other career goals, however, an Online M.Ed. in Counseling with a concentration in School Counseling can unlock many alternatives in related disciplines. Exploring non-traditional career options can help you find the right fit for your skill set and discover new passions. This guide examines 10 fulfilling career paths in publishing, human resources and other fields.

Understanding Alternative Careers for Counselors

Alternative careers refer to jobs outside of traditional counseling roles that leverage related knowledge and skills. For example, counseling professionals can use transferable ‘people skills,’ such as conflict mediation and active listening, to become human resources specialists. Similarly, counseling training enables student affairs professionals to help college students cope with mental and emotional challenges.2

While non-traditional career paths can be personally and professionally satisfying, alternative careers may pose challenges, such as learning new skills and juggling previously unfamiliar responsibilities.2

Counseling in Higher Education

Many people use their counseling skills to secure jobs in higher education. For instance, some school counselors make a career change to work in student affairs departments, increasing campus engagement and helping students navigate educational challenges. Other professionals work as coaches in career development centers, placement offices and athletic departments.2

Additionally, many colleges and universities have on-site counseling centers. In that sort of therapeutic environment, graduates of counseling master's programs may provide one-on-one and group sessions for student clients. They may also qualify for administrative roles, such as the directorship of a counseling center.2

Training and Development in Corporate Settings

Counseling expertise can translate to corporate training and development careers. Mental health professionals often work as consultants or full-time employees for businesses. For example, some consultants use their communication skills, listening skills and knowledge of human psychology to provide leadership and team-building training sessions. Others organize workshops on conflict resolution and mediation skills.2

You may have worked for a company that offered a workplace wellness and/or an employee assistance program. These initiatives need skilled counseling professionals who can help people cope with burnout, grief, stress and other challenges.3

Nonprofit and Community Organizations

A counseling degree can open the door to a rewarding career path in community and nonprofit organizations. Many counselors work for community mental health centers and government-funded social service agencies. These jobs allow credentialed counselors to help historically underserved populations, such as youth or people with severe mental illnesses.2

Additionally, people with counseling training can assist people in need by working for crisis hotlines and 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline help centers. Experienced in crisis intervention, they provide guidance and resources for people in severe distress.4

Human Resources and Employee Relations

Counseling students can apply their knowledge of human psychology and mediation skills in human resources and employee relations. Specialists in this field use human behavior principles to motivate and train employees. For example, they can use the reward system to create incentives for increased productivity. They also use communication skills in the processes of interviewing and hiring new employees and terminating employment when necessary.5

Life Coaching and Personal Development

Some counseling professionals pursue alternative careers as life and wellness coaches. These professionals provide individual and group coaching sessions, during which they help clients set realistic goals, find their passions, practice mindfulness and achieve personal growth.6

Like counselors, life coaches need empathy, communication skills and the ability to help clients improve themselves. Many life coaches earn additional certifications from professional organizations before opening their practices.6

Educational Consulting

Educational consultants use their counseling skills and knowledge of child development to provide academic guidance to students and parents. Each one can function as a career counselor, helping high school students clarify professional goals, make educational choices based on those goals and create effective college applications. These professionals also help families find academic programs tailored for students with neurodiversity and learning disabilities.7

Additionally, educational consultants help schools develop educational programs and school counseling initiatives. They analyze the school’s current activities and work with school leadership to develop new programs that promote access and equity.8

Healthcare Writing and Publishing

Counseling professionals can use their knowledge of counseling practices and mental well-being to become healthcare writers. Their work communicates clinical and scientific information about mental health to broad audiences, such as healthcare professionals, social workers and parents.

Medical writing takes many forms, including blogging, freelance writing for companies and creating books. Additionally, some trained counselors fact-check and edit articles written by other subject matter experts. Medical writers may also use their counseling expertise to develop resources such as articles and videos about mental health disorders.9

Training and Education

Counseling professionals can provide education and training for other specialists. Some become professors in higher education counseling programs, drawing on their training and personal experience to teach students about counseling approaches and theories.2

Additionally, counseling specialists can offer professional development training for their colleagues. For instance, a counselor could organize continuing education workshops and seminars on launching a practice.2 They can also develop online courses for colleges or nonprofit organizations.

Private Practice and Entrepreneurship

Many counselors looking for a career change open their own practices.2 Running a private business allows them to choose their own clients and offer specialized services, such as relationship counseling or support for people coping with substance abuse. They can also launch fully online businesses that provide telehealth appointments.10

This entrepreneurship requires knowledge of billing, advertising and other business-critical procedures. Counselors can set themselves up for success by finding mentors and attending workshops to learn business skills.2

Research and Policy Development

Many government agencies hire people with backgrounds in counseling to conduct research and formulate policies.11 For instance, professionals can use their knowledge of psychology and research skills to collect and analyze data about the workforce.12 Similarly, they can treat people who are incarcerated and formulate internal policies for federal correctional institutions.13

Expand your career potential.

Develop transferable skills you can apply in many careers in William & Mary’s Online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Counseling program with a concentration in School Counseling, or explore the concentration in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and the specialization in Military and Veterans Counseling. Our renowned faculty teaches courses on a broad range of concepts and approaches, such as ethical issues in counseling, theories of counseling, and marriage and family counseling. You’ll also take a career development seminar to help you plan your professional journey.

To learn more, schedule an appointment with an admissions outreach advisor today.

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