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What’s the Career Outlook for Counselors?

21 Aug
Job Outlook for Counselors

If you are called to serve others, then perhaps you’ve already made the choice to become a counselor. Even so, you may be wondering what the job prospects are for you if you pursue a career in this field. Fortunately, in addition to being professionally and personally fulfilling, counseling is on the upswing: Demand for both clinical mental health counselors and school counselors has risen steadily since 2004.1

Many individuals in these fields find employment in clinical settings, such as community clinical mental health centers and private practices, or in elementary, middle or high schools, and the number of available jobs in these environments is expected to continue to increase.

Clinical mental health and school counselors address a diverse range of issues that affect the lives of clients and their families. Here’s a broad overview of these counseling specializations, as well as the career outlook for each.

What Does a Clinical Mental Health Counselor Do?

Clinical mental health counselors work to improve the well-being of their clients by applying established counseling techniques within a safe helping relationship. These counselors strive to help clients discover and apply the personal resources they need for optimal emotional, behavioral and vocational development. They focus on holistic wellness and provide personalized tools and guidelines for avoiding stress or personal triggers. Typically, these counselors work as part of a larger collaborative team.

There are a variety of specialized roles open to those who want to focus on clinical mental health counseling. They may work in:

  • Outpatient mental health centers
  • Substance abuse treatment centers
  • Individual or family practices
  • Hospitals
  • Community health centers
  • Prisons

Career Outlook for Clinical Mental Health Counselors

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this field is growing faster than most. In 2016, there were more than 260,000 jobs associated with this counseling specialty, and the number of opportunities is expected to grow by an additional 60,300 positions within the next 10 years. That’s a projected growth rate of 23 percent.2

What Does a School Counselor Do?

School counselors work with students to enhance their academic, social/emotional and career development through creating and managing comprehensive school counseling programs. Put simply, they provide students with the support and resources they may need to help them succeed. Tactics may include individual and group counseling, crisis response services and classroom lessons on relevant topics.

But the school counselor’s job doesn’t stop with students. These professionals may also work closely with parents, keeping them apprised of their child’s progress and providing insight and instruction on how to work through developmental or personal challenges. They also collaborate with teachers and administrators to develop after-school programs and support groups, and they’re often key to creating strategies that mitigate the risk and/or effect of bullying and other social problems.

Career Outlook for School Counselors

The career outlook for counselors working in elementary, middle or high schools or colleges is promising, and opportunities exist in both public and private school systems as well as some private practices. Plus, with school enrollments expected to rise by as much as 3 percent in the next 10 years (an increase of almost 2 million students),3 job opportunities for school counselors can be expected to rise, too.

The BLS reports that the job rate in the field of school counseling is expected to increase by at least 13 percent over a 10-year period, which is faster than average. In 2016, there were 291,700 professional job opportunities with an additional 37,000 expected by the year 2026.4

Choose a Career With Growth and Impact

Counseling careers, whether in a mental health facility, private practice, public school or community center, offer a variety of options for those looking to make a difference. And with a master’s degree in counseling, you could be eligible for licensure or certification in the specialty of your choice, potentially strengthening your candidacy for a wider variety of positions.

If you are an active and attentive listener with the desire to make a difference in people’s lives, this could be your ideal path. Consider furthering your career at the William & Mary School of Education with the CACREP-accredited Online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Counseling, and you could take advantage of meaningful opportunities as a clinical mental health counselor or school counselor.

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  4. Retrieved on June 7, 2018, from