Is counseling the right career for you?

What does the counseling profession entail?

Professional Counselors are graduate-level (either master’s or doctoral degree) mental health service providers, trained to work with individuals, families, and groups in treating mental, behavioral, and emotional problems and disorders.

A Professional Counselor will possess a master’s or doctoral degree in one of the following areas:

  • Addiction Counseling
  • Career Counseling
  • Clinical Mental Health or Community Agency Counseling
  • Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling
  • School Counseling
  • Student Affairs and College Counseling
  • Gerontological Counseling, or
  • Counselor Education & Supervision

Becoming a Counselor

Education

  1. Obtain Bachelor’s Degree as a prerequisite, in a liberal arts major
  2. Obtain Master’s Degree in a counseling program

The national accrediting bodies for counseling programs include: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP) and Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE).

  • CACREP is an independent agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation to accredit master's degree programs in Counseling and related Education Programs.
    Review CACREP here.
  • CORE accredits graduate programs which provide academic preparation for a variety of professional rehabilitation counseling positions.
    Review CORE here.

 Experience

  1. Practicum
  2. Internships
These experiences will be outlined and included in your Counseling program to receive hands-on experience in the counseling profession.

License/Certification Process

After completion of graduate-level coursework, in order to find meaningful employment, professional counselors have the option(s) to become a National Certified Counselor (NCC), Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, and/or a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). 

The National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) certification program recognizes counselors who have met predetermined standards in their training, experience and performance on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE), the most portable credentialing examination in counseling.  Read more.

The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with disabilities.  CRCC sets the standard for quality rehabilitation counseling services through its internationally recognized certification program. Read more 

For more information regarding professional licensure and requirements contact your state board.

Considering a PhD

A doctorate is not necessary to practice; most practitioners are educated at the masters-level.

A doctorate is for professionals who want to become expert Researchers, Educators, Supervisors, or Consultants.

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  • Stay ahead of the educational learning curve
  • Advocate for the counseling care of tomorrow
  • Expand your networking connections

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Latest News

Help ACA design the 2014 For Graduate Students and New Professionals Only conference series in Hawaii!

by Don Kenneally | Apr 11, 2013
ACA really enjoys paying as much attention as we can to graduate students and new professionals and we need your help to do so.

Dear Graduate Students and New Professionals,

ACA really enjoys paying as much attention as we can to graduate students and new professionals and we need your help to do so.

An important ACA initiative is our special For Graduate Students and New Professionals Only conference series. Each year at the annual conference, ACA provides education sessions by some of the most famous authors, theorists, and leaders in professional counseling on topics specifically chosen by graduate students and new professionals. Previous For Graduate Students and New Professionals Only presentations have included:

  • Patricia Arredondo—Making the Most of Supervision.
  • Gerald Corey—Finding a Meaningful Life After Graduate School.
  • Gerald Corey, Marianne Corey, & Jamie Bludworth—Becoming a Professional Counselor
  • Rebecca Daniel-Burke—Finding a Counseling Job in This Lousy Economy. A New Opportunity: Getting a Job in Integrated Care.
  • Marcheta Evans—What Graduate Students and New Professionals Need to Know About Mindfulness.
  • Jo-Ann Lipford Sanders—What Graduate Students and New Professionals Need to Know About the Current State of Multiculturalism.
  • Carman Gill & Stephanie Dailey—Got Spirit? Our Clients Do.
  • Sam Gladding—What Graduate Students and New Professionals Need to Know About Humor in Counseling.
  • Sam Gladding & Donna Henderson—Keeping the Boundaries From Breaking in Counselor Education: Professor/Student Relationships.
  • Jane Goodman—Master Teaching Techniques for Rookie Counselor Educators.
  • Allen & Mary Ivey—What Graduate Students and New Professionals Need to Know About Neuroscience.
  • Marty Jencius—What Graduate Students and New Professionals Need to Know About Social Media.
  • Jeffrey Kottler—What Can I Do With My Counseling Degree? Career Options for Graduate Students and New Professionals.
  • Courtland Lee—Let Your Degree be Your Passport: International Opportunities for Graduate Students and New Professionals.
  • Lynn Linde—Office Politics 101.
  • Sandra Lopez-Baez—Practical Pointers for Graduate Students and Professionals.
  • Deborah Legge—Preparing Graduate students and New Professionals for Success in Private Practice.
  • Chris Moll—From Backpacks to Briefcases: Making the Transition From Graduate Student to Professional Counselor.
  • Jane Myers—Wellness & Self-Care for Graduate Students and New Professionals.
  • Beverly O’Bryant—Knowing me, Supporting Me, and Marketing Me.
  • Cynthia Osborne, Pamela Paisley & Jack Culbreth—How to Find Post-Grad Supervision on a Shoestring Budget.
  • Mark Pope—How to Get Through Your Dissertation (and Graduate).
  • Anneliese Singh—“Do Ask, Do Tell”: Current LGBTQ Issues in Counseling for Graduate Students and New Professionals.
  • Don W. Locke—Building Skills and Advocating for the Counseling Profession.

ACA needs your help in determining the lineup for the 2014 ACA conference in Hawaii next March. We would love to have you respond to the following two questions: 1.—Other than a faculty member in your own program, who is a famous counselor that you would enjoy seeing (and meeting) at the conference? Who is the person most likely to get the following reaction from you: “I can’t believe I’m seeing her/him in person!”

2. What topic(s) would you like to see at the 2014 conference for the For Graduate Students and New Professionals Only series? Most of our student attendees are enrolled in master’s degree programs, so while we certainly want doctoral level related programs, we are especially desirous of topics that are meaningful to master’s level students and new professionals.

ACA thanks you for your willingness to help construct the 2014 For Graduate Students and New Professionals Only series. The ACA conference is the world’s largest conference for professional counselors (3,500 attended the Cincinnati conference last month) and we hope that everyone can come to Hawaii. For information on the conference – including how to submit a proposal before the June 5th deadline- visit www.counseling.org/conference. Even if you can’t attend we still would love to have your ideas for the series.

You can send your thoughts directly to ACA at dkaplan@counseling.org.