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How Much Money Does a Counselor in Private Practice Make?

counseling-salaryIf you are considering enrolling in a graduate counseling program, you may be interested in learning about your future counseling salary potential to determine whether pursuing a master's degree is worth the investment. While most counselors enter the mental health field to work with individuals or groups who are experiencing problems in their everyday lives, it is important to understanding the average salary outlook to ensure the career path will meet your monetary needs. Luckily, those graduating with a master's degree in counseling can expect long-term career opportunities with rather attractive salaries. Since potential earnings vary greatly depending on the industry, the following is an overview of the average salaries for professional licensed counselors specifically employed in private practices.

Average Counselor Salary in Private Practice

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, counselors who work with individuals or groups in their own private practices to promote optimum mental and emotional health enjoy an average annual salary of $49,230, which is equivalent to an hourly mean wage of $23.67. While the bottom ten percent with little experience earn around $25,430 yearly on average, those at the top ten percent with years of experience in private practice make a mean $66,630 each year. Although counselors in private practices do not earn as much money as those employed for insurance carriers, universities, and the state government, they make considerably more than counselors in hospitals and mental health facilities.

Average Salary Based on Type of Counseling Services

As you might expect, the average counseling salary in private practice can be highly dependent on the type of counseling services you are planning to provide. Clinical mental health counselors who address issues associated with mental, emotional, and psychological disorders earn an average of $43,290 annually. Vocational counselors who provide guidance services in planning career moves make a mean $56,170 each year. Substance abuse counselors who offer clients assistance in overcoming alcoholism or other drug addictions make an average of $40,920. Rehabilitation counselors who are responsible for helping clients cope with personal, social, and vocational difficulties from traumatic experiences earn a mean $34,440 annually.

Salary Outlook Based on Location of Private Practice

Since location plays an important role in requirements for licensing, continuing education, and insurance for those with their own private practice, it is no surprise that where you work as a counselor can also have a large effect on how much you earn. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates the top-earning states for counselors in private practice are Alaska at $56,300, Wyoming at $52,660, and Arkansas at $50,590. Furthermore, the top-earning metropolitan areas in the United States are in Mankato at $67,140, Anchorage at $62,580, and Detroit at $62,440 each year.

While these figures indicate the average salaries earned by professional counselors in private practices, it is important to realize that some counselors can earn significantly more depending on their specific hourly rate, work schedule, and number of patients. If you are interested in building a successful high-earning private practice, it is recommended that you earn a master's degree in counseling from a program accredited by the CACREP and obtain valuable years of experience to fulfill all licensing and insurance requirements. Then, you will have the credentials to start your own private practice and be on your way to earning a very pleasing counseling salary!


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