Like teachers, the field of counseling is seriously under-appreciated, but can be emotionally rewarding. The field is for the altruistic; individuals that are looking to contribute to their communities and bring help to those in need. Counselors listen and advise. They deal with the profound responsibility of having a dynamic impact on their clients' lives. The industry offers a number of options, giving candidates the opportunity to work in many environments. A commensurate salary will be dependent on a number of factors. Qualifications, education, geographic location, license and certification, and experience will ultimately determine what a counselor earns.
Keeping that criteria in mind, here are some of the top salaries received in the counseling field. Salaries are according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Mental Health Counselor
Suicidal impulses, self-esteem issues, stress, addiction and anxiety all fall under the umbrella of the mental health specialist. This field includes psychologists and psychiatrists. They probe diligently, looking to help others with emotional disorders. Professionals may offer services on an individual basis. They may also facilitate groups, dealing with a specific issue. Counseling is usually voluntary, but there are instances where it may be court ordered or required to keep a job. The median salary in this field as of 2010 was $38,000. This is based on mental health practitioners working in the public market. Counselors running private practices could earn significantly more.
Marriage and Family Counselor
Marriage counselors help families work through perceptions and miscommunications to institute better relations. They deal with a lot of the same issues as school counselors, personalizing programs for their clients. It's a growing occupation. Again, as in the mental health field, a marriage counselor can expect to make more running a private practice. Many counselors work with community centers, the church, hospitals, law enforcement and government programs. These counselors earn in the range of $46,000.
These specialists provide guidance to students and parents. Their intent is to help clients successfully manage classes, social lives and to prepare for the future. They work with drug issues, peer pressure, grades, anger management, depression, bullying and any other social aspect of a youth's life. They are responsible for testing and assessment of students, helping them determine what schools they should attend and what life goals to look at. It is definitely an important career and requires dedication and patience. In most districts, salary is based on experience. In 2010, the median pay was in the vicinity of $53,000.
These counselors work with the elderly, preparing them for or dealing directly with emotional and health disorders and life changes. They can work at hospitals, senior centers and convalescent centers. These counselors need a graduate degree and specialized training in elder care. A number of states also require at least 3,000 hours in a clinical setting. This is still a relatively new arena and records of salary are sparse. In 2006, the average salary was in the vicinity of $60,000.
Like the medical community, what field a counselor chooses to go into will affect the salary. The field specialty may require specific education and training. There could be additional personalized training, experience and learned knowledge. All of this will play a part in compensation.