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Which Disciplines of Counseling Are Experiencing the Most Job Growth?

In a tight economy such as today's, it has become increasingly harder for students to find jobs after they graduate. That means in addition to weighing factors such as salary and what they would like to do for a living, students are also considering the anticipated job growth when choosing a field of study. If you're debating which field of counseling is the right career path for you, consider the expected job growth of each discipline.

Anticipated Job Growth Amounts

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports estimated job growth amounts for major disciplines of counseling. The rate of expected job growth across all occupations is 14 percent through the end of the decade, according to the BLS. Generally, workers in community and social service occupations can look forward to a better job outlook, with about a 24 percent increase in jobs expected during that same time. Some disciplines of counseling fall closer to the average across all occupations. Others are expected to grow by nearly three times that amount.

For example, finding a job in their chosen field may be more difficult for aspiring school and career counselors than for counterparts other disciplines of counseling. Opportunities in this profession are expected to grow by 19 percent. Despite the additional educational requirements, psychologists don't fare much better than counselors. The job outlook for counseling and clinical psychologists includes just 22 percent growth. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors have a somewhat brighter job outlook, with 27 percent growth anticipated for these fields. Similarly, rehabilitation counselors are looking at a 28 percent boost in job prospects. By far the best job growth within the field of counseling is in disciplines such as mental health counseling, in which opportunities are estimated to increase by 36 percent, and marriage and family therapy, where the anticipated job growth is a whopping 41 percent.

Reasons for Job Growth

The numbers may seem arbitrary, but there are reasons behind them. Student enrollment in K-12 schools is increasing, but not so rapidly that the job growth estimates for school counselors are skyrocketing. However, the number of these positions available could increase by as much as 34 percent at the college level. Changes to the criminal justice system may mean that people arrested for drug-related crimes will have to undergo treatment. Rehabilitation counselors will be in greater demand than previously because there are more elderly people living with disabilities who will need help coping. The cheaper cost of paying mental health counselors and family therapists as compared to psychologists may make insurance companies more willing to pay for these services, boosting the demand for those qualified to provide them.

Though the economy as a whole might be rather unimpressive, some fields, like healthcare, seem to be consistently growing. That's good news for many aspiring counselors. By applying for jobs in counseling's various work settings, from hospitals to universities, aspiring counselors can further increase their job marketability.

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