Written by: Rachel Schneider
Last updated: May 2020
Counselors can work in many different specialty areas, performing duties that vary depending on their specific discipline. Counselors working in school settings focus on helping students reach their academic goals, while mental health counselors assist patients or clients with mental illnesses.
Iowa employs about 2,600 school counselors, 1,900 rehabilitation counselors, and 2,510 substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors. Salary opportunities also vary among disciplines. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, school counselors in Iowa earned an annual mean wage of $54,910 in 2019, while rehabilitation counselors earned about $40,420.
The Iowa Board of Behavioral Science grants licenses for counselors and regulates practice. Applicants interested in licensure must hold a master's degree in counseling from an accredited institution.
The rankings below offer readers the best programs for earning counseling degrees in Iowa. These rankings include relevant information about curriculum requirements, program length, and program cost.
Career Outlook for Counselors in Iowa
Counselors practicing in Iowa can explore a variety of lucrative career opportunities. Common careers for counseling professionals include roles as mental health counselors, school counselors, and genetic counselors.
Mental health counselors work with clients who face a variety of mental illnesses. Most of these counselors work in outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers. The individual and family services industry offers the highest levels of employment for mental health counselors while the management, scientific, and technical consulting services industry boasts the highest salary opportunities.
School counselors focus on helping students in both elementary and secondary schools. The educational support services industry features the highest concentration of employment for these counselors, and the federal executive branch offers the highest salary opportunities. Elementary and secondary schools boast the highest levels of employment.
Counselors interested in working with individuals and families to counsel them on different inherited conditions can pursue careers as genetic counselors. Most of these professionals work in local, state, or private hospitals.
Counseling Degree Programs in Iowa
University of Iowa
College of Education
Via prominent wording at the head of its official website, the College of Education at the University of Iowa promises "powerful and personal education within a Big Ten research institution."
By all outward indications, the College of Education delivers as advertised in a big way. Since its simultaneous beginning with institutional senior and Iowa's oldest higher educational institution UI, it has built a 165-year history that causes much envy and great pride.
IU College of Education graduates consistently achieve great leadership in education, psychology, counseling, and related administrative and research fields. IU expresses special pride in being a Big Ten research academy that offers affordable, personalized, and highly-ranked education. U.S. News & World Report gives IU's College of Education high marks in its 2014 list of America's best doctoral degree grantors.
The Rehabilitation and Counselor Education Department has much to brag about in its own right. Per U.S. News & World Report rankings for 2014, two CEO offerings are among the best counseling degree programs in America.
M.A. in School Counseling ("MASC")
This 54-credit MASC program has a mission of enhancing academic, social, career, and personal development of all postsecondary school children and adolescents. It aims to do so by imparting a high level of consulting, coordinating, and counseling skills to students. That comprehensive battery of competencies seeks to enable graduates to self-generate knowledge of effective interventions and strategies that lead the entire counseling profession.
Specific learning outcomes are:
- Competent professional counseling practice
- Knowledge of theory, clinical skills, and proper school counselor roles
- Promoting counselor accountability and professional credibility
- Be psychologically healthy individuals who employ acute self-awareness in all professional practices
Program completion qualifies graduates for state licensure as K-12 school counselors and application to the National Board for Certified Counselors.
M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling ("MACMHC")
This 60-credit curriculum holds dual accreditation as a Clinical Mental Health program by CACREP and a Rehabilitation Counseling program by the Council on Rehabilitation Education ("CORE"). Its main mission is preparing professional counselors who coordinate resources and assist clients with employment, personal or economic development, and independent living. It also seeks to prepare students to obtain professional licensure as community health counselors.
Like all other IU Rehabilitation Counseling graduate degree programs, MACMHC is a U.S. Dept. of Education RSA Scholars Long-Term Training Grant recipient. This prestigious grant is geared toward increasing the number of qualified M.A. and Ph.D. counseling degree candidates by enhancing recruitment, education, graduation, and job placements in state vocational rehabilitation and related agencies.
Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision
This 96-credit doctoral program has a primary mission to extend counseling knowledge bases within an ambiance of scholarly inquiry. It does so by preparing students to generate evergreen counseling knowledge through dissertation research relevant to counseling education and supervision that accounts for 21st century social climes. Scholars may choose a special emphasis on school counseling, gifted education, or professional leadership.
Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs ("CACREP")
Counselor Education and Rehabilitation Department
Malik S. Henfield, Program Coordinator
N338 Lindquist Center
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: (319) 335-5275
Website URL – http://www.education.uiowa.edu/academic-programs
University of Northern Iowa
School of Applied Human Sciences, Counseling Education Program
UNI's Counseling Education Program was designed to advance its overall agenda of preparing professionals with mastery of the science and art called "counseling" who advocate for and empower clients with healthy development by practicing with multicultural sensitivity and integrity.
The Counseling Education Program also boasts unique qualities such as:
- The nation's first accredited Clinical Mental Health Counseling program
- Among the country's first K-12 and Elementary School Counseling programs
- One of only 240 U.S. programs that utilize the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam ("CPCE") that has enabled graduates to attain an overall pass rate of 98% for CPCE and the National Counselor Exam
- Student-centered learning provided by one-on-one advising and low student/faculty ratios
M.Ed. School Counseling
Consistent with its exemplary reputation, this program received an Innovative Counselor Education Master's Degree Program award from North Central Association for Counselor Education and Supervision ("NCACES") in 1999. That distinguished honor clearly demonstrates its long-standing tradition of academic excellence.
Specific program learning objectives include:
- Be highly competent school counselors
- Advocate for student counseling of highest quality
- Strong knowledge bases and clinical skill sets
- Sensitivity to and knowledgeable of diversity
- Becoming accepted as credible school counselors
- Promoting accountability within the profession and with the public
A unique element of this School Counseling graduate curriculum is preparing graduates for K-12 certification. That distinctive advantage confers greater career mobility on degree conferees by qualifying for counseling positions at any level. It also exposes student counselors to extra education that enhances K-12 program articulation. It achieves this by incorporating several course subjects with special focuses on counseling work with children, adolescents, and parents. All coursework places high emphasis on practical application of theory.
M.A. Mental Health Counseling
This program received the same NCACES award at the same time as its above-listed academic sibling did in 1999. Its 60-credit curriculum consists of 54 credits in CACREP-mandated courses and 6 credits in elective subjects. This design is meant to dovetail with emergent trends toward longer preparation that provides a greater range of more comprehensive graduate counseling education.
Specific learning outcomes include:
- Preparing graduates with skills and knowledge to diagnose and effectively treat mental health disorders
- Exposure to theoretical counseling models applicable to individuals, groups, and families
- Emphasizing practical application of theoretical concepts
- Exceptional training in an on-site practicum at UNI's Counseling Center
- Providing multiple opportunities to interact with and learn from highly esteemed mental health practitioners
- Providing numerous opportunities for professional growth and development via UNI-sponsored conferences
Dr. Roberto Swazo, Counseling Programs Coordinator
Phone: (319) 273-2675
Website URL – http://www.uni.edu/csbs/sahs/counseling/