Becoming a Counselor

Trained to give people guidance and suggest solutions related to their personal, social and psychological issues (and depending on his or her specialty), a counselor may save a marriage, save a schoolchild in distress, or save a life. As a faith-based counselor, religion plays an important role in the advice and direction given to individuals, families, and groups. They may counsel clients who are struggling with their faith, or provide recommendations in accordance with a particular denomination. There are also many other areas that an aspiring counselor may specialize in, such as drug addiction, anger management, high school, and/or eating disorders.

Job Activities & Responsibilities

Counselors are expected to know the current issues, suggested treatment plans, and case studies related to their area of expertise. A faith-based counselor must be trained to handle a wide range of sensitive issues affecting clients who may deal with depression, relationship difficulties, gender identity, and sexual assault. They oftentimes specialize in fields that involve mental health and wellness, physical health, education, or careers. For example, school counselors are found at every level of education, and may encounter at-risk students, anxiety cases, as well as provide college and career counseling. Rehabilitation counselors are knowledgeable in addressing issues with senior disabilities. Marriage counselors learn techniques on couple’s therapy guided by faith.

Overall, the day-to-day activities associated with the counseling field include:

  • Evaluating the abilities, interests, skills and personal issues affecting a client
  • Arranging for clients to obtain services, from medical care to tutoring (depending on job title)
  • Identifying issues that affect performance and quality of life, such as negative personal relationships
  • Assisting clients in developing their strengths and overcoming any limitations
  • Assessing the appropriate resources for clients on an individual and/or group basis
  • Maintaining client records and overseeing their progress
  • Serving as an advocate, when necessary


School and guidance-, career-, rehabilitation-, and mental health counselors must hold a master’s degree (preferably in counseling or a specific field, like school counseling, or in a related field). Students typically take courses in psychology, sociology and education, as well as theology and divinity classes when they wish to provide faith-based services to clients and individuals. Completing a licensure and/or certification process is another requirement often seen to qualify for most counseling jobs. Jobs within a medical setting often require the completion of 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience.

Career Salary & Job Outlook

Faith-based counselors may enter a wide range of career fields, finding employment at religious learning institutions, Christian nonprofits, private schools, and the government. Many factors affect the amount of money that a counselor makes, including years of experience, education, type of employer, and specialty. Overall, all counselors, social workers and social services specialists fell into a category that earned a median annual salary of $43,860 in 2017. In that year, rehabilitation counselors, who primarily work with disabled clients, earned $34,860 per year. Substance abuse and mental health counselors were paid $43,330 annually, and counselors working at schools earned $55,410 per year.

The job outlook for counseling jobs is expected to grow at a faster than average pace than all other career choices in the U.S. As school enrollments continue to increase across the nation, the demand for guidance and career counselors will also. A projected 13% growth from 2016 to 2026 will bring 36,700 new job openings during this time period. An anticipated increase in the elderly population translates into the same fast-paced growth for rehabilitation counselor positions; graduates will find 15,100 new positions becoming available in a 10-year time frame.

With an increase in government programs and escalating numbers of people in need of addiction and mental health help, counselors specializing in this field will encounter a much faster than average growth in employment opportunities – a 23% growth rate with a projected 60,300 new openings to emerge.