What are the Highest-Paying Counseling Jobs?

Counseling is a career that professionals tend to enter not to make a fortune, but to do good – public service, after all, isn’t a big money-making endeavor. But some jobs in counseling pay better than others, so when students are considering their choices, it’s a good idea to think about where to specialize to find the highest-paying counseling jobs. (Note: Salaries are based on current Payscale data.)

  • 1. Marriage – $51,300 
  • 2. School – $50,800
  • 3. Career – $45,500 
  • 4. Geriatric – $44,500  
  • 5. Mental Health – $43,200 
  • 6. Grief – $42,500 
  • 7. Family – $41,500 
  • 8. Veteran – $40,900 
  • 9. Pediatric – $40,200 
  • 10. Substance Abuse – $40,000 

1. Marriage Counselor

highest paying counseling jobs

In order to become a marriage counselor you will have to earn a Bachelor’s degree. Once you have a Bachelor’s degree, you will need to earn a Master’s degree with a focus on family therapy. Your Bachelor’s degree should be in psychology or social work so that you have a solid foundation for when you enroll in your Master’s degree program.

Average Annual Salary: $51,300

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2. School Counselor

You can become a school counselor once you have earned a Bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology, or other related fields. Graduates are encouraged, however, to pursue a Master’s degree in school counseling with a focus on family or child psychology. Accredited programs are often the best type of program. Accreditation ensures that you have received the level of education you need to be an effective counselor.

Average Annual Salary: $50,800

3. Career Counselor

To become a career counselor tart your education with a Bachelor’s degree in human services or sciences. Behavioral sciences is another option. After you have completed your Bachelor’s program, complete a Master’s degree with a specialization in counseling. You can then go on to graduate work or enter into an internship program. Once you have met the requirements, you can apply for certification or licensure. Many schools offer certification programs that allow you to prepare for your state exam.

Average Annual Salary: $45,500

4. Geriatric Counselor

The first step in becoming a geriatric counselor is to receive a Bachelor’s degree in psychology/counseling with specializations in family and elderly care. It is recommended that you continue on and earn a Master’s degree. You may, however, be able to earn your license to practice earlier if you can enroll in an internship that meets the licensing requirements. Internships can often be completed in nursing homes and other types of facilities for the elderly.

Average Annual Salary: $44,500

5. Mental Health Counselor

The first step in becoming a mental health counselor is to complete a Bachelor’s degree program specializing in mental health counseling. Your next step should include evaluating your skills and abilities to determine if this type of career is right for you. You will also need to complete a Master’s degree program in counseling that is in compliance with mental health standards on a national level. Licensing is required in most states. You will need to learn what is required and make sure you are eligible to sit for the test.

Average Annual Salary: $43,200

6. Grief Counselor

To be a grief counselor, you must have completed both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree program with a specialization in mental health counseling, family counseling, or community counseling. You can also include specializations for social work or gerontology. Grief counselors may be required to apply for and complete an internship as well as sit for a state licensing exam.

Average Annual Salary: $42,500

7. Family Counselor

Becoming a family therapist includes completing a Bachelor’s degree in counseling and then moving on to complete a Master’s degree. After you have completed a Master’s degree with a specialization in social work, family therapy, or psychology, you will need to become an intern and earn at least two years of hands-on, clinical experience. Once you have completed your internship, you can apply for your license to practice.

Average Annual Salary: $41,500

8. Veteran Counselor

In order to work with veterans as a counselor, you must have a Bachelor’s degree in social science, behavioral science, or other psychology-related fields. The next step is earning a Master’s degree in any of the previously listed sciences as well as a specialization in working with military populations. It is also beneficial to have been in the military at some point. Many veterans will respond better to someone who has a military affiliation.

Average Annual Salary: $40,900

9. Pediatric Counselor

In order for you to become a pediatric or child counselor, you will have to earn a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in behavioral science or other psychology-related fields. During your Master’s program, you will need to have a specialization in child/adolescent behavior and development. In addition to your degrees, you will have to complete an internship as well as pass any type of state license or certification that is required.

Average Annual Salary: $40,200

10. Substance Abuse Counselor

Substance abuse counselors need to have at least a Bachelor’s degree in psychology or behavioral sciences. A Master’s degree in behavioral sciences, psychology, or other types of social work is also beneficial. You may also apply for certification courses and internship programs as well. Licensing is sometimes required depending on where you live and what type of counseling you will be offering.

Average Annual Salary: $40,000

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