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What Can You Do With a Master’s in Counseling Psychology?

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Whether you have your diploma in hand or are making career plans for the future, a master’s in counseling psychology opens many doors. Although you may still have questions about the exact path your professional path will take, you can be assured that with ample research, you’ll find a career that suits you.

You may be surprised by what you can do with a master’s in counseling psychology. Some graduates prefer to work in a school setting where they’re able to interact with children and families regularly. Others may prefer the comfort of a private office where they’re able to set their own hours and work with adult patients. Other graduates may be most concerned with earning potential and job security. 

The number of job prospects may seem overwhelming at first, but we’ve outlined the most common opportunities to help you narrow things down.

What Types of Careers Can I Pursue?

Take a look at the following roles in the field of counseling psychology. You’ll learn more about the day-to-day responsibilities, job growth opportunities, salary and education requirements. 

School Counselor

Have you always wanted to work with kids in a school setting? Do you thrive on the energy of those around you? You may enjoy working as a school counselor. 

The role of a school counselor will vary depending on the school setting. School counselors work with students as young as elementary school through high school and even college. A school counselor’s objective is to help students build personal, social and organizational skills so that they’re able to excel academically. School counselors also help students navigate their lives at school, including issues relating to their relationships with teachers and fellow students, and their choice of coursework for the best chance at success. At the high school and college level, school counselors assist students in their career development and steer students towards opportunities in higher education. 

Most school counselors hold an undergraduate degree in counseling psychology, psychology, education or social work. Students then go on to complete a master’s in psychology, sociology or education. The current job market is projected to grow by 12.6% between 2016-2026. There are an estimated 291,700 school counselors in the United States today, and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a school counselor makes an average of $58,120 per year

Child Psychologist

Do you prefer meeting with students one-on-one in a more controlled environment? A child psychologist works with children in a private office setting, school or hospital to resolve personal or familial issues with the help of family or guardians. 

Child psychologists may focus on specific issues like learning difficulties or trouble concentrating, and they can diagnose conditions such as depression, anxiety or ADHD. Psychologists might also focus on the effects of major life changes or trauma that a child has experienced. In some cases, a child psychologist may also work closely with the child’s teacher or pediatrician. 

Other types of child psychologists may choose to work in a research setting — often academic or governmental — where they dedicate their time to studying child behavior and treatment and recovery of mental disorders. 

Most child psychologists have a BA in psychology before going on to earn their MA in counseling psychology. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, career opportunities for psychologists are expected to grow 19% by 2024, which will add around 32,500 jobs. Child psychologists are particularly in demand when it comes to schools, hospitals and mental health centers. 

Clinical Social Worker

Clinical social workers focus their practice in one of a number of areas. The types of social workers include child and family social workers, criminal justice social workers, substance abuse social workers and hospice and home care social workers. 

Clinical social workers typically see patients in small group or individual sessions. Individuals in this field must have an understanding of mental and emotional disorder development, because they’ll work closely with clients experiencing emotional and/or behavioral distress. Oftentimes, these root issues are creating tension in a person’s familial, social, professional and financial life. Clinical social workers may meet privately with clients in an office setting, and they may also travel on-site to meet with clients in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, group homes and correctional facilities. Their work is usually broken into the following categories: 

  • Assessment
  • Diagnosis
  • Psychotherapy and evidence-based practices
  • Case management 

Clinical social workers typically hold a MA in counseling psychology or social work (MSW). According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a clinical social worker makes an average of $51,760 per year

Did you know there’s a variety of options for funding your degree besides  loans? Learn more in our new resource, The Complete Guide to Financial Aid.

Marriage and Family Counselor

Are you drawn to the idea of working with families and couples to help them function better and build healthier relationships? Although most people may associate this particular job title with marital counseling or group family therapy, the range of services a marriage and family counselor provides varies greatly. These types of counselors are called on to work with clients experiencing child and adolescent behavioral problems, depression and anxiety, substance abuse, infertility and grieving. 

On a day-to-day basis, marriage and family counselors will observe family and couple interactions, evaluate relationship issues, guide clients through major life changes such as death or divroce, redirect dysfunctional behaviors and promote healthy new habits. 

Most marriage and family counselors have an undergraduate degree in counseling, psychology, or sociology. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a marriage and family counselor makes an average of $51,340 per year.

Adult and Geriatric Counselor

As they age, older adults and seniors may experience physical limitations or cognitive impairments that make daily life a struggle. Family members may not know how best to support their loved one. Adult and geriatric counselors are well-versed in dealing with clients experiencing these major life transitions. 

Geriatric counselors may work closely with medical staff at a hospital, nursing home or other care facility to determine a client’s mental and physical health concerns, dietary issues, sleep habits and overall quality of life. 

Upon completing their bachelor’s degrees, prospective adult and geriatic counselors who wish to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) status must obtain their MA in social work of counseling psychology. According to ZipRecruiter, an adult and geriatric counselor makes an average of $75,082.

Rehabilitation Counselor 

Do you have a special interest in working with rehabilitation centers or youth organizations? Rehabilitation counselors most often work with senior citizens and adolescents across a variety of programs. The primary role of rehabilitation counselors is to help people live independent lives and overcome physical, mental, developmental or social barriers that stand in the way. 

A rehabilitation counselor works closely with a client and their family as well as with physicians, psychologists, occupational therapists and employers to devise a success plan for the client. Plans may include helping veterans lead an independent life, assisting clients with substance abuse disorders, offering school-to-work transition services and providing elderly people with proper health accommodations as needed. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is projected to grow by 10% between 2020 and 2030. A rehabilitation counselor makes an average of $37,530 per year

Sports Psychologist 

Looking for the intersection of psychology and athletics? A sports psychologist works intimately with athletes at all levels to overcome injuries, improve performance and work toward goals both inside and outside the sport. 

Many athletes experience emotional distress such as anxiety or depression based on their high-pressure career and the emphasis placed on performance. Sports psychologists are attuned to these stressors and work closely with athletes to manage if not eliminate some of the stress they experience. On a daily basis, sports psychologists help athletes to enhance their performance, recover from injuries, cope with pressure around competition, maintain an exercise program and discover a new passion for their sport and professional lives again. 

To become a sports psychologist, you’ll need to earn your MA in counseling psychology or a related field. To find out more about openings in the field, you can visit organizations such as the Association for Applied Sport Psychology or the U.S. Olympic Committee sport psychology registry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a sports psychologist makes an average of $50,280 per year.

How Do I Get Started?

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the number of students interested in pursuing psychology first academically, and then professionally, continues to grow. Between 2004-2013, the number of master’s degrees in the field of psychology jumped by 54%. The number continues to grow today. 

If you’re still wondering what a master’s in counseling psychology can do for you and are unsure where to begin, SNU is here to help. SNU offers psychology degree programs at the bachelor’s and master’s level. 

If you’re ready to jumpstart your career and pursue a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology, SNU’s program offers rigorous coursework with equal parts theory, research and method. You’ll take on an internship to hone your skills and receive academic feedback from your advisor. You’ll earn a total of 60 credit hours, which can be completed in as few as 28 months. 

Learn more about SNU’s full range of academic programs and find the right fit for you today.

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