Counselling jobs have evolved beyond the traditional roles of school counsellors and spiritual counsellors. These days, counselling careers have become more specialised, more sophisticated and more complex. They also require higher standards of education than previous generations have got away with. We look at three different types of counselling jobs, from the more commonly known mental health to the lesser known and still developing genetic counselling.
Mental health counselling
This is probably the type of counselling that springs most readily to mind when people think of counselling careers. It is, in fact, the over-arching branch of counselling that encompasses many specialist forms, such as grief counselling, marriage counselling and rehabilitation counselling. This is because mental health itself is dependent on a broad range of variables. It also means that while standard counselling diplomas and degrees are available, it’s best to choose an area of specialisation for postgraduate study.
Mental health problems that counsellors are likely to encounter include: obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, anorexia, paranoid personality disorder, anxiety and phobias. Counselling contexts in which you might work include support groups, rehab centres, schools, police departments and hospitals.
Counselling jobs aren’t as well paid as some other mental health careers, such as psychology or psychiatry. Salaries depend on factors like place of employment, education and experience. For example, a counsellor at an NGO will earn less than a counsellor at a rehab clinic favoured by celebrities. According to PayScale, mental health counsellors can earn up to $70,000 but that figure can dip down to $27,000.
Don’t think that just because counsellors don’t get paid as much as psychologists that they can study less. These days, if you want to work in counselling you need at least a bachelor degree but master’s degrees are preferred. Australia offers many pathways to counselling degrees, starting with TAFE certificates and diplomas and ending with postgraduate studies. Courses include:
- Bachelor of Human Services (Counselling)
- Graduate Diploma in Community Counselling
- Graduate Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy
- Postgraduate Diploma of Social Health and Counselling
- Master in Counselling
- Master of Social Science (Professional Counselling)
- Doctor of Counselling
This type of counselling has nothing to do with addictions, instead the job involves working with people who have physical injuries or disabilities or who have a social disadvantage (University of Sydney). It’s a collaborative process that requires input from physicians, psychologists and care givers, and includes the client, immediate family and, in some cases, the employer. According to the University of Sydney, the field is growing rapidly, such that supply can’t keep up with demand.
Rehabilitation counselling is one of the better paid jobs in the field. PayScale places the average salary between $48,400 and $82,700
Wikipedia states that, in the US, the minimum education requirement for rehabilitation counsellors is a master’s degree. We can assume that similar standards are applicable worldwide. TAFE institutes and universities in Australia provide several opportunities for you to get your postgraduate counselling qualification with courses that include:
- Graduate Certificate in Service Coordination and Rehabilitation
- Graduate Diploma in Rehabilitation Counselling
- Master of Rehabilitation Counselling
- Master of Health Sciences
- Master of Human Services with Honours in Rehabilitation Counselling
Some diseases are genetic, in other words, they are passed down from parent to child. Modern medicine can identify many of these diseases and estimate the chances of transmitting the disorder between generations. Genetic counselling entails analysing a family’s medical history, determining the level of risk and counselling couples so that they can make an informed choice. If the couple decide to go ahead and have a baby, counsellors then provide them with the support and guidance necessary to minimise the risk and adapt to life in worst case scenarios. Parents who already have children with genetic disorders can also consult counsellors for support and advice.
Genetic counselling is a highly specialised career that requires medical knowledge and counselling skills. It’s essential that you arm yourself to the teeth with qualifications, so that you can provide clients with the best support possible. As a highly specialised career, genetically counselling is also quite well paid. Salary estimates hover between $70,000 and $80,000.
People migrate to genetic counselling from a variety of careers, including psychology, social work, midwifery and science, but they all have to complete some form of specialised genetic counselling qualification. Courses available include:
- Graduate Diploma in Genetic Counselling
- Master of Science with Honours in Genetic Counselling
- Master of Genetic Counselling
As you can see, counselling careers extend far beyond the traditional roles of family or addictions counsellor. These days, if you want to work in counselling you have a host of options available, some more specialised and technically demanding than others. The one thing that all of these jobs have in common, however, is that they require excellent education in the form of counselling degrees, graduate diplomas and postgraduate qualifications.
TafeCourses.com.au promotes a range of online and classroom-based courses that you can complete part-time or full-time to help you on your way to a successful counselling career.