"Whatever the reasons, individuals that choose to seek a career in counseling usually have one thing in common—a desire to help people work through life's challenges." —Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
Become a Counselor
For more than 100 years, counselors have been called by their desire to help, advocate for, and support those looking for meaning, direction, and fulfillment. Today, one in five Americans suffers from mental illness, and there has never been more need for trained, caring counselors. For individuals in need, counselors offer a connection to hope and a healthier life.
If you are ready to become a counselor, you will need to earn a master’s in counseling to seek licensure, which is required to practice in all states.
What is counseling?
The field of counseling is rooted in historical perspective. Beginning in the 1800s as a form of advice-giving and evolving to today’s research-based practice, counseling has always sought to provide guidance and support to those in need. You can learn about what mental health counselors do and discover how they help individuals, families, couples, and groups address life challenges and choices—from managing stress to overcoming addictions. You can also explore our History of Counseling time line to learn more about the field.
Is counseling right for me?
The mental health profession offers a range of career options, from social work to psychology to counseling. But which one is right for you? To decide, examine the differences between these fields.
- Explore Clinical Mental Health Counseling Versus Psychology
- Explore Clinical Mental Health Counseling Versus Social Work
Which careers are available?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that careers in counseling will grow by 29 percent between 2012 and 2022. With changes in the American health care system, advances in research, and a growing need across the country, graduates who hold a master’s in clinical mental health counseling are well positioned to make a broad impact across a range of settings. Learn more about careers in counseling.
How do I become a counselor?
To become a counselor, you must earn your master’s degree in counseling and sit for the licensure exam in the state in which you plan to practice. Northwestern University offers its top Master of Arts in Counseling degree online, which allows you to earn a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from one of the world’s most recognized universities no matter where you live.