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Why Get a Master's Degree in Counseling?

Counseling is a field in which those who have compassion for others can find an organized and ordered way to use their empathy. It's a rewarding career, helping those in need to find their way out of a tough or difficult situation. College level schooling is a necessity to pursue this career path, and it's possible to stop at a bachelor's degree to get employment. Many employers, however, are now requiring that prospective employees have a masters in counseling to better serve patients.

Who Should Become a Counselor?

Counseling involves providing neutral, compassionate guidance to a person dealing with personal troubles. Many professionals who find their way into this career path are people who selflessly like to help others during a difficult time. Their pleasure comes from knowing that they assisted others during a bad time in their life and gave them the tools with which to deal with the problem. Ultimately, counselors aim to help people move past their issues and guide them toward a life that is free from the problems that were dragging them down.

Almost everyone needs some help from a professional at some point in life, whether it's during elementary or high school years, when a marriage is in trouble, or when overcoming drug addiction. Issues such as these can be addressed by a counselor who is specifically trained to deal with these problems and help work through to a solution.

Bettering Your Education through Graduate School

The field of counseling is a wide one with many applications. A graduate can choose working in a clinic, as a guidance counselor or even open a solo practice. In order to provide therapy for the issue at hand, the counselor has to decide on which path to take. This could be in:
  • Rehabilitation
  • Substance abuse
  • Behavioral disorder
  • Marriage and family therapy
  • Mental health
  • Educational, vocational, and school counseling
During the first four years of schooling, an individual has to fulfill requirements to earn a bachelor's degree. This is on top of the coursework required for becoming a counselor. This makes it more difficult to focus on one particular career track, but does give an excellent framework for moving onto a master's in counseling. Taking the steps towards a master's degree combines the initial education with a specific area of counseling, and it makes students more attractive to a potential employer.

Why Employers Prefer a Masters in Counseling

The first four years of schooling to become a counselor are limited in its scope. Someone can graduate with a bachelor's degree and be considered a counselor, but he or she is considered a generalist at this point. An employer such as a school district may be willing to hire a counselor with just a bachelor's degree but will most likely prefer a candidate with a master's and a specialized education in school counseling.

The extra years of schooling are well worth it, especially since choosing a particular focus can open more doors during your counseling career.