Get Matched With Mental Health Counseling Colleges
What Career Options are Available for Human Resource Management Majors?
Many colleges and universities in Kentucky offer counseling degree programs. Although outcomes differ depending on the level of education achieved, graduates generally enjoy access to a wide variety of engaging and impactful career opportunities. Those seeking the knowledge and skills necessary to help people manage and overcome emotional and behavioral disorders will find the major most beneficial.
These professionals are primarily responsible for helping single persons, couples, families, and/or groups manage various mental health conditions. However, they are not psychologists or psychiatrists. While mental health counselors often engage in psychotherapy and are capable of offering psychological treatment services to patients, they generally lack the ability to prescribe medications.
Position expectations vary, but most mental health counselors have the knowledge, skills, and training needed to treat patients of all ages and demographics. Some do, however, choose to specialize their services to better support certain groups such as children, adolescents, the elderly, disabled individuals, or military personnel.
They regularly diagnose and treat many emotional and behavioral conditions, including:
- Mood Disorders
- Personality Disorders
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Eating Disorders
- Behavioral Addictions
Responsibilities can vary between positions but most mental health counselors spend time performing client evaluations, treatment readiness assessments, and treatment plan management. Some cases require helping patients process through complicated emotions and behavioral patterns, while others can be handled with recovery guidance and various therapeutic practices. These professionals commonly collaborate with others and frequently make referrals to support groups, out-patient clinics, or healthcare providers.
Mental health counseling can be a challenging career to maintain. While often rewarding, the work can also be stressful and/or emotionally draining. This is particularly true for professionals with large workloads, irregular hours, or involved with on-call emergency duty rotations.
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Online Healthcare Management Education in Kentucky
Prospective students should realize, however, that not all academic institutions have programs in clinical mental health counseling specifically. While general counseling degrees are quite common in Kentucky and throughout the United States, specializing in mental health may limit school selection options. This is particularly true at the undergraduate levels, which typically focus on a basic introduction to the field as a whole. Other related subject areas are sometimes more readily available and may be appropriate, depending on the profession sought.
Those seeking online degrees are likely to find few options available, as well. While distance learning is becoming increasingly popular and accepted by employers, many subjects in counseling are difficult to teach remotely. The field is not generally well-suited to this format because hands-on training and practicums are often required components. Prospective students may, however, be able to find acceptable hybrid counseling programs. These degrees are comprised primarily of online instruction and coursework but require those enrolled to participate in periodic residency sessions on campus as well.
Regardless of the format, those who intend to seek employment in Kentucky should give preference to colleges and universities located in the state. These institutions will offer the most geographically relevant curriculums. Additionally, they will be highly familiar with the state’s licensure requirements for counseling professionals. While it is possible to meet licensing expectations after earning a degree from another state, it can make the procedure more complicated.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is expected to increase by 22% from 2021 to 2031. This is much faster than the average for all occupations and will result in an additional 43,600 new job openings throughout the nation each year. This growth is primarily expected due to worker replacement, but demand is also likely as a result of states seeking treatment and counseling services rather than jail time for people with mental health concerns.
The educational services, healthcare, and social assistance industry is the third largest in Kentucky. It accounts for $20 billion in revenue each year. As of May 2021, the state employed 3,920 of these professionals with an annual mean wage of $45,310. Graduates may also qualify for work in many community and social service occupations. As of May 2021, Kentucky employed 30,670 workers in this field, with an annual mean wage of $46,260. It’s important to realize that both wage estimates fall below the state’s annual mean wage for all occupations, which was $48,170 in 2021. Students interested in finding a clinical mental health counseling, counselor education program, or school counseling program, among others can find options all over the state.
Professional clinical counselor licenses are only available to those who meet minimum education requirements in Kentucky. Most other community and social service occupations in the state also require the completion of a higher education degree. While specifics vary, those interested in pursuing this field should plan to enroll in an academic program of some sort.
Many colleges and universities in Kentucky offer degrees in counseling and other related subjects. Prospective students can choose from options at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Notably, however, the most prestigious jobs are generally reserved for individuals with advanced degrees in the field.
Online Associate Degree in Healthcare Management (AS)
As previously mentioned, few academic institutions offer associate degrees in mental health counseling, though you can find related educational programs. Prospective students who wish to enroll in counseling programs at this level will need to select a less specialized major. Compatible options generally include counseling, mental health, human services, behavioral science, social science, or psychology.
Associate degrees typically consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two years to complete. They are undergraduate programs, which mean students will receive instruction in both general liberal arts and major-specific subjects. Curriculums vary, but those enrolled can expect to receive a basic introduction to the field, as well as the foundational knowledge and skills needed for future learning.
This type of degree is insufficient to meet minimum licensure requirements for counselors in Kentucky. It can be beneficial, however, to those interested in pursuing entry-level employment in other community and social service occupations. The specific jobs available after graduation depends on the major selected.
In order to continue working toward licensure, many graduates choose to enroll in bachelor’s degree programs. This is the logical next step for those seeking to continue their education as many colleges and universities accept prior undergraduate class credits earned at other accredited academic institutions. It’s not uncommon for individuals with associate degrees to be only two years away from graduating with more advanced degrees.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Management (BS)
Mental health counseling degrees are still uncommon at this level, making it essential for prospective students to select related educational programs instead. Programs are generally available in counseling, school counseling, family counseling, mental health, human services, behavioral science, social science, or psychology.
Bachelor’s degrees typically consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately four years to complete. They are also undergraduate programs, which mean students will receive instruction in both general liberal arts and major-specific subjects. Curriculums vary, but those enrolled can expect to learn about various behavioral health and counseling theories, while also developing the basic academic skills needed for continued learning.
This type of degree is insufficient to meet minimum licensure requirements for counselors in Kentucky. It can be beneficial, however, for individuals planning to pursue employment in other community and social service occupations. The specific jobs available after graduation depends on the major selected.
Graduates seeking licensure and certification will need to pursue further education by enrolling in related master’s degree programs. Prospective students should be prepared to meet minimum grade point average (GPA) and Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) score requirements set by your chosen school.
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Online Master's Degree in Healthcare Management (MS or MC)
Master’s degrees in mental health counseling generally range from 30 to 45 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two to three years to complete. Curriculums vary, but instruction commonly covers lifespan development, family counseling, attachment theory, group dynamics, interviewing techniques, counseling theories, diagnostic practices, and ethics. These programs frequently incorporate supervised counseling experiences, as well, during which those enrolled gain hands-on experience that can be invaluable once employed.
This type of degree meets the minimum licensure requirements for a licensed professional clinical counselor in Kentucky. Graduates are generally qualified to begin the credentialing process, although additional supervised counseling experiences may be necessary prior to practicing without supervision. Depending on the position sought, master’s programs may or may not be appropriate for individuals pursuing other community and social service occupations. In general, the knowledge and skills attained at this level qualify graduates for more employment opportunities and higher pay.
Online PhD Degree in Healthcare Management (PhD)
A PhD or doctorate in clinical mental health counseling may consist of between 60 and 120 credit hours that can take full-time students up to seven years to complete. Counseling programs can vary significantly, but most provide highly advanced instruction in specialized topics relevant to the field. Instruction related to both qualitative and quantitative research methods is also common, as these will be necessary when preparing final projects. Most colleges and universities require students to write and defend dissertations prior to graduation.
This type of degree meets the licensure requirements for clinical mental health counselors in Kentucky. Doctoral counseling programs may also be useful for individuals interested in continuing to work with patients in clinical settings and/or who want to teach at higher education institutions.
Become a Healthcare Management in Kansas
All mental health counselors must become a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in order to practice in Kentucky. It’s important to realize, however, that not all who graduate with degrees in this field choose to pursue this type of employment. Many opt to become school counselors, rehabilitation counselors, or vocational counselors instead. There are also many other rewarding community and social service occupations to consider.
With so many different professional opportunities available, the first step to becoming a professional in this field is determining your ultimate career goals. Identifying your intended occupation early has many benefits. Not only will it help you find the most appropriate and applicable degree program, but it also ensures you become familiar with the necessary licensure and certification requirements. Additionally, your preferred profession is likely to influence which elective courses, minor areas of study, concentrations, and/or internship opportunities are best.
If you do want to become a mental health counselor in Kentucky, familiarizing yourself with the credentialing process is vital. The Kentucky Board of Licensed Professional Counselors oversees licensing for this profession in the state. Only those who meet the standards of the board will be issued a professional clinical counselor license.
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Candidates must meet many requirements. In addition to paying the application fee, applicants must obtain a master’s, specialist, or doctoral degree in counseling or a related field from a regionally accredited institution.
At minimum, this must include 60 graduate semester hours in the following areas:
- The helping relationship, including counseling theory and practice
- Human growth and development
- Lifestyle and career development
- Group dynamics, process, counseling, and consulting
- Assessment, appraisal, and testing of individuals
- Social and cultural foundation, including multicultural issues
- Principles of etiology, diagnosis, treatment planning, and prevention of mental and emotional disorders and dysfunctional behavior
- Research and evaluation
- Professional orientation and ethics
The board also expects candidates to complete a minimum of 4,000 hours of experience in the practice of counseling after obtaining the necessary education. These hours must be under approved supervision and shall consist of at least 1,600 hours of direct counseling with individuals, couples, families, or groups, as well as 100 hours of individual, face-to-face clinical supervision. While not required, applicants are encouraged to complete a minimum of 10 hours of direct counseling in a jail or corrections setting. An organized practicum or internship consisting of at least 400 hours is also necessary.
Further, passing scores on all portions either the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) or the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE). Both examinations are offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), which is an internationally recognized leading provider of counseling credentialing exams.
Notably, the Kentucky Board of Licensed Professional Counselors may issue a professional counselor associate licensure to candidates who pay all necessary fees and meet the minimum education requirements. Professional counselor associates must, however, have a board-approved supervisor on record.
Once licensed, credential holders are responsible for paying annual renewal fees to the board on or before established renewal dates. A 60-day grace period is provided to those who fail to renew their license on time, but an additional late fee will be assessed. Those who do not meet renewal requirements within 60 days shall have their licensures terminated.
Potential Careers for Healthcare Management Graduates
- Clinical Psychologist
Clinical psychologists specialize in working with patients experiencing psychological issues caused by mental conditions, environmental impacts, or personal circumstances. They consider each case carefully before determining the best care plan possible. While they most commonly assist individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, and/or various behavioral problems, they are generally capable of evaluating, diagnosing, and treating many different conditions. According to PayScale, clinical psychologists make an average base salary of $83,574 per year.
- Counseling Psychologist
Counseling psychologists use various psychological techniques to improve the mental, behavioral, or emotional health of their patients. These professionals regularly perform risk assessments, implement therapy plans, evaluate outcomes, and maintain accurate records. While they can work with patients of all kinds, they frequently offer treatment to people dealing with depression, anxiety, and interpersonal conflicts. According to PayScale, counseling psychologists make an average base salary of $60,552 per year.
- Direct Support Professional
Direct support professionals perform a wide variety of tasks associated with helping people with disabilities. This often includes maintaining patient records, administering medications, fostering community integration, and supporting the development of important social skills. They may also provide assistance with personal care, transportation, and household chores. According to PayScale, direct support workers earn an average base salary of $34,884 per year.
- Forensic Psychologist
Forensic psychologists work with courts, prisons, and mental hospitals, providing important patient assessments and recommendations upon request. They provide a wide variety of assistance during legal proceedings. This can range from evaluating the mental competency of criminals to diagnosing mental health conditions for those on trial. Other common responsibilities include establishing suspect profiles for law enforcement and submitting sentence length recommendations for those found guilty of crimes. According to PayScale, forensic psychologists make an average base salary of $73,180 per year.
- Mental Health Counselor
Mental health counselors work directly with patients struggling with psychological difficulties, diagnosing and treating a wide variety of mental health conditions and illnesses. While generally unable to prescribe medications, these professionals are authorized to provide curative counseling during one-on-one and group sessions. They often choose to specialize in one particular area of mental healthcare. According to PayScale, mental health counselors make an average base salary of $45,695 per year.
- Mental Health Technician
Mental health technicians often have many responsibilities related to patient care. They help with basic daily tasks such as bathing, grooming, and eating, as well as offering support during organized activities or therapy sessions. They also work to maintain a calm atmosphere while reporting any concerns and/or irregular occurrences to their superiors. Additionally, some facilities expect technicians to administer medications, answer phones, keep records, and perform janitorial services. According to PayScale, mental health technicians make an average base salary of $34,643 per year.
Psychometrists evaluate the cognitive, behavioral, academic, neuropsychological, and/or emotional status of individuals utilizing specialized testing and scoring methods. They are also responsible for carefully assessing and recording results, which may be used by other specialists when diagnosing and treating patients. In many cases, they are also expected to perform various clerical duties including, billing, coding, and procuring office supplies. According to PayScale, psychometrists make an average base salary of $48,358 per year.
- Sports Psychologist
Sports psychologists utilize their familiarity with challenges commonly related to athletic training and competition to offer advice and support to sports professionals such as athletes, coaches, and referees. Their primary responsibility is to help these individuals develop the skills needed to better manage the various mental and physical demands associated with working in the field. While every situation is different, this often entails providing assistance after an injury. Ultimately, they spend a lot of time helping athletes deal with the various consequences of being injured. According to PayScale, sports psychologists make an average base salary of $76,927 per year.
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- May 2021 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Kentucky. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Kentucky Board of Licensed Professional Counselors. Team Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet: Department of Professional Licensing