How to Become a Counselor in New York

Counseling Education Guide for New York

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What is Counseling?


When it comes to finding the right college or degree program, New Yorkers have plenty of choices. However, with so many institutions of higher education to choose from, it can be difficult to determine which one is the best fit for you. That’s where we come in. With so many options of counseling colleges and degree programs, it’s best to get an overview of what you need in terms of education or certifications and licensure before you decide on a program.

There are several different types of counseling degree programs. Bachelor's degree programs may be offered online and also include topics like psychology and sociology. Some counseling programs may include specializations in marriage, Christian counseling, offender rehabilitation, or victim advocacy. Master's degree programs are also available, and most counseling professionals must complete a master's degree in order to be licensed.


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Online Counseling Education in New York


The role of a counselor varies according to their field, but there are some common characteristics. Those who work in the field are responsible for helping people achieve their goals, unleashing lost creativity and productivity or helping them to rein in unwanted behaviors or uncontrolled emotions. They can help people find employment after a loss, maintain a healthy marriage, control a mental health issue, and end an addiction. They can assist people with a variety of problems of all kinds. These professionals also have training in psychological research and may have their findings published in scholarly journals.

Depending on their background, counselors can help people deal with their issues through a variety of techniques in counseling. There are no options to freelance in counseling, states regulate the requirements for licensure quite harshly and you can be found criminally liable for your actions if you claim you are a counselor without training and education. However, some counselors may work in private practice while others work for existing institutions, such as hospitals or schools. Those who work as counselors in facilities may work shifts or overtime depending on the needs of their patients. Some counselors work in school settings, assisting students with academic and personal problems and acting as mediators between students and teachers. The duties of a counselor differ widely depending on their field and where they find an open role.

Online Associate Degree in Counseling (AS)

Numerous reasons exist for pursuing an online associate degree in counseling. Counseling can be a very fulfilling profession, and this degree is an ideal entrance point into the subject of psychology, though you will not be able to gain full licensure without further education. Even so, this degree can assist you in achieving your goals, whether you wish to become a marriage and family therapist or work with children. In addition, you can continue your study at your own pace; you could move into a career after you complete this degree, or you could choose to immediately move into a bachelor’s degree program.

A counseling career will put you in high demand, and there are many job openings throughout the country. Mental health counselors provide therapeutic services to patients in private clinics, hospitals, and substance misuse treatment centers, among other environments. And, while on-campus degrees are popular, working professionals find online degrees particularly enticing. A program's admission criteria may include transcripts, test scores, and a personal essay or statement and an associate degree usually requires that you earn around 60 credit hours. There has never been a better time to pursue a career in counseling, since job openings for these experts are growing faster than the national average.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Counseling (BS)

Earning an online bachelor's degree in counseling will give you the skills and knowledge needed to work with people in a variety of settings. Counselors help people deal with stress, depression, loss of a loved one, and various mental health issues. They apply fundamental theories and methods of psychology to assess multiple variables in a person's life. A bachelor's degree in counseling will prepare you for graduate-level studies, which is needed for most counseling licenses, and may give you the ability to work as an addiction counselor.

Bachelor's in counseling programs offer a comprehensive curriculum and are often affordable for most students, especially if they are earned from public colleges. Some programs offer double majors or minors, internships, and practicums. You can also earn continuing education credits online through a variety of professional organizations, though these are likely to be unnecessary until you have earned full licensure as a counselor of some kind. Even so, obtaining a bachelor's degree in counseling can open doors in many areas. For example, you may be able to work in social service or community service management, fields that are expected to grow by 16% over the next few years.

Online Master’s Degree in Counseling (MA)

A master's degree in counseling is a graduate-level degree that prepares students for employment as licensed mental health counselors and in a huge variety of other counseling positions. Graduates who complete an accredited program will be eligible to sit for the appropriate licensing examination. The field is becoming more popular as more and more people seek help with mental health issues.

Those considering a graduate degree should ensure that they enroll in an accredited program. Non-accredited institutions cannot provide a degree that will be accepted by licensing bureaus. Some schools require their graduates to have a 3.0 GPA, but others are more lenient, especially if they already have counseling experience. Graduates of a master's program in counseling will be eligible for state licensure, assuming they have met all requirements, which is required to practice counseling in the state.

Online PhD in Counseling (PhD)

There are many different PhD in counseling college and degree programs to choose from. Some of these programs are traditional, while others are more flexible and focused on online education, allowing you to choose the program that is right for your schedule and personal goals. No matter which you choose, a doctorate in counseling can lead to a career in educational leadership or clinical practice, depending on your interests in the field.

A doctorate in counseling degree program can help you boost your career in this growing field. Those with PhDs can earn more, become tenured at educational facilities, and more. These programs teach professional counselors to educate, advocate for, and lead. Graduates of these programs can work in a variety of settings including non-profits, schools, and clinics; and they can work as leaders in all of these settings. Most of these programs allow for distance learning, though some may also require some component of in-person residency.

Online Counseling Certifications

There are many different types of counseling certificates available. Which one is right for you depends on a number of factors, including whether or not you're seeking full licensure as a professional counselor. Typically, online certificates consist of five or six courses that will increase your communication and analytical skills. Most programs follow a similar format to a master's program, but don't require a thesis. However, be sure to research your in-person or online program thoroughly before you enroll.

One of the greatest advantages of online certification and degree programs is the job growth they provide. As the population grows and society becomes more aware of the mental health problems that affect people, more counseling positions are opening up. Unfortunately, the number of qualified counselors that are needed is growing faster than the number of people with degrees or licenses. But this increase in demand often means higher salaries for counseling professionals. You can earn a degree or certification from accredited colleges or universities online, and you can begin working as soon as you graduate.

Become a Counselor in New York


If you are looking to become a counselor professional in New York, there are a few things you will need to do in order to make that happen. The following steps will provide an overview of what is involved in the process:

  • Step 1: Earn a degree in counseling or psychology

    A degree in counseling or psychology is the key to a successful and fulfilling career in this field. Both degrees offer a wide range of opportunities in many different settings, and if you earn a bachelor’s in psychology, you can earn a master’s in counseling – or vice versa. Outside of that, a degree in counseling can prepare you for work with individuals, families, and groups in a variety of settings such as mental health clinics, hospitals, schools, and private practice. A degree in psychology can prepare you for work in research, teaching, or clinical settings.

  • Step 2: Complete a supervised internship

    Counseling interns are required to complete a supervised internship as part of their degree program. This provides them with the opportunity to gain experience working with clients in a clinical setting. Interns can expect to develop their counseling skills by working with a variety of clients under the supervision of a licensed counselor. The internship also allows interns to explore different areas of counseling so that they can find the right career path.

  • Step 3: Pass a licensing exam

    A counseling license is required to practice as a counselor in every state. The exam prospective counselors take are designed to test the knowledge and skills of counselors. In order to become a licensed counselor in the United States, one must pass a licensing exam. The National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) is a 200-question multiple choice test that covers eight content areas: Professional Orientation and Ethics, Helping Relationship, Human Growth and Development, Group Work, Career and Lifestyle Development, Assessment and Diagnosis, Program Planning and Intervention, and Supervision.

  • Step 4: Get specialized training

    Counseling is a vital part of mental health care, and it’s important to get specialized training if you want to be a counselor. This is because counseling is more than just listening to people talk; it’s a complex process that involves helping people work through their problems. Counselors need to be able to assess their clients’ needs and provide the right type of support. They also need to be able to manage their own emotions and deal with difficult situations.

What Can I Do with a Bachelor's in Counseling?


A bachelor's degree in counseling can lead to a career as a professional counselor working in mental health clinics, schools, hospitals, or private practice. Counselors help people deal with problems in their lives by providing support and guidance. They may work with individuals, families, or groups. A bachelor's degree in counseling is also the first step toward becoming a licensed counselor.

Potential Careers for Counseling Graduates


  • Career Counselor:

    A career counselor is responsible for providing guidance and support to students as they navigate their career paths. They will help students assess their skills and interests, identify potential career options, and develop action plans to achieve their goals. A career counselor will also provide resources and support to students as they search for internships and jobs, apply to graduate school, and navigate other career-related transitions.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Master’s degree in counseling, education, or a related field
    • 2+ years of experience working in career counseling or a related field

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for school and career counselors and advisors in the US in 2021 was $60,510.
    • The mean annual wage for educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors in New York is $59,680.
  • Substance Abuse/Addiction Counselor:

    A substance abuse or addiction counselor provides counseling and support to individuals struggling with addiction. They work with clients to identify the root cause of their addiction and develop a plan to overcome it. They also provides guidance on how to manage triggers and cravings, and how to build a support system.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Bachelor's degree in psychology, social work, or a related field
    • 2+ years of experience working with clients struggling with addiction
    • Knowledge of the 12-step program

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in the US in 2021 was $48,520
    • The mean annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in New York is $60,720
  • Counselor (Private Practice):

    A counselor of this kind will provide professional counseling services to clients in a private practice setting. Services may include individual, family, or group counseling.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Master’s degree in counseling or related field
    • Licensed as a counselor in the state of practice
    • Experience providing counseling services in a private practice setting

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in the US in 2021 was $48,520. Rehabilitation counselors earned $38,560
    • The mean annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in New York is $60,720; rehabilitation counselors earn $41,690
  • Community Health Worker:

    A community health worker will be responsible for promoting health and wellness within a community. They will provide education on health topics, connect individuals and families to resources, and advocate for improved access to healthcare.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • High school diploma or equivalent
    • Completion of a community health worker training program
    • Certification as a community health worker (if required by state)

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for community health workers in the US in 2021 was $47,780; Social and Community Service Managers earned $74,000
    • The mean annual wage for community health workers in New York is $55,900; Social and Community Service Managers earn $67,480
  • Residential Counselor:

    A residential counselor provides direct care and guidance to residents in a group home setting. They may plan treatments and ensure that plans are followed, as well as creating an environment that is conducive to healing.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • High school diploma or equivalent
    • Previous experience working with youth
    • CPR certification

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in the US in 2021 was $48,520. Rehabilitation counselors earned $38,560. The median annual wage for residential advisors in the US in 2019 was $29,450
    • The mean annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in New York is $60,720; rehabilitation counselors earn $41,690. The mean annual wage for residential advisors in New York is $31,130
  • Clinical Therapist:

    A clinical therapist is responsible for providing therapy and counseling services to patients. They will work with patients to help them overcome their challenges and improve their lives.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Must be a licensed Clinical Therapist
    • Must have experience in providing therapy and counseling services

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in the US in 2021 was $48,520. Clinical and counseling psychologists earned $82,510
    • The mean annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in New York is $56,050. Clinical and counseling psychologists earn $110,410
  • Social Worker:

    A social worker will be responsible for providing support and assistance to individuals and families who are dealing with social, emotional, and/or financial difficulties. They will work with clients to help them overcome these challenges and improve their lives.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • A bachelor’s degree in social work or a related field
    • A valid social work license in the state in which you practice
    • Strong communication and interpersonal skills

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for social workers in the US in 2021 was $50,390; child, family, and school social workers earned $49,150, healthcare social workers earned $60,840, and mental health and substance abuse social workers earned $49,130
    • The mean annual wage for social workers (all others) in New York is $61,000; child, family, and school social workers earned $46,870, healthcare social workers earned $60,320, and mental health and substance abuse social workers earned $52,810
  • College Counselor:

    A college counselor will be responsible for providing guidance and counseling services to college students. They will help students choose the right courses, plan their schedules, and provide academic and career advice. A college counselor will also assist students in applying for financial aid and scholarships.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Master’s degree in counseling or a related field
    • Experience working with college students
    • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for school and career counselors and advisors in the US in 2021 was $60,510
    • The mean annual wage for educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors in New York is $59,680
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