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What is a Child Counselor?

Child counseling is a specialized area within the field of mental health that addresses the distinct emotional and developmental needs of children. In North Carolina, individuals looking to pursue a career in child counseling can enroll in on-campus or online degree programs specifically designed to equip them with the skills required to support the well-being of children. Degree programs in this field prepare professionals to work with children in a variety of settings including schools, private practices, and healthcare facilities. They cover a wide array of techniques and theoretical approaches for effective child counseling and intervention.

To become a child counselor in North Carolina, it is essential to have a strong educational foundation, often starting with a bachelor's degree in a related field, followed by a master's degree with a concentration in child counseling. These programs provide in-depth knowledge about child development, counseling theories, assessment strategies, and the ethical issues pertaining to working with minors. Furthermore, the state requires child counselors to be licensed, a process that includes completing supervised clinical experience and passing a professional examination.

Child Counseling Programs in NC

In North Carolina, child counseling programs equip you with the necessary skills to support the mental health of children and adolescents. These degrees are designed to provide robust training in therapeutic techniques and child psychology.

Online Programs: Several colleges in North Carolina offer online degrees in counseling, allowing you to gain your qualification in a flexible format. These online programs maintain the same curricular requirements as their on-campus counterparts.

Benefits of Specializing in Child Counseling

  • Fulfilling Career: Specializing in child counseling allows you to make a marked impact on children's lives, fostering their development in a direction that may positively influence their futures.
  • Diverse Opportunities: With a degree in child counseling, your career could span various settings including schools, private practices, and community agencies, each offering unique benefits and experiences.
  • Continued Growth: The field of counseling, especially child counseling, expects growth, signaling strong potential for stable career opportunities after your graduation and licensure.

Online Educational Pathways for a Child Counseling Degree in North Carolina

Online Associate Degree in Counseling or Psychology (AS)

An associate degree in counseling or psychology could be your first step toward a career in child counseling. These programs can provide a foundational understanding of psychological principles and lay the groundwork for further study. They usually take around two years to complete and, while they will not prepare you to work as a counselor, they can prepare you for further education. However, you should note that the most common starting place for those who wish to become a counselor is a bachelor’s degree. This is because this degree is necessary to move into a master’s, which is needed for licensure in the field. The main reason to earn an associate degree is because you are uncertain of your interest in this field. An associate degree can help you decide if this field is right for you and where you would like to focus the rest of your education.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Child Counseling (BS)

To advance, you'll need a bachelor’s degree in child development, counseling, or psychology. There are few child counseling-focused degrees at this level, but you may be able to find one, or find a degree in counseling or psychology with a specialization in child development or behavior. These degrees typically involve comprehensive coursework in child development, ethics, and therapeutic techniques specific to children and adolescents.

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Online Master’s Degree in Child Counseling (MS)

A master’s degree in child counseling is crucial for licensure as a child counselor in North Carolina. Graduate programs, such as those offered by North Carolina A&T State University, can specialize in clinical or school counseling, preparing you for direct practice or educational settings. Specializations for graduate students at this level include a professional school counseling program, career counseling, individual or small group counseling, child psychology, crisis intervention, social development, etc.

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Online PhD in Child Counseling (PHD)

Pursuing a PhD in a child counseling program prepares students for positions at the top of your field, allowing you to contribute to scholarly research or take on senior clinical roles or roles in counselor education. These degrees require extensive research and clinical practice and can take up to around five years to complete. Note that this degree is not required for professional school counselors.

Read more about counseling resources and scholarships Read our financial aid and FAFSA guide

Online Child Counseling Certifications

Post-degree, child counseling certifications help you stay current with best practices and are often required for specialized counseling positions. These certifications ensure you meet the professional standards in North Carolina.

Potential Careers and Salaries for Graduates

After completing your degree in child counseling in North Carolina, a wealth of career paths with competitive salaries becomes available to you. Below is an overview of notable options and what you can expect regarding remuneration. Remember, these are just a few options covering a range of educational requirements, nearly all counseling positions require a master’s degree.

School Psychologists:

Job description: In North Carolina, school psychologists play a crucial role in assessing students' learning and emotional needs. Licensure typically requires a specialist-level degree after completing a master's degree in school psychology.


  • Doctoral Degree
  • Diagnose and implement individual or schoolwide interventions or strategies to address educational, behavioral, or developmental issues that adversely impact educational functioning in a school
  • Design classes and programs to meet the needs of special students
  • Compile and interpret students' test results, along with information from teachers and parents, to diagnose conditions and to help assess eligibility for special services
  • Interpret test results and prepare psychological reports for teachers, administrators, and parents

Median Salary: $91,990

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School and Family Social Workers:

Job description: As a school or family social worker, you will address the psychological and social well-being of students and their families. Your role might entail coordination with licensed professional counselors to provide comprehensive support services.


  • Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree, Growth Potential 7% (Faster than average)
  • Provide social services and assistance to improve the social and psychological functioning of children and their families and to maximize the family well-being and the academic functioning of children
  • Interview clients individually, in families, or in groups, assessing their situations, capabilities, and problems to determine what services are required to meet their needs
  • Counsel individuals, groups, families, or communities regarding issues including mental health, poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, physical abuse, rehabilitation, social adjustment, child care, or medical care
  • Counsel students whose behavior, school progress, or mental or physical impairment indicate a need for assistance, diagnosing students' problems and arranging for needed services

Median Salary: $59,190

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Substance Abuse Counselors:

Job description: Substance abuse counselors focus on helping clients overcome addiction; this may include adolescents who have become addicted to various substances.


  • Bachelor's or Master’s degree, Growth Potential 18% (Much faster than average)
  • Teach clients’ family members about addiction or behavior disorders and help them develop strategies to support clients in recovery
  • Refer clients to other resources and services, such as job placement services and support groups
  • Prepare clients for transition out of counseling through discharge planning
  • Conduct outreach programs to help people identify the signs of addiction and other destructive behavior, as well as steps to take to avoid such behavior

Median Salary: $60,080

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Special Education Teacher (Early Childhood):

Job description: As a special education teacher at the elementary level, you’ll have to have specialized training to know how to approach teaching the students in your care. This role may involve collaboration with licensed professional counselors to develop individualized education plans (IEPs) for students with special needs.


  • Bachelor's degree
  • Observe students to evaluate their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses
  • Administer standardized ability and achievement tests to kindergarten students with special needs
  • Attend professional meetings, educational conferences, or teacher training workshops to maintain or improve professional competence
  • Collaborate with other teachers or administrators to develop, evaluate, or revise kindergarten programs

Median Salary: $71,770

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements for obtaining a degree in child counseling in North Carolina?

To obtain a degree in child counseling in North Carolina, you must complete a program that meets the state's educational criteria, typically a master's degree in counseling from an accredited institution. This should include coursework in human development, ethics, legal issues, and targeted child counseling techniques.

Are there accredited online programs for child counseling degrees in North Carolina?

Yes, there are accredited online programs for child counseling degrees at various institutions in North Carolina, though they might focus solely on general counseling and require that you take some electives to focus your degree on children. Accreditation ensures that the program meets professional and educational standards recognized by the state for counseling practice.

How many years of study does it take to become a licensed school counselor in North Carolina?

It typically takes about two to three years of full-time study to complete a master's degree necessary to become a licensed school counselor in North Carolina, and four years to complete your undergraduate degree before that. This time frame may vary based on your program's structure and any prerequisite coursework that may be required, but you can assume you’ll need around six years of education to work in this field unless you focus on finding accelerated programs.

What steps are involved in becoming a certified guidance counselor in North Carolina?

To become a certified guidance counselor in North Carolina, you must earn a relevant master's degree from an accredited institution, complete a supervised practicum or internship experience, and pass the required state certification exams. Further, maintaining ongoing professional development and adhering to the state's ethical guidelines is required for certification renewal.

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