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What is Counseling?

There are several ways to enter the counseling profession. A bachelor's degree in counseling opens the door to a variety of entry-level jobs as a psychological technician or a front desk assistant in a psychologists office or in a number of other fields, but most counselors will require at least a master’s degree to earn licensure. During a degree program, students also often complete internships to gain hands-on experience. They’ll also study ethics, multicultural issues, abnormal psychology, human development, and behavioral science research methods, among other things. Undergraduate counseling programs typically follow the same admissions criteria as other bachelor's degree programs. To apply, you will need a high school diploma or GED, SAT or ACT scores, and perhaps a letter of recommendation or an essay.

South Carolina is home to a wide variety of colleges and universities that offer students a range of counseling degree programs. From small, private schools to large, public universities - there are many options for students who want to pursue a career in counseling. In addition to traditional four-year colleges, students can also find programs at community colleges.

The variety of counseling degree programs available in South Carolina means that students can find a program that fits their needs and interests. There are programs in clinical mental health counseling, school counseling, and marriage and family therapy, among others. And you can choose to pursue many of the degree options in the state through online or hybrid learning.

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Online Counselor Education in South Carolina

The term “counselor” can be used in a variety of ways. Most often we think of it as someone who we go and talk to in a small, private office, where we pour out our feelings and receive advice. In reality, there are many roles that counselors play, in small offices, group therapy settings, in hospitals and in-patient centers, as well as in out-patient facilities. No matter where they see their patients, counselors aim to provide mental health assistance to every single one.

A counselor is someone who has been trained to help people deal with their problems. They may work with people who are struggling with mental health issues, or they may work with people who are going through a difficult time and need someone to talk to. Counselors can provide support and guidance and they can help people find solutions to their problems.

In many cases, a counselor's job is to help a person overcome emotional and psychological problems. These individuals can help a person find their full potential and reclaim lost creativity, productivity, or joy. They can also help people overcome self-defeating behavior or find ways to cope with existing mental illness. Counselors are also essential for those with behavioral and self-harm problems. They are also an essential part of a successful recovery from addiction. While we call all these professionals counselors, they may have titles like addiction therapist, behavioral therapist, marriage and family counselor, etc.

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Online Associate Degree in Counseling (AS)

In addition to core curriculum coursework, associate degree programs in counseling often include electives that focus on specific mental health areas. Students at this level are expected to complete around 60 credit hours and may have to take extracurricular courses or participate in volunteer opportunities during their program. While this may seem like an endless list of requirements for an associate degree, it’s a great way to make sure that the college or university you choose is a good fit for your goals.

Earning an associate degree in counseling can be a rewarding and satisfying decision for your ultimate career path. In just two years, you can obtain the basic education and training needed to get an entry-level job in the field. You will learn about the psychology of human development, including the history or psychology and the development of the human mind from childhood through adulthood. Applied courses include behavioral patterns and personal interactions.

Best of all is that these courses may be completed online and can also be transferred to a bachelor’s degree. While an associate degree won’t provide you with access to many full careers within psychology or counseling, it can save you money and allow you to transfer the credits you earn on to your next degree. If this is your plan, then you’ll want to make sure that you attend a school that has a transfer agreement with a four-year institution, or that you at least attend an accredited school. An unaccredited school will not be able to transfer any credits you earn, and it will ultimately be a waste.

Online Bachelors Degree in Counseling (BS)

Earning a bachelor's degree in counseling prepares online students to start working in entry-level positions and also to enter graduate-level programs in this field. These courses teach students the fundamentals of counseling and prepare them for the reality of a professional career in the field. A graduate degree is required for most counseling licenses, but graduate programs in this field require that applicants already have an undergraduate degree in psychology, counseling, social work, or a related field. Many bachelor's degree in counseling programs are also offered online, making them accessible to those who have little or no time for traditional, classroom-based classes.

No matter how you choose to earn your degree, you will likely need to complete around 120 credit hours, which usually takes students four years is they attend full-time and do not opt for an accelerated program. If you have already completed an associate degree and are able to transfer some or all credits from that program, then you could start your bachelor’s as a sophomore or a junior, saving you money in the long run.

Before deciding which bachelor's degree in counseling colleges and degree programs to apply to, prospective students may want to make a list of criteria first. The factors you could consider include the length of the program, the cost, and the accreditation of the school. Some programs require internships and other out-of-class demands that do not appeal to many students or might not be possible if you are attending online. However, there are many programs available and, chances are good that one of them will have everything you need.

Online Masters Degree in Counseling (MA, MS or MC)

Before you begin the application process for a master's degree in counseling, you should review your educational background. Many programs require at least a bachelor's degree in counseling, although most graduate counseling programs will accept applicants with degrees in related fields, such as psychology or social work. Other programs may require GRE scores, a resume, or other credentials. When choosing a master's program, accreditation should be one of your first considerations. The U.S. Department of Education supports accreditation of colleges and universities, which consists of a comprehensive review of the educational programs and services offered by the school.

The length of master's programs in counseling varies. Some programs are meant to be terminal degrees and focus on state licensure, while others are research-oriented and aim to prepare students for doctoral study. No matter which you choose, master's programs in counseling generally take two years to complete. You can find accelerated online programs or traditional on-campus programs, but be aware that these programs may not always meet state licensing requirements.

Online PhD Degree in Counseling (PhD)

PhD counseling programs are designed to prepare students for licensure at the highest levels and offer advanced study in the field. The coursework may be heavily research-based or client-centered. In either case, students will study how psychology works in everyday life and the theoretical basis for various counseling practices, as well as an understanding of how to research counseling practices in the real world. The dissertation is a major part of the PhD and many programs require students to complete a portion of it on campus or in a residency.

A PhD in counseling program can be very specific and focused on a particular topic or it can cover a broad range of subjects, from psychoanalytic theory to empirical research. In a PhD in counseling program, students can study subjects such as neuroscience, personality assessment, and school psychology. They may also learn how to counsel children, adolescents, and teachers, and gain valuable skills in the process.

Online Counseling Certifications

There are many different counseling certifications available to those who want to help others. The most common certifications in South Carolina are the Licensed Professional Counselor Associate (LPCA) certification and the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) certification. Licensure in South Carolina comes from the South Carolina Board of Examiners for Licensure of Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, Addiction Counselors, and Psycho-Educational Specialists. With this licensure, counselors in SC can provide all kinds of type of counseling, though they are required to have a master's degree in counseling, a minimum of 2,000 hours of supervised experience, and to pass an exam.

Other popular certifications include the National Certified Counselor (NCC) certification, which is offered through the National Board for Certified Counselors and requires a master's degree in counseling, 3,000 hours of supervised experience, and passing an exam. The Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CMHC) certification is offered through the American Mental Health Counselors Association and requires a master's degree in counseling, 3,000 hours of supervised experience, and passing an exam.

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While licensure is absolutely necessary, counseling certifications can also be important for many reasons. They can help counselors learn new techniques, gain recognition for their work, and connect with other professionals in the field. The different types of counseling certifications can provide a framework for the counselor's work and help to ensure that clients are getting the best possible care.

Become a Counselor in South Carolina

The counseling profession is a growing industry that offers many opportunities for professionals who are passionate about helping others. If you are interested in becoming a counselor in South Carolina, there are a few steps that you need to take in order to make your dream a reality.

  • Step 1: Get a bachelor’s degree in psychology or counseling

    Most counseling positions require at least a master’s degree in psychology or another related field. However, before you can earn a master’s, you must earn the correct bachelor’s degree in order to gain access to a graduate education in counseling. This means earning a bachelor’s degree in counseling, psychology, social work, or another pertinent field. You could even work as a substance abuse counselor with just a bachelor’s degree. However, if you want to specialize in a different area of counseling, you’re going to need to earn a graduate degree.

  • Step 2: Complete a graduate degree and earn your license

    Once you have completed an accredited bachelor’s program, it’s time to earn a master’s. You will need to do this in order to become licensed as a counselor in your state. Graduate degrees require around two years of work, but this level of degree will also let you specialize in the kind of counseling that interests you, whether that is addictions counseling, marriage and family counseling, child counseling, school counseling, or another field.

  • Step 3: Become certified or licensed in your state

    Counselors are in high demand and, with the right training, you could be the perfect candidate to fill a counseling position. Each state has different requirements for becoming a counselor, so it’s important to know what is needed in your area. Most states require that you be licensed in order to work as a counselor, and South Carolina is no different. The licensure process includes completing an accredited counseling program and passing an examination. You must also gain experience under a licensed supervisor before you can begin your own private practice. In South Carolina, you’ll earn the LPCA license before completing your real-world experience, and then you’ll earn the LPC license after you spend time working.

  • Step 4: Keep up with the latest trends and research in the counseling profession

    If you are looking for a career that is both meaningful and challenging, becoming a certified or licensed counselor in your state may be the perfect choice for you. Counselors provide support and guidance to people who are struggling with various personal issues, and the demand for qualified counselors is high. To become a counselor, you will need to obtain a degree in counseling from an accredited school and then complete the necessary certification or licensing requirements in your state.

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

There are a number of different career paths that are available for those who have earned a bachelor's degree in counseling. A bachelor’s will not get you as far in the field of counseling as it will in the field of business, but you could still work as a substance abuse counselor or find an entry-level job that will allow you to work in the field and see how counseling facilities or private practices work behind the scenes. However, if you can’t find a position in counseling with your bachelor’s degree, then you could always find another role to gain work experience while you complete your master’s degree. Knowing about human behavior could make you the perfect candidate for some HR roles, or you could work as an entry-level accounting clerk. Many jobs just want workers that have bachelor’s degrees, no matter what those degrees were focused on. So don’t worry if you don’t instantly find the perfect position in counseling with your bachelor’s degree, there will be a good position for you out there.

Potential Careers for Counseling Graduates

  • School Counselor:

    School counselors work with students, parents, and teachers to identify academic, personal, and social issues that may be affecting students’ success in school. They develop and implement programs to address these issues, and work with individual students to help them overcome challenges.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • A master’s degree in counseling or a related field
    • A state-issued counseling license or certification
    • experience working with children and adolescents

    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 South Carolina is $54,550
  • Mental Health Counselor:

    A mental health counselor is responsible for providing counseling and therapy to patients with mental health disorders.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • A master's degree in counseling, psychology, or a related field
    • A license to practice counseling in the state where the job is located
    • Experience working with patients with mental health disorders

    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 South Carolina is $44,250
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  • Marriage and Family Counselor:

    A marriage and family counselor is responsible for helping couples and families resolve their differences and improve their relationships. They will work with clients to identify and understand the root of their problems, and help them develop communication and conflict-resolution skills. This counselor may also provide guidance on how to strengthen the bond between family members.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • A master’s degree in counseling or a related field
    • A minimum of two years of experience working with couples and families
    • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
    • The ability to build rapport with clients quickly

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for marriage and family therapists in the US in 2021 was $49,880
    • The mean annual wage for marriage and family therapists in South Carolina is $56,480
  • Child Counselor:

    A child counselor will provide support to children who are experiencing emotional or behavioral difficulties. They will work with children individually and in groups to help them understand and cope with their problems. This counselor will also work with parents and other professionals to develop treatment plans and goals for the children.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Master’s degree in counseling, social work, or a related field
    • Experience working with children and families
    • Knowledge of child development and psychopathology
    • Excellent communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for school and career counselors and advisors in the US in 2021 was $60,510 and substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earned $48,520. Counselors (all others) earned $45,160
    • The mean annual wage for educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors in South Carolina is $54,550 and substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earn $44,250. Counselors (all others) earn $31,020
  • Psychiatrist:

    A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions. They use a variety of techniques to help people improve their mental health and wellbeing and are the only psychology professional who can prescribe medicines.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Must be a licensed medical doctor
    • Completion of residency training in psychiatry
    • Board certification in psychiatry

    Estimated Salary

    • The mean annual wage for psychiatrists in the US in 2021 was $249,760
    • The mean annual wage for psychiatrists in South Carolina is $210,340
  • Social Worker:

    A social worker will provide direct care and support to clients in order to help them overcome social, emotional, and economic challenges. They will also work with families and community members to promote social and economic justice.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Master's degree in Social Work
    • Licensed Social Worker in good standing
    • 2 years of experience working with vulnerable populations

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for social workers in the US in 2021 was $50,390
    • The mean annual wage for child, family, and school social workers in South Carolina is $45,710 and healthcare social workers earn $56,870. Mental health and substance abuse social workers earn $42,900
  • Clinical Therapist:

    A clinical therapist is responsible for providing individual and group therapy to patients with mental illness. They will work with the patient to develop a treatment plan and goal-oriented approach to therapy. This therapist will also provide support to the patient's family and significant others.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Master's Degree in Social Work, Psychology, or related field
    • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), or Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)
    • At least 2 years of experience in clinical therapy

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for clinical counseling psychologists in the US in 2021 was $82,510
    • The mean annual wage for clinical counseling psychologists in South Carolina is $84,760

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