How to Become a Counselor in Virginia

Counseling Education Guide for Virginia

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What is Counseling?


If you are interested in becoming a counselor, there are many online colleges and degree programs in Virginia to choose from. Counseling is a helping profession that requires both theoretical knowledge and clinical skills. A counseling degree can prepare you for a rewarding career in which you help people overcome challenges and improve their lives.

There are many different types of counselors including mental health counselors, substance abuse counselors, marriage and family counselors, and school counselors. And counselors work in a variety of settings such as private practices, hospitals, schools, and community organizations.

A counseling professional is someone who helps people deal with their problems. They may be trained in psychology or another field, but they must have a good understanding of human behavior and be able to communicate effectively with their clients. Counseling professionals can work in private practice or in hospitals, schools, or other settings.


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Online Counseling Education in Virginia


When choosing a counseling college or degree program, it’s important to consider your goals and interests. There are many accredited programs available that offer specialization in different areas of counseling. For example, if you are interested in working with children and families, you may want to choose a program that offers courses in child development and family therapy. If you're not sure what kind of counseling you want to do, or if you want to explore different types of counseling, Virginia is still a great place to start your education. You can find programs that offer a general overview of counseling as well as more specialized programs.

Counseling professionals usually have a master’s degree in counseling or a related field, such as psychology. In addition to completing coursework, they must also complete a supervised internship and pass a licensing exam. Counseling professionals are required to complete continuing education credits to maintain their licenses. These professionals help people with a wide range of issues including relationship problems, anxiety, depression, grief, and substance abuse. They may use different techniques depending on the needs of their clients and their own specialties.

Online Associate Degree in Counseling (AS)

A counseling professional is someone who helps people deal with their problems. They may be trained in psychology or another field, but they must have a good

understanding of human behavior and be able to communicate effectively with their clients.

Unfortunately, because of the level of education required for licensure, counselors cannot begin working in the field with an associate degree, except in the case of substance abuse counselors who can work with lower degree levels in many states. However, an associate degree is a great way to start your education in the field. By earning this lower-level degree, you can decide if counseling is right for you and earn credit hours that you can transfer into a bachelor’s degree while spending less on each credit overall. You will have to make sure that the school you attend is accredited or has a transfer agreement with a four-year institution in order to expedite your credit’s transferring.

Online Bachelors Degree in Counseling (BS)

For most of those interested in a career in counseling, an online bachelor’s degree in counseling is the first logical step. You will need to earn a bachelor’s in order to gain access to a master’s degree in counseling, and you can start with a bachelor’s in psychology, counseling, or another (acceptable) related field. Counseling colleges offer programs that provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to become successful counselors no matter what they choose to specialize in later on.

Most counseling programs require students to complete coursework in psychology, sociology, and human development. In addition, students must complete a practicum or internship in order to gain hands-on experience working with clients.

Online Masters Degree in Entrepreneurship (MA)

A master’s degree in counseling can lead to a career as a professional counselor in a variety of settings including schools, hospitals, private practices, and community mental health centers. Counselors work with individuals, families, and groups to help them cope with life issues and make positive changes or to help them live with chronic mental illness.

Most counseling programs require students to complete a practicum or internship, as well as a research project or thesis. Coursework typically includes classes in human development, psychopathology, assessment and diagnosis, and counseling theories and techniques. Students may also learn about multicultural counseling, crisis intervention, and substance abuse.

Upon graduation, counselors must obtain licensure in order to practice. Although licensure requirements vary by state, most states require counselors to pass a national exam. Once licensed, counselors can work in a variety of settings including private practices, hospitals, schools, and community mental health centers.

Online PhD Degree in Counseling (PhD)

There are many reasons why someone might pursue a PhD in counseling. Maybe they want to gain specialization as counselors themselves or to teach at the collegiate level. Whatever the reason, a PhD in counseling is a great way to improve your career prospects and earn a higher salary.

A PhD in this field generally takes around four to six years to complete, and it requires both coursework and research. During your studies, you'll cover topics like human development, psychopathology, research methods, and counseling theories. You'll also need to complete a dissertation, which is a lengthy research paper on a topic of your choice.

Once you've earned your PhD in counseling, you'll be qualified for many different types of jobs. You could work as a private practice counselor or provide counseling services within schools or hospitals. You could also choose to teach at the collegiate level or pursue research opportunities.

Online Counseling Certifications

There are many professional counseling certifications available through universities and professional organizations. Some common certifications include the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), the American Counseling Association (ACA), and the National Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC).

Earning a certification demonstrates to potential employers that you have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform your job well. It can also lead to higher salaries and career advancement opportunities.

To be eligible for most counseling certifications, you must have a master's degree in counseling from an accredited university. You will also need to pass an exam and meet other requirements set by the certification organization. If you are interested in becoming a certified counselor, research the different options to find the best fit for you.

Become a Counselor in Virginia


In order to become a professional counselor in the state of Virginia, one must first complete a few necessary steps.

  • Step 1: Complete an accredited college or university program in counseling

    An accredited college or university program in counseling can provide you with the education and training necessary to pursue a career as a counselor. Counselors work with individuals, families, and groups to help them cope with life changes, overcome challenges, and achieve their goals. Counseling programs at accredited colleges and universities typically include coursework in psychology, human development, and counseling theories and techniques. Programs may also require practicum or internship experiences.

  • Step 2: Complete an internship or practicum

    An internship or practicum is an excellent way to gain experience in the counseling field and it is nearly always a requirement that those who wish to work as counselors must gain experience working under licensed supervisors. These opportunities allow students to work with clients under the supervision of a licensed counselor. Internships and practicums can be completed at mental health centers, hospitals, community agencies, or private practices.

  • Step 3: Pass the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification

    The National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) is a national examination administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). The NCE is required for licensure as a professional counselor in many states. To be eligible to take the NCE, candidates must have completed a master’s degree or doctoral degree in counseling from a regionally accredited institution, as well as a minimum of 100 practicum hours and 600 internship hours.

  • Step 4: Join a professional organization

    As a counseling professional, it’s important to be a part of a professional organization in order to network with other professionals and stay up to date on the latest news and information in the field. There are many different organizations to choose from, so it’s important to find one that fits your specific interests and needs.

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


A bachelor's degree in counseling can open up many opportunities in the field of mental health. Counselors work with individuals, families, and groups to assess needs and provide guidance and support. They may also work in private practices, hospitals, schools, or other settings. However, it’s important to note that most licensed counselors are required to have at least a master’s degree in their field.

With a bachelor's degree in counseling, you can pursue a career as a social worker or in another similar helping profession. Or you can find a career outside of counseling if you choose not to earn a master’s degree. There are many places where a knowledge of human behavior and statistics can be helpful, including human resources and marketing. You can also continue your education and earn a master's or doctoral degree in counseling or a related field. With advanced training, you may specialize in areas such as substance abuse counseling, marriage and family therapy, or child and adolescent counseling.

Potential Careers for Counseling Graduates


  • Substance Abuse/Addiction Counselor:

    A substance abuse or addiction counselor is responsible for providing counseling and support to individuals struggling with addiction. They will work with clients to develop treatment plans, offer guidance and support, and provide referrals to resources as needed. They will also maintain communication with clients' families and other support systems to ensure the best possible outcome for the client.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Master's degree in counseling or a related field
    • Licensed as a Substance Abuse Counselor (SAC) or Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) in Illinois
    • 2 years of experience working with individuals struggling with addiction

    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 Virginia is $53,210
  • Residential Counselor:

    A residential counselor will provide guidance to residents in a group home setting. They will help residents with daily living skills and facilitate activities..

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology, or a related field
    • Experience working with individuals with mental illness or developmental disabilities

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for rehabilitation counselors in the US in 2021 was $38,560 and substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earned $48,520
    • The mean annual wage for rehabilitation counselors in Virginia is $44,920 and substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earn $53,210
  • Clinical Therapist:

    A clinical therapist is responsible for providing individual and group therapy to patients with mental health disorders. They will work with patients to help them understand their disorder and develop coping mechanisms to deal with their symptoms. A clinical therapist will also work with the patient's family to support them and provide education about the disorder.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Master's Degree in Social Work, Psychology, or Counseling
    • Experience working with mental health disorders
    • LICSW or LMHC required

    Estimated Salary

    • The mean annual wage for clinical and counseling psychologists in the US in 2021 was $99,640
    • The mean annual wage for clinical and counseling psychologists in Virginia is $108,910
  • Social Worker:

    A social worker will provide support to clients who are experiencing social, economic, and emotional difficulties. They will collaborate with other professionals to create treatment plans and connect clients with resources. Social workers will advocate for their clients and work to promote social justice.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • A bachelor’s degree in social work
    • A state-issued license
    • Strong communication and interpersonal skills

    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 Virginia is $58,100. Mental health and substance abuse social workers earn $54,160
  • Group Counselor:

    A group counselor is responsible for providing counseling and support to groups of people. They may work with groups of all sizes and ages, and their duties may vary depending on the needs of the group.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • A master's degree in counseling or a related field
    • Experience working with groups
    • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
    • Ability to build rapport with group members
    • Patience and flexibility

    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 Virginia is $53,210
  • Psychologist:

    A psychologist is a professional who studies the human mind and behavior. Psychologists may work in a variety of settings including hospitals, clinics, schools, and private practices. They may also conduct research on human behavior.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • A doctorate degree in psychology
    • A state license to practice psychology
    • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for psychologists in the US in 2021 was $81,040
    • The mean annual wage for psychologists, All Other in Virginia is $104,670. Industrial-organizational psychologists earn $108,700 and clinical and counseling psychologists earn $108,910.
  • Child Counselor:

    A child counselor is responsible for providing guidance and support to children who are experiencing emotional or behavioral difficulties. They will work with children individually and in groups to help them cope with their problems and develop healthy coping mechanisms. A child counselor will also work closely with the child's parents or guardians to provide support and guidance.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • A bachelor's degree in psychology, social work, or a related field
    • Experience working with children
    • 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 Virginia is $69,990
  • School Counselor:

    A school counselor is responsible for providing academic, college, and career counseling to students. They collaborate with teachers, parents, and administrators to create a supportive environment for all students.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Master’s degree in Counseling or a related field
    • State license in Counseling
    • 2 years of experience working as a school counselor

    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 Virginia is $69,990

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