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How do You Become a Full-Fledged Professional in Counseling?

Updated on July 10, 2015

I heard this question poised on some Internet video: How do you become a full-fledged professional in counseling? That's a good question, considering what a growth field the counseling industry has become.

Counseling or Coaching – The Ultimate Win/Win Career

These are both fields that offer personal and professional rewards. You get to help yourself while also helping others. You get to help others succeed while you also succeed. What could be a better career than that? You really should be asking the question – How do you become a full-fledged professional counselor?

There are also many options to choose from in the counseling industry. You can work as a therapist, a health care professional. Or you can move into the coaching industry. You can also pursue a niche within any of the larger coaching or counseling categories. You want to counsel single moms? You want to be a health counselor who works with cancer patients? If there is a large enough market for your niche, you can make it your career.

So, if it's such a great career – how do you become a full-fledged professional in counseling?

How do You Become a Full-Fledged Professional in Counseling?

It all starts with training. You need to be educated in the right programs. Most individuals who want to enter counseling pursue degrees in psychiatry, sociology, psychology, or counseling. To have a rewarding career in counseling, you most likely need to obtain a master’s degree. It is also smart to continue your education and earn a Ph.D if you want to become a full-fledged professional in counseling.

Once your education is complete, you should research licensing requirements in your state. Every state is different, though most have fairly similar requirements. You basically need the right degree, some professional on the job experience (volunteer or paid), and a passing grade on the state’s licensing exam.

Coaches can hang out a sign, open an office, and be the greatest coach in the world (though it’s better if you get a certification). Counselors can’t do that – they must meet the requirements before they can open a counseling practice.

How do you become a full-fledged professional in counseling? The keys are education, experience, and licensing.

What do Professional Counselors Do?

Counselors work in many different areas – they can work for schools, non-profit organizations, counseling centers, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and other treatment facilities. They can work with individuals or groups. Counselors usually work differently than coaches as they often work with problems – coaches often work will people who are well, but want to do better. However, their jobs are similar in that they both actively listen, provide feedback, and work out plans to help their clients achieve specific goals.


Professional counselors help to empower individuals, families, or groups o become the best they can be. They help them beat addiction, overcome mental health issues, face new personal and professional challenges, and work to achieve their goals and dreams. How do you become a full-fledged professional in counseling? With plenty of patience, hard work, and education – that’s how!

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