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Key Differences Between Counseling and Psychology Degrees

The two sound similar, but understanding what distinguishes them will help you choose the best education for the career you desire.

Psychology and counseling have much in common, but when you look closer, you’ll discover major differences that can affect your choice of career paths and degree programs. Understanding the differences can help you confidently choose between an online psychology degree program and an online counseling degree program.

Psychology and Counseling Share Common Ground

The fields of psychology and counseling, along with their respective degree programs, both stem from a foundational knowledge and understanding of human behavior. That knowledge is based on researching psychological theories and applying the latest scientific findings to current, relevant issues in order to help individuals, families, and groups overcome obstacles.

Key Differences Between Counseling and Psychology Degrees

What Can I Do With a Psychology Degree?

A degree in psychology can open doors to diverse careers in a variety of settings, including:

  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Law enforcement
  • Social service agencies
  • Business and industry
  • Religious and other nonprofit organizations

From clinical psychology and law enforcement to education and victims’ advocacy, earning an online psychology degree at the bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral level can help prepare you for a wide variety of challenging, exciting opportunities.*

What Can I Do With a Counseling Degree?

Online master’s and doctoral counseling degrees help advance your knowledge and skills while preparing you for a higher-level position as an influential change agent in counseling. Specialized master’s degrees in counseling can assist you in pursuing your interest to help people:

  • Manage addictions and help support individuals and families on the journey to recovery.
  • Cope with daily life and overcome challenges that arise from mental health concerns.
  • Achieve academic goals as students and effectively handle the multifaceted challenges of today’s educational environment.
  • Resolve marriage and family conflicts related to divorce, mediation, child rearing, school issues, and family violence.

Job Growth for Psychology Careers

The projected job growth for psychologists is 14%, from 2016 to 2026, with a median annual wage of $77,030 in May 2017. Opportunities should be greatest for psychologists with doctoral degrees in an applied specialty, as well as for those with a specialist or doctoral degree in school psychology.1

As an example, median annual salaries for these psychology careers in May 2017 were:

  • $75,090 for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists
  • $87,100 for industrial-organizational psychologists
  • $97,740 for psychologists (all other)

Job Growth for Counseling Careers

Projections for job growth range from 13% for school and career counselors ($55,410 median annual wage)2 to 23% for marriage and family therapists ($48,790 median annual wage)3 to 23% for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors ($43,300 median annual wage).4

Explore Walden University's online psychology and counseling degrees to launch, advance, or change the direction of your career. Earn your graduate degree in a convenient online format that fits your busy life.

*Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of a degree program.