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What Can I Do With a Master’s in Counseling?

Job growth drives opportunities in clinical mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling, marriage therapy, and school counseling.

If helping others create better lives for themselves sounds like an attractive vocational path, perhaps you’d enjoy a career in counseling. Armed with an MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling or an MS in School Counseling, you’ll be ready to tackle a vast array of psychotherapy and treatment roles including mental health, school, substance abuse, marriage and family, and career counseling.

Counseling provides a wide variety of subfields, and employment of counselors is on the rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that from 2019 to 2029 jobs for mental health, substance abuse, and behavioral disorder counselors will grow by 25%.1 During that same timeframe, school and career counselors are projected to see job growth of 8% in their line of work, while marriage and family counselors should see job growth of 22% in their field.1 Further, according to the BLS, a master’s degree is typically required for entry-level jobs in several counseling areas including mental health, rehabilitation, genetic, and school counseling, and marriage and family therapy. Many, if not all, of these counseling areas also require an internship or practicum program in addition to state licensure.2

What Can I Do With a Master’s in Counseling?

What are some career options a master’s in counseling might offer?

Mental health counselor

With nearly 20% of all Americans grappling with mental health issues, there is a significant and ongoing need for clinical mental health counselors. Mental health counselors are equipped to guide and advise on anxiety, depression, grief, stress, self-esteem, trauma, addiction, suicidal thoughts, and other matters, and may practice in clinics or community health settings.4,5 A subset of mental health counselors known as licensed clinical mental health counselors must pass a state licensure or certification exam and complete two supervised years of clinical work following their clinical mental health master’s program.6

School counselor or guidance counselor

Working in primary and secondary school settings, school counselors, often called guidance counselors, advise students on social, behavioral, academic, and personal problems.6 In particular, they help students sort through daily stresses and plan for their vocational and educational futures. They also advise teachers and administration on issues of concern to students, such as bullying, drug abuse, or postsecondary education and careers.3 You should also be aware that Walden University offers an MS Dual Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling degree. Upon successful graduation, you will have earned two degrees from an accredited program and be able to pursue licensure or certification as both a mental health counselor and a school counselor.

Substance abuse counselor

Substance abuse counselors help individuals with substance abuse and addiction problems identify and address problematic behaviors and work toward recovery. These counselors work in one-on-one or group substance abuse counseling settings and help individuals work toward brighter futures by offering coping strategies and approaches for governing daily actions to prevent relapse.3,7

Marriage, couple, and family therapist

Marriage, couple, and family therapists provide counseling to couples (married or otherwise) and families and help them navigate through difficult familial issues like separation, divorce, layoffs, or career changes.3 These therapists provide strategies to face, manage, and resolve communication, emotional, and mental difficulties.7


Graduates of counseling master’s programs might also find a fulfilling career as a(n):

  • Academic counselor
  • Admissions counselor
  • Military and veterans counselor
  • Genetic counselor
  • Rehabilitation counselor
  • Gerontological or geriatric counselor

It is recommended that future counselors seek their degrees in the specific counseling subfield in which they’d like to work, such as a master’s program in clinical mental health counseling or a master’s in school counseling.

If you’re interested in how to become a counselor, Walden University, an accredited institution with flexible online education options, can help get you started. Walden offers online MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, MS in School Counseling, and an MS Dual Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling programs that can pave the way to a rewarding counseling career.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,