Are you good at diffusing arguments? Do friends and family always come to you to solve their interpersonal problems? You can take these skills and apply them to a future in counseling if you plan ahead and do it right. Here are five ways to get ahead of the curve when you want to become a counselor.
1. Get Your Master’s Degree
For those who have already obtained a related BA/BS, the degree probably only taught the broad strokes of social work and human psychology. A graduate program will allow you to explore these subjects in depth. For example, Wake Forest University’s masters in counseling will prepare you for a career in everything from community development to educational therapy.
2. Get Certified
Each state has its own licensing requirements, but you’ll probably wind up taking the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) in order to qualify as a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). Not only will it prove your competency in the field, but having these initialisms on your resume will also make it much easier to find a job.
3. Pick a Specialty
Choose a focus area for your future as a counselor. If you enjoy working with kids, become a counselor for schools or children’s homes; if you have a knack for mediation, consider a career in marriage counseling. You might also decide you prefer to work behind the scenes in research or publishing. The possibilities are endless when you’re fully qualified.
4. Network, Network, Network
Like any job, the strength of your career will come only in part from things like hard work and dedication. The rest will depend on networking. In the counseling business, this means your practice will depend on referrals, recommendations and transfers. If you don’t have a solid foundation with other professionals in your field, you’ll miss out on these opportunities.
5. Know Your Motivation
Being a counselor is a demanding job. During hard times, you’ll need to remind yourself why you wanted it in the first place. Give yourself a steel core of determination that you can fall back on when burnout looms on the horizon. Keep pictures and mementos of the people you’ve helped and the lives you’ve changed.
Counseling is a noble profession with a high projected growth rate in the next few years. If you’re ready to grab your counseling career by the horns, use these five tips to secure yourself a bright and busy future.