The Importance of Mental Health (MH) Counseling Degrees
As with all sectors in Human Services, the Mental Health Counseling sector has seen a vast increase in the overall education of its professionals. This has led to a greatly increased competition for the jobs that are available in the sector as more and more highly educated professionals enter the workforce. This is partly due to the economic downturn of 2008 which saw a great many people who had lost their jobs return to school to earn advanced degrees, sometimes in new sectors such as Mental Health Counseling.
For all of these reasons it has become extremely important that those wishing to find work in this sector achieve the highest level of education possible.
The other big advantage you will have after earning your advanced degree is the greatly increased depth of knowledge you will have about your discipline. You will also have specialized training that will give you skill sets that are immediately usable upon entering professional practice. In the case of Masters or Doctoral degrees, you will have experienced a supervised internship in which you practice the skills and make use of the knowledge you have learned as part of your education in a professional setting under the direction of a professional in your field.
This kind of experience is invaluable in preparing you for your own eventual unsupervised practice in which you will be called upon to make extremely important decisions in the sessions you have with your clients. Be able to fall back on experience you had during your supervised internship will be extremely helpful in giving you a practical understanding of your profession.
Putting in the effort, time and monetary investment into achieving educational excellence will be some of the best preparation available for your profession. By deeply committing yourself to achieving the highest quality education you are laying the ground work for a smooth transition from the academic world into the professional sphere. This will involve in part a conscious decision as to what level of degree attainment you wish to achieve.
While a Bachelor’s of Counseling will open the door to a variety of Human Services careers, if you wish to practice counseling you will need to progress your education to earning your Master’s or Ph.D. in counseling and complete the necessary steps to attain licensure in the state in which you live.
Planning your education in advance will help you to quickly and easily move between each level of degree attainment and on to any supervised experience necessary to achieve licensure. Once you have completed all your necessary education, supervision and testing you will be ready to open your own private Mental Health Counseling practice with confidence.
Bachelor of Mental Health Counseling
As the workforce becomes increasingly educated the standards of employers are rising in response. Jobs that once required little more than a High School diploma are now going to candidates who have Bachelor’s degrees. Human Services is a broad sector that encompasses a great variety of jobs in many sub-sectors. From helping people with Mental Health issues, to counseling people who are grieving and helping families to receive government benefits, there are many routes to employment in Human Services. This is very relevant to those who hold Bachelor of Counseling degrees as while you likely will be unable to find employment as a Counselor, you will be able to enter many Human Services jobs and begin a career within a Human Services agency perhaps in a capacity you had not previously considered.
If you are looking to find a job in Human Services directly after getting your Bachelor’s degree, or if you wish to expand your potential client base as you continue your studies with the intent of opening a private practice, you may want to consider having a foreign language as your minor. By learning a foreign language you are making your resume really stand out to prospective employers and also greatly increasing the number of people you can potentially provide mental health counseling services to. The primary language to consider will be Spanish due to the large Spanish speaking population in the U.S. However, many areas in the US have significant populations that speak other languages such as Russian, Vietnamese, Chinese and Bosnian. You may wish to contact Human Services agencies in the area in which you plan on living and working and finding out which languages they are looking for in potential employees.
Once you have your Bachelors of counseling you will have a variety of potential Human Services careers become available to you including, but not limited to the following:
- Human Services Liaison
- Behavioral Management Aide
- Eligibility Worker
- Human Services Screener
- Juvenile Court Liaison
- Probation Officer
- Rehabilitation Case Worker
- Case Management Aide
- Community Outreach Worker
Master of Mental Health Counseling
While many jobs in Human Services will only require that potential workers have a Bachelor’s degree in a Human Services related field, if you wish to have a mid to high level job in Human Services or to become a licensed Mental Health counselor, you will need to attain your Master of Counseling degree.
With a Master’s degree in Counseling, you are opening things up for yourself in a variety of ways. You are ensuring that not only will you be able to open your own private practice once you complete the licensure process; you will also be highly competitive for many Human Services jobs throughout the sector including administrative positions. You also can anticipate a significantly higher income and a much higher professional ceiling once you have completed your Master’s program.
Here are a few of the job titles you can hold with a Master of counseling degree, they include but are not limited to the following:
Here are some of the human services job titles you can hold with a Master’s degree:
- Licensed Professional Counselor
- Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
- Human Services Educator
- Higher Education Counselor
- Student Affairs Administrator
- Drug and Alcohol Counselor
- Addictions Counselor
- Licensed Mental Health Counselor
- Director of Human Services Agency
- Geriatric Counselor
- School Counselor
- Social and Community Service Manager
Doctorate in Mental Health Counseling
As the highest degree one can achieve in Counseling, the Doctorate brings with it prestige, recognition as an expert in the field, access to any job within the field of counseling and also the highest possible pay. Once you have earned your Ph.D. you will be eligible to apply for all of the previously mentioned positions and many more.
If you are interested in an Academic career, with a Doctoral degree you will be able to teach undergrads and graduate students at universities to help and train the next generation of Counselors. With your Ph.D. in Counseling you will be seen as an excellent candidate for a leadership position in a human services organization. With your Ph.D. you will have endless opportunities in the field of counseling and also the Human Services sector as a whole. You will be considered to be an expert in your field and have the authority to write books on your discipline. You can lead research teams in a clinical setting to investigate the best ways to develop new Counseling methods that can be put to use through the field of Counseling.
You will be able to command the highest possible pay and will have your pick of which agencies or organizations you wish to work in. Your ceiling for promotion will be maximized in any organization and you will also have optimal job security. The reasons to attain your Ph.D. are many and make the time, monetary and effort involved well worth it.