Counseling degrees are offered at all academic levels by many U.S. schools. You can view these schools on the American School Counselor Association’s website. Counseling is a psychology-based field that works through conversation to help people with their interpersonal, personal, and psychological issues. Those who enjoy working to understand the human psyche as well as interpersonal communication will find this career satisfying. Students enrolled in online degree programs for counseling come to understand human behavior as well as develop skills that enable them to effectively foster communication with their patients.
Online Associate Degree Programs for Counseling
Associate online college degree programs for counseling are not widely offered. As such, students often must attend on-campus programs. In these two-year programs, students take courses such as Law and Ethics and Case Management in order to develop the skills they’ll need in their careers as counselors. Generally, students choose this academic path for one of two reasons. Some wish to enter into a counseling career as soon as possible; though many positions such as those in substance abuse and behavioral disorder counseling require at least a master’s degree. Others do so with the plan to continue their education with a bachelor’s degree or beyond at a four-year college or university.
Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs for Counseling
Online bachelor degree programs in counseling are more readily available than associate degrees. Also, unlike associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees take the average student about four years of full-time study. In bachelor’s programs, students gain a broader education than those in associate programs. Bachelor’s degrees are considered a foundation for those seeking counseling careers. As most of these careers require at least a master’s degree, many pursue a bachelor’s degree as a means to entering into a graduate program. Others choose counseling degrees because it prepares them for careers, oddly enough, in customer service, advertising, and market research. This is because students’ education centers on understanding human thoughts, feelings, and actions, all of which are important considerations in the business world. Students in bachelor’s counseling programs usually spend about half of their education completing general education course requirements and the other half satisfying course requirements that are relevant to their degree.
Online Master’s Degree Programs for Counseling
For those seeking counseling careers, online masters degree programs in counseling are a necessity. These programs typically take about two years to complete, unless they are offered as accelerated online degree programs, in which case some may complete their master’s degree in less than two years. The best online degree programs prepare students to either earn their doctorates in counseling or enter directly into a counseling career. Most pursue master’s degrees in counseling for these reasons as well as the salary increase inherent in obtaining such a degree. Master’s degrees are much more research-intensive than associate and bachelor’s degrees. Students will read substantially more and be expected to understand the material as well as employ analytical skills in class forum discussions. Most master’s programs require students to complete courses as well as propose and complete a thesis, which is an in-depth research paper.
Online Doctoral Degree Programs for Counseling
Students who pursue an online degree program in counseling at the doctoral level can expect to spend between three and seven years working towards their degree. Doctorates usually require a little over two years of course work and the rest of students’ time is spent completing their dissertation, which is a book-length research paper that some have published. At this level, most students have experience in the counseling world and wish to earn their doctorate to advance their careers as researchers, counselors, or into owning their own practice. Others do so because they strive to become counseling teachers at four-year institutions.
Online Degree Programs in Counseling in the Work Place
The careers counseling graduates obtain are dependent on which academic degree they hold. Associate and bachelor’s degree holders have fewer counseling-related career options than those who hold a master’s or doctoral degree. Common careers obtained by graduates include substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, and school and career counselors. The salaries reported below demonstrate averages according to national data and should not be considered a guarantee of a given individual’s salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors earn a little over $38,000 annually and said field is expected to see a growth of 27% by 2020. Meanwhile, the BLS reports that school and career counselors earn over $53,000 annually and a 19% increase in employment is projected in coming years.