by Staff - Original publish date: February 25, 2014

The duties of a counselor are as multiple and various as the diverse populations they serve. From mental health facilities to your local high school to a police station, there is a counselor around with the kind of expertise to help anyone in need of listening or advice.

Family and marriage therapists listen to individuals or groups of individuals who may be experiencing problems in their home life. They might offer advice for healthy behavior or more effective coping mechanisms.

School guidance counselors advise students on how to transition into the next phases of their lives. They are expected to be knowledgeable about child development, college admissions, and vocational options for young adults.

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors help people experiencing problems with alcohol, drugs, gambling.

Vocational counselors help people to make career decisions based on their experience, credentials, and interests.

These are just a few of the many options available to someone interested in pursuing a profession in counseling. Related professions, such as psychologists and psychiatrists, may also involve counseling as part of the job duty, though the formal requirements for these professions differ.

No matter the specialty, a counselor should have a sincere desire to help people and the emotional fortitude to deal with difficult and complex human situations. Every counselor is expected to stick to a given code of ethics associated with his or her specialty.

Salaries for counselors vary greatly between specialties, click here to view a few counselor salaries. Governmental facilities pay the most, followed by hospitals and then residential care facilities. Counselors with private or well-established practices can be paid much more highly.

It is important when you decide to pursue a profession in counseling that you consult the requirements of your state in your chosen specialty. Many states require the completion of a master’s degree, and continuing education is a good idea for counselors in state which require that counseling licenses be renewed. Online counseling degrees and training can be accessed from these online colleges. Taking on a graduate program in one of several counseling disciplines can be a great career decision. You can also review these online degrees and courses.

One of the greatest benefits of distance learning is that a student can log into class with fellow students from across the country anytime, anywhere; however, prospective distance learners should never forget that there is always a "real person" on hand to help you figure out what curriculum works best for where you are (and who you are!).

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