Becoming a counselor and helping others requires a deep understanding of human nature and all of the idiosyncrasies that go along with it. Counselors have the power to change someone’s life for the better; however, in order to become one and provide the highest level of care, proper education and training is required. While some people choose to work as a general counselor, most people prefer to work with specialized groups of people. The specialization you choose will determine the type of training you need and its duration.

Necessary Education

In order to become a counselor, most states require you earn a Master's degree in Psychology or another related field. Afterward, you must also complete the required number of clinical hours under the supervision of a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker. The requirements will vary from state to state so it’s important to research what is needed to be certified in your state.

Soft Skills

In addition to providing empathy for your patients, you also need to focus on other soft skills. You need to be an active listener and communicator. Regardless of specialization, counselors are curious by nature. They genuinely want to know more about what's negatively affecting their patients and find a way to help them feel better. You should also be able to set both professional and personal boundaries. While being an empathic listener is needed, you must be able to objectively look at situations without letting it affect you on a deeper level. Feeling empathy for those in need is not the same as making emotionally charged decisions or giving advice based on personal opinions.

Working With Others

Since many students need help with complex issues, it's important to strike the right balance. Empathy plays a huge role in helping others with what's bothering them. Counselors must have empathy for their patients and listen with a non-biased mind. They must learn and develop the skills to dig deeper in order to pinpoint the root of a problem.


After completing a Master's degree, many counselors go on to complete additional accreditation in their chosen field. For example, someone interested in helping people suffering from addiction may also become a licensed addiction counselor as well. Afterward, you will then sit for your exam, according to what's required in your state.

Regardless of which specialty you choose, the education and training you receive dramatically impacts your success. Take the time to weigh the pros and cons of each program as well as think about where your heart lies. Counselors who are passionate about their field are the ones who make a difference every day.

For more information about different careers you can pursue, read on here!