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If you are considering a career in clinical counseling, you are in good company. It takes courage and compassion to dedicate your career to helping others. Fortunately, the career prospects for clinical counselors are excellent. With strong job growth expected in the field of counseling psychology, there should be many career paths available to you when you obtain the necessary credentials of a licensed mental health counselor.

The Strong Demand for Mental Health Counseling

The field of mental health counseling is expected to grow, good news for anyone pursuing a career as a clinical mental health counselor.

Career Paths as a Clinical Counselor

There are a variety of career paths available to clinical mental health counselors. Some of the options include:

  • Family Services
  • Outpatient Mental Health and Substance Abuse Centers
  • Inpatient Mental Health and Substance Abuse Centers
  • Hospitals
  • Government
  • Schools
  • Private Practice

Specific job titles include:

  • Outpatient Clinician
  • Addiction Counselor
  • Crisis Counselor

What Does it Take to Become a Clinical Counselor?

A Master’s Degree

The majority of mental health counseling positions require at least a bachelor’s degree, although a master’s degree tends to be the standard. Most clinical psychology programs range from one to three years in length. The more in-depth the training, the longer the program.

There are several paths to becoming a clinical mental health counselor, depending on your interests and preferences as a psychologist. Common master’s degrees that apply to counseling include psychology, mental health counseling, clinical social work, and related degrees.


The licensing required for clinical counselors varies from state to state and you will need to meet the licensure requirements for your state before you can practice as a professional counselor or clinical psychologist. By researching the state requirements, you can determine what specific degree—if any—your state requires for professional counseling work. Not all states require a clinical counseling psychology degree, but most require you to at least pass an exam before you can work on any clinical counseling careers.

A Note on Private Practice

If you plan on establishing your own professional counseling practice, be aware that the criteria for getting licensed as a clinical counselor in private practice are more rigorous than working in other positions. All states require that counseling psychologists in private practice be licensed. Most states expect you to have a master’s degree as well as a certain number of hours of practice under supervision—typically 2,000 to 4,000 hours.

In addition to meeting the education and experience requirements, you will also need to pass an exam and engage in continuing education as you practice.

Enjoy a Rewarding Career as a Clinical Counselor

It can be challenging to meet the necessary counseling psychology requirements to become a clinical counselor, but the hard work is worth it. With a well-trained counselor, students can maximize the benefits of guidance and counseling in schools. You can enjoy a rewarding career with strong projected growth over the long-term.

Want to learn what it takes to be a clinical counselor? Alliant’s California School of Professional Psychology offers a master’s in clinical counseling degree online or on-campus. Contact Alliant International University to learn more.

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