What Is the Job Description of a Youth Counselor?
Would you enjoy working with young people? Are you interested in helping troubled adolescents overcome problems in their lives? Read on to learn more about the job responsibilities of a youth counselor. Schools offering Child Development degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Job Duties Might I Perform as a Youth Counselor?
Youth counselors treat adolescents who have mental or emotional problems, disabilities and substance abuse issues. As a youth counselor, you could counsel adolescents individually or through group sessions. You may need to provide crisis intervention and might also help youths to resolve conflicts, overcome life hurdles and replace undesirable habits with acceptable behaviors. You often need to confer with other professionals, including social workers, educators, criminal justice officials and psychologists.
Your duties as a youth counselor could include creating and implementing personalized treatment programs for troubled adolescents. You might interview the adolescents and their family members to recommend needed social services. You'll then review and alter their plans to achieve agreed-upon goals. Your duties might also include supervising, disciplining and interacting with youths at correctional facilities or group homes.
Employment and Salary Information
As a youth counselor, you might work for state or local governments, schools, group homes, hospitals, social service agencies, correctional centers, religious associations or substance abuse prevention programs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median yearly wage for mental health counselors was $38,150 as of May 2010, while substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors made a similar median salary of $38,120 (www.bls.gov). Other types of counselors earned a median salary of $41,650.
What Education Do I Need?
Education requirements for becoming a counselor depend on your state, your chosen specialty and your employer. You may be able to obtain an entry-level youth counseling job with a bachelor's degree. Some employers require a bachelor's degree in human services or a related field, plus relevant work experience. A bachelor's degree program in applied psychology is another option for starting your career as a youth counselor.
You typically need a master's degree to become licensed as a counselor. Master's degree programs in counseling typically include an internship. After earning your graduate degree, you might choose to further your education by obtaining a postgraduate certificate in adolescent counseling or marriage and family therapy.
What Are the Licensure and Certification Requirements?
Depending on your employer and state, you may need to hold a license to work as a youth counselor. In addition to earning a master's degree, you usually have to accumulate a certain number of clinical hours, pass an exam and complete continuing education units.
To further your career, you may also seek voluntary certification from the National Board for Certified Counselors by taking one of their national examinations (www.nbcc.org). This board awards a general practice designation as a National Certified Counselor and specialty certifications in school, clinical mental health and addictions counseling.
The National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors offers both basic counseling and addictions counseling certifications, as well as an Adolescent Specialist Endorsement (www.naadac.org). To qualify for one of these addictions counseling exams, you typically must earn state licensure and hold supervised counseling experience.
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