If you have a burning passion for caring for people with disabilities including physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities, then Rehabilitation Counselor is the right career path you should consider. Rehabilitation counselors have the necessary training and skills to change their patients for the better and are commonly found in a variety of settings such as community rehabilitation centers, senior citizens centers, and youth guidance organizations. In this post, you’ll know how to become a rehabilitation counselor.
Rehabilitation counselors assist individuals with disabilities in living independent, fulfilling lives. This profession offers a meaningful career opportunity for those interested in working directly with clients and positively impacting their lives. Understanding the role, earning potential, and courses for becoming a counselor is essential. Not only that, you also have to know the necessary skills you must possess to have a hugely successful career as a rehabilitation counselor.
Who is a rehabilitation counselor
what do rehabilitation counselors do
According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employment of rehabilitation counselors is projected to grow 2 percent from 2022 to 2032, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
About 6,700 openings for rehabilitation counselors are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
Rehabilitation counselors work in a variety of settings, such as community rehabilitation centers, senior citizen centers, and youth guidance organizations.
How Much Do Rehabilitation Counselors Make?
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median annual salary of $39,990 for rehabilitation counselors, with Glassdoor suggesting a slightly higher national median of $48,443. The exact salary depends on work experience, educational qualifications, and location.
What are the other career options for rehabilitation counselor?
There are many other job options suitable for rehabilitation counselors. While some of these positions perform the exact same duties as one another, others might have slightly different responsibilities. Some of the most common job options for rehabilitation counselors include:
- Vocational rehabilitation counselors
- Rehabilitation consultant
- Independent living specialist
- Job placement specialist
- Case manager
How to Become a Rehabilitation Counselor
- Complete a bachelor’s degree in a rehabilitation and disability studies, behavioral, social science, or psychology field
- Earn a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling
- Complete graduate and postgraduate internship experience for certification/licensure requirements
- Pass any required rehabilitation counseling exams for licensure and certification
- Apply for and earn additional counseling certifications
- Continue your education and stay up to date on rehabilitation counseling trends and changes.
A. Complete a bachelor’s degree in a rehabilitation and disability studies, behavioral, social science, or psychology field
The first step to becoming a rehabilitation counselor is to earn a bachelor’s degree in either rehabilitation and disability studies, behavioral, social work, or psychology, or a related field. However, a master’s degree is required for state licensure.
Graduate programs offer deeper knowledge and experience, while undergraduate coursework helps understand the counseling process. A bachelor’s degree alone is not enough for most jobs.
B. Earn a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling
While some employers might consider applicants with a bachelor’s degree, most will prefer applicants with a graduate degree.
Some universities offer dual-degree programs which allow students to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees simultaneously. These programs must be accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), meeting industry standards.
Master’s degrees in counseling require supervised clinical experience, social and cultural diversity, human growth, career development, group counseling, and research and program evaluation.
C. Get Your License
In most states, you need licensure before you can practice as a professional rehabilitation counselor. So, check your state’s guidelines before applying for jobs. If you work in a state without license requirements, consider obtaining a relevant license or rehabilitation counselor certification to enhance job prospects and earning potential.
Rehabilitation counselors must obtain state licensure, which varies by state. Some exemptions apply, such as providing vocational rehabilitation services. Most states require 2,000-4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience, including direct client contact and individual meetings with a supervising counselor. The most common exam is the National Counselor Examination, offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors.
D. Get Internship
Applicants enrolled in a CACREP-accredited master’s program must complete 600 hours of internship in rehabilitation counseling, with an on-site CRC or CRC-certified faculty member supervising these hours.
They must spend at least 240 hours providing direct services to individuals with disabilities. Those with master’s or doctoral degrees in related subjects can also submit related work experience.
E. Consider Certification
A professional certification can cement your skills and aid in your job search. Counseling certification is not always required, but employers often prefer it. The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) offers the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) distinction.
E. Rehabilitation Counseling Certification
Earning your CRC certification demonstrates your specialized skills in rehabilitation counseling. The stringent requirements detailed below—including continued education—hold CRC-certified counselors to a higher quality standard.
F. Certificate Fee
The CRC exam fee includes the $410 application fee, with a $75 deferral fee for non-participants. If not passed, retaken for $225. To maintain certification, 100 hours of continued education every five years, including 10 ethics hours, is required, with a renewal fee of $405.
G. Hone your skills
Rehabilitation counselors offer care to some of the most vulnerable populations. As a result, it’s important to hone your interpersonal skills to ensure that you can provide the best possible help to those with disabilities. Some of the most important skills you might consider honing include:
- Active listening
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Become a Rehabilitation Counselor
Does all the state have the same regulations for rehabilitation counselors?
Each state has different regulations for rehabilitation counselors. In some states, vocational counseling or job placement counseling do not require a license. Be sure to check your local state or the state where you want to practice for details and the scope of practice.
Does all the states have the same requirements for licensing?
The requirements to maintain your rehabilitation counselor license also vary by state.
How often should I renew my rehabilitation counseling license?
In general, you must complete continuing education and apply to renew your license every two or three years.
Can I transfer my rehabilitation license to another state?
While rehabilitation counselor licenses do not transfer across states, you may be eligible for licensure by endorsement if you move. This means you need to demonstrate that you meet the new state’s requirements, rather than applying from the beginning.
Are rehabilitation counselors in demand?
Rehabilitation counselors are in some demand. This profession is expected to grow about as fast as average, at 2% annually between 2022 and 2032, according to the BLS.