How To Become A Mental Health Counselor: Degree and Education Requirements

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what degree do you need to become a Mental Health Counselor
majors for Mental Health Counselors

Mental Health Counselors

Other names for this job might include Behavior Analyst, Behavior Support Specialist (BSS), Bereavement Counselor, Case Manager, Child Care Counselor, Clinical Mental Health Counselor, Clinician, Correctional Counselor, Corrections Caseworker, Counselor

  • $45080
  • 70%
    Job satisfaction
  • Hard
    Becoming one
  • High
    Job growth
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Be A Mental Health Counselor: What You Really Need

In this requirements guide for Mental Health Counselors, you will find out what do you need to become a Mental Health Counselor and what it takes to become one.

After reading this, you will be able to plan for your future if you want to be a Mental Health Counselor.

Degree required

Recommended degree level

Master’s Degree

Master’s degree

Bachelors degree

Associates degree

Post-masters certificate


Generally, employers are looking for Mental Health Counselors who have a Master’s degree. They also prefer someone who is good in Active Listening and Social Perceptiveness.

1 common question that we always get is what major or degree do I need to become A Mental Health Counselor or what courses do I need to take.

We did a survey to ask other Mental Health Counselors what did they major in college or university and here are the most popular majors that came up.

Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling
Clinical/Medical Social Work
Clinical Pastoral Counseling/Patient Counseling
Mental Health Counseling/Counselor

To become a mental health counselor, applicants typically need a master’s degree in psychology, social work, counseling, marriage and family therapy, or a related mental health field. A bachelor’s degree in most fields is acceptable to enter a master’s-level program.


schools for Mental Health Counselors

Interested in becoming A Mental Health Counselor? Find the right schools that can help you to become one. You will need some of your details to get you matched with the right college or university. This service is free thanks to our sponsors.

Questions to ask the university or college:

  1. How many students are in the program?
  2. Is your program accredited?
  3. How many faculty members do you have? Do they hold the right credentials?
  4. What is your job placement rate?
  5. Does your school hold career fairs or other on-campus events with employers? How many employers typically attend?
  6. How many of your students have at least one internship by graduation?

Click to start becoming a Mental Health Counselor

How long does it take


You will need a considerable amount of skill, knowledge and experience to be A Mental Health Counselor. Normally you will be required to have more than five years of experience.

For example: A surgeon have to complete 4 years of college plus an additional 5 to 7 years of specialized medical training to be able to do his/her job.

In terms of on-the-job training, you may need some training however you will be assumed that you will already have the necessary skills and work experience to perform the job.

How long does it take
2 to 4 1/2 years

Work experience
2 to 4 years

2 to 4 years

1 to 2 years

1 to 3 months

4 to 6 years

6 months to 1 year

Job training
3 to 6 months

3 to 6 months

0 to 1 month

1 to 3 months

6 months to 1 year

No training

Most Mental Health Counselors have 2 to 4 years work experience and 3 to 6 months job training.

To increase your chances of getting a job, you can look for job training while studying to be one.

License and certifications

Do you need any license or certification

In most cases, both mental health counselors must be licensed. Licensure requires a master’s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of post-degree supervised clinical experience. In addition, counselors and therapists must pass a state-recognized exam and complete annual continuing education classes.

Skills required

We asked other Mental Health Counselors if they could only have 5 skills, what would they be. Here is what they said.

1. Active Listening what does this mean
2.Social Perceptiveness what does this mean
3.Speaking what does this mean
4.Service Orientation what does this mean
5.Writing what does this mean
= Hot in-demand that most employers are looking for

We did some research and found that most successful Mental Health Counselors have these 5 common characteristics. Most of them had Self Control and Integrity.

1.Self Control
3.Concern for Others
4.Stress Tolerance

Knowledge required

Just like any other job, you will need some know-hows to do the job. To become a successful Mental Health Counselors you need to acquire knowledge in these 5 key areas.

1. Psychology what does this mean
2.Therapy and Counseling what does this mean
3.Customer and Personal Service what does this mean
4.Sociology and Anthropology what does this mean
5.English Language what does this mean

As A Mental Health Counselor, you may also be required to know how to use certain Medical software, Data base user interface and query software and Electronic mail software tools.

Client information database systems (Medical software)
Database software (Data base user interface and query software)
Email software (Electronic mail software)
Management information systems MIS software (Enterprise resource planning ERP software)
Microsoft Access (Data base user interface and query software)
= Hot in-demand that most employers are looking for

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Related to Mental Health Counselors Requirements

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