How To Become a Mental Health Counselor

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How Long Does It Take, What Degree Do You Need, and More

Mental Health Counselors

Mental Health Counselors counsel and advise individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health, with an emphasis on prevention. May help individuals deal with a broad range of mental health issues, such as those associated with addictions and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; or aging.

Becoming One
Very Hard
Master's degree
Job Satisfaction
Job Growth


What degree do you need

Recommended degree level

Master’s Degree

We did a survey to ask other Mental Health Counselors what degree they had when they became a Mental Health Counselor. Here are the results.
Master’s Degree

Bachelor’s Degree

Associate’s Degree

One of the most common questions that we always get is what major or degree do I need to become Mental Health Counselors or what courses do I need to take.

We also asked Mental Health Counselors what did they major in college or university and here are the top 5 most popular majors that came up.

Substance Abuse and Addiction Counseling
Medical Social Work
Clinical Pastoral Counseling or Patient Counseling
Mental Health Counseling

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.

Featured Schools

How hard is it

Very Hard

You will need an extensive amount of skill, knowledge and experience to be a Mental Health Counselor. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, a surgeon must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.

Careers in this difficulty category may need some on-the-job-training, but most of these careers assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, and work-related experience and training. These careers usually involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Similar careers include pharmacists, lawyers, astronomers, biologists, neurologists, and veterinarians.

Related work experience required
2 to 4 years

2 to 4 years

1 to 2 years

1 to 3 months

Job training
3 to 6 months

3 to 6 months

Up to 1 month

1 to 3 months

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

Knowledge required

Just like any other job, you will need certain know-hows to excel at your job. Mental Health Counselors are generally very knowledgeable 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

Learn more about Mental Health Counselors

Job Description
Requirements (You are here)

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Related to Mental Health Counselors Requirements

Mental Health Counselors requirements, how to become Mental Health Counselors, degree required to be a Mental Health Counselor, Mental Health Counselors license and certifications, majors to be a Mental Health Counselor, is it hard to become a Mental Health Counselor and how long does it take

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