Child Counseling Degree and Certificate Program Overviews

Child counselors provide support and counseling services to children and adolescents suffering from social, mental, physical or emotional distress. Nearly all states require counselors to hold a master's degree, such as a Master of Arts in Counseling, Child and Adolescent Counseling. Certificate programs are not adequate to gain licensure and are not offered in the field.

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Master of Arts in Counseling, Child and Adolescent Counseling

Master's degree programs in child and adolescent counseling provide students with the practical training and theoretical background necessary to perform counseling work with children. Many master's degree programs are specially designed to meet a particular state's child counselor licensing requirements. They are typically comprised of classroom lectures, seminars, supervised field experience and a thesis paper or project.

Many master's degree programs in child and adolescent counseling allow students to focus on a particular concentration, such as child program administration or exceptional child counseling. Students learn about childhood development, counseling theory and practice, child counseling techniques, ethical issues in child counseling and play therapy. They also learn how to work with children who suffer from learning disabilities, development disabilities and autism.

Education Prerequisites

Students must have a baccalaureate degree before enrolling in a master's degree program in counseling with an emphasis on child and adolescent counseling. An educational or professional background in social work, psychology, education or health sciences is recommended. Incoming students must also submit GRE scores, transcripts, statements of interest and letters of recommendation.

Program Coursework

Most graduate programs in child counseling take at least 60 credit hours to complete. Some examples of required credits might include:

  • Child counseling practices
  • Counseling theory
  • Educational statistics
  • Counseling research methods
  • Issues in child development
  • Play therapy
  • Gifted or special needs children
  • Family and child therapy
  • Group counseling

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a master's degree program in child and adolescent counseling can go on to achieve several positions within mental health facilities, community outreach programs, hospitals and healthcare centers, and counseling services. Some specific careers might include:

  • Child counselor
  • Mental health facility manager
  • Director of child and teen support services
  • Child counseling program administrator
  • Child and adolescent therapist

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, school and career counselors were projected to see a 19% increase in employment growth from 2010-2020. In May 2012, clinical, counseling and school psychologists averaged $72,220.

Certification Options

All 50 states require child counselors to have licensure. While individual requirements may vary from state to state, most require child counselors to complete a master's degree program before they are eligible to gain licensure. Supervised clinical experience and fieldwork are also a common prerequisite to gaining licensure.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics