Employment Outlook & Career Guidance for Grief Counselors

Created by careersinpsychology

Grief Counselor EmploymentAccording to socio-economic sources and experts, the career outlook for Grief Counselors is very promising. The number one reason for the inspirational career projection can be found in the requirements of the newly implemented Affordable Health Care Act (Obama Care). For example, The United States Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) has stated that The Affordable Health Care Act expands “mental health” and “substance use disorder” benefits for 62 million Americans. Four specialists at the USDHHS published an article regarding the new implementations. Quoting them,

“The Affordable Care Act will provide one of the largest expansions of mental health and substance use disorder coverage in a generation. Beginning in 2014 under the law, all new small group and individual market plans will be required to cover ten Essential Health Benefit categories, including mental health and substance use disorder services, and will be required to cover them at parity with medical and surgical benefits.”

-Kirsten Beronio, Rosa Po, Laura Skopec, Sherry Glied

The most common sources of clientele for Grief Counselors are individuals who have suffered a loss, such as death of a spouse or parent. According to the national Administration on Aging (USDHHS);

“The older population--persons 65 years or older--numbered 39.6 million in 2009 (the latest year for which data is available). They represented 12.9% of the U.S. population, about one in every eight Americans. By 2030, there will be about 72.1 million older persons, more than twice their number in 2000. People 65+ represented 12.4% of the population in the year 2000 but are expected to grow to be 19% of the population by 2030.”

Common sense dictates that a substantial increase in those Americans approaching their twilight years will have a corresponding increase in the mortality rate. The combination of:

  1. The high numbers of those becoming senior citizens; and
  2. The ability of Americans to now obtain grief counseling which will be covered and paid for on their insurance plans;

means that more family members dealing with grief from the loss of loved ones will be seeking out the services of a Grief Counselor. While the irony is unfortunate, a career as a Grief Counselor is very much alive and growing.

Read more about how to become a grief counselor.

What Type of Positions Can a Grief Counselor Hold?

Private Practice: Grief Counselors who have met all state and local requirements have the opportunity to open a private practice. Those interested in practicing independently would be prudent to consult some of the many resources advising caution in this regard. Although the United States Bureau of Labor reports that over half of mental health professionals are in private practice; there are special considerations for someone newly entering the field.

Government Positions Related to Disaster: Many branches of state and local government require the mental health services that a Grief Counselor provides. Those facilities handling segments of the population which are dealing with grief-related issues will seek out Grief Counselors.

Natural Disasters: Agencies that handle natural disasters must have access to Grief Counselors to meet the demands of large-scale disasters caused by earthquakes, tornados, floods and fires. Portions of the FEMA website deal with the questions surrounding natural disasters that will assist you in knowing where you might begin to seek out employment in this particular field. FEMA outlines the job of both state and federal agencies and the type of relief they provide. In a time of major loss, the job of Grief Counselor is systemic to relief; dealing with the mental fallout of catastrophe is primary to establishing a stable community after severe loss.

“Katrina took everything I had; my home, my work, and a family member. If it wasn’t for the counseling the county gave me, I don’t know how I would have made it through all my losses and my feelings.”

-Tamika Jackson, Survivor

Grief Counselor DisasterMan-made Disasters: Grief Counselors are necessary when a state, county, city or township experiences grave loss as a result of large scale violence. For example, the need for Grief Counselors was highlighted in Los Angeles in 1992. The Los Angeles Riot began on April 29, 1992 and continued nearly six days. During that time, 1,000 buildings were destroyed; 12,000 people were arrested; 2,000 were injured and there were 50 individual deaths. Over 9,800 California National Guard troops were dispatched to establish order. Ultimately the cost of the riot was over $1 billion. The loss of life, property and civil order was the cause of wide-spread grief not only in the city of Los Angeles, but also at the county and state level.

Public and Private Sector Positions

Educational Instructor: Provided you have met the educational requirements of the school or college where you seek employment; educational institutions are a viable source of employment, especially in areas at risk for violence.

Hospitals/Medical Centers: Both public and private hospitals and medical centers are a potential source of employment. Areas of medicine that deal with geriatric issues, fatal illnesses, and oncology are most likely to need the expertise of a Grief Counselor in assisting not only their patients, but the patient’s friends and family as well.

Religious Organizations: Religious denominations having national or statewide prominence are places where a Grief Counselor might seek employment. Although many use their clergy to meet with church members, liability risks are lowered when a professional is utilized. Work could also be available at the higher levels of administration in a consulting role.

Police and Fire Agencies: Services provided by agencies of the police and fire departments offer counseling for employees who experience traumatic situations as a way of life. All police officers and fire-fighters experience a significant amount of loss albeit indirectly. The county and city governments are responsible to provide counseling for these individuals.

Victim’s Services: When a member of a community has experienced loss for any number of reasons; the local government often assists by providing grief counseling for the affected.

Charitable Organizations: Charities which deal with loss and events leading to loss often employ Grief Counselors on an ad hoc or on-staff basis. Topics of these groups include: depression, suicide, rape, abuse, violence against women and children, cancer, pediatric cancer, mental illness, as well as many other individual terminal illnesses.

Ways for a Grief Counselor to Increase Desirability as a Job Candidate

Education/Degrees/Certifications:The more education a candidate has to offer an employer, the higher the chances of being chosen for a position. Master’s Degrees as well as Doctorates in the area of Grief Counseling will definitely make applicants shine far above the rest.

Spotlight Counseling Degree for Those Interested in Grief Counseling


Experience: The more experience in the field of Grief Counseling you have, the more appealing you are to an employer. If you lack skills from experience, seek out agencies which will allow you to obtain valuable time as a volunteer. Also, experience in dealing with community organizations in which grief counseling is integrated, will show an employer that you have reached out and have essentially made Grief Counseling a way of life as well as a career.

Ways for a Grief Counselor to Increase His/Her Salary

For most organizations, salary is determined by two things; experience and education.

If you are lacking in either category, you can increase your salary by furthering your knowledge and expanding your experiential base.

Education: Obtain a Master’s or Doctoral Degree. Earn Certification in specialty area.

Workshops: If your employer approves, you could offer free workshops for the community in areas that are most prone to needing Grief Counseling. For example, you could work with groups dealing with and victims of

  • Gang Violence
  • Rape
  • Child Abuse
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Survivors
  • Families of Survivors

Offering this vital assistance will show that you are a contributing, active member of the community. Often these types of involvements will boost the public image of your employer and make you a valuable asset to their institution.

Join Local Service Organizations: Well-known community service groups are usually conducting high profile activities which benefit the locale in which they operate. By belonging to and participating in these groups, it will reflect positively on your place of employment. It may take time, but eventually this will assist you in bargaining for a salary increase at your place of employment.

Volunteer: Volunteer to work with groups suffering from any kind of loss.

Attitude: Keeping a positive and uplifting attitude never goes unnoticed by an employer. You greatly increase the chances of monetary reward when you approach your profession and its daily expression with a smile and a kind word.