Employment Outlook & Career Guidance for Community Counselors
If you are considering a career as a Community Counselor, you are entering a field which will be experiencing a substantial increase in job opportunities through 2031 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. While the general outlook for other career specialties is 5%, the projected growth in the labor market for Community Counselors and other community service providers is 12% — more than double the norm. The above-average growth in the industry is fueled by both private sector and public agencies seeking to curb the rising costs of medical care for emotionally troubled segments of society. The goal of these entities is to provide preventative as well as emotional support for communities as well as individuals in an effort to concentrate issues in the mental health arena versus the system designed to serve problems of a physical nature. Dr. Jane Whitley of the Mayo Clinic feels strongly that those seeking future employment in the field of Community Counseling will be entering a growth-orientated job market:
“As the scientific community is gradually realizing that many autoimmune disorders as well as other diseases and syndromes have emotional roots; those involved in the “business” of healthcare are seeking solutions which are more cost-effective in the long term. Instead of running to a doctor, those crunching the numbers are finding out that what is really needed are resources aimed at providing quality care from the Community Counseling field.”
-Dr. Jane Whitley Ph.D.
What Type of Positions Can a Community Counselor Hold?
Natural Disasters: Weather-related disasters have increased the need for Community Counselors in the public sector. Natural disasters such as tornadoes, floods, and other weather related events require governments to provide their constituents with mental health counseling by Community Counselors. For large-scale disasters there is a definitive need for having Community Counselors available with a minimum of notice.
Crises Caused by Human Behavior: When communities experience the effects of violent acts perpetrated upon them, Community Counselors are essential to restoring a sense of order and normalcy to the affected areas by providing various forms of grief counseling. These crises include violence in the schools, either by individuals within or intruders; acts of violence aimed at public officials and systemic violence caused by gang activities and random violent occurrences.
“Columbine, the shooting of Senator Gabrielle Giffords, and the Sandy Hook massacre, are all examples of when Community Counseling comes into play. Yes, individuals are affected, but bullets don’t stop with one person. They keep going and spread pain throughout towns, cities, counties and who knows how far beyond that. People need to feel safe again in their communities. Our job is to try and make sense out of something that doesn't.”
-Dr. Sylvia Moore Ed.D., HSP
Violence Against A Sector of the Community: When a particular class of people is affected by violence, government agencies require on-staff Community Counselors to assist in dealing with the resulting situations. For example, in a community which experiences substantial amounts of domestic violence, Community Counselors are necessary for providing follow-up care and evaluation. These Community Counselors are associated with government-provided victim’s rights aftercare as well as contact occurring at police facilities.
Problems Dealt with at County Hospitals: Public hospitals are often the first place victims of widespread violence are seen. Physicians and administrators require professional assessment for patients.
Conditions Affecting Community and State Colleges: Crimes occurring at college facilities funded by the county or state necessitate the availability of Community Counselors for handling on-going or situational issues.
Issues Affecting Government Employees: Community Counselors are employed by governments to handle job-related issues that occur on a large scale. For example, both police and fire personnel often undergo situations which affect a large segment of their agencies. Community Counselors work with departments as a whole as well as individuals to provide counseling, evaluative and solution-based services.
“The year 2009 was a horrible year for fire-related incidences in Southern California. We had fires from the very start of the season all the way to the end. I personally talked to a counselor and I would bet other guys did too.”
-D.P. Fire-Fighter, Los Angeles Division
Not-for-Profit Organizations: Community Counselors are employed by various non-profit groups for services related to the nature of their work. The specific causes these organizations represent include elder abuse, child abuse, domestic violence and various health-related causes.
Private Hospitals: Private hospitals are concerned with providing patients help on a multitude of levels. Community Counselors provide assessment and evaluative services.
Medical Groups: Private medical practitioners require the services of a Community Counselor to deal with issues beyond their areas of expertise.
Insurance Companies: Community Counselors are needed by insurance companies to handle disaster-related services. Increasingly, insurance companies are employing Community Counselors to diagnose emotional issues that may be the source of physical symptoms. Handling problems from a mental health standpoint is proving to reduce costs related to medical care as well as medications.
Private Corporations: When a business is dangerous by nature, or risk-related in any way, there is a need for Community Counselors to provide employees support services.
Ways for Community Counselors to Increase Desirability as a Job Candidate
Volunteer Work Experience: Job candidates increase their chances of employment by having a history of experience in the field in which they are seeking employment. For example, a candidate who has actually worked at the scene of disasters, in hospitals or for non-profit organizations would have more to offer an employer of Community Counselors.
Specialize: Companies, businesses and governments often have a need for a Community Counselor who specializes in a certain type of issue. Finding avenues of increasing your experience and knowledge in the particular area for which the employer is hiring will help you to stand-out as a job candidate.
Involvement with Programs Sponsored by The American Psychological Association (APA)
In an effort to assist Community Counselors in being effective, The APA offers a multitude of choices to Community Counselors with regards to furthering their knowledge and involvement in their field. Visit their site at: http://www.apa.org/about/index.aspx
Ways for Community Counselors to Increase His/Her Salary
Advanced Degrees: Although many employers require a doctorate in order to meet their employment requirements, some hire counselors with a master’s degree. For those in the Community Counseling fields who have not yet acquired a doctorate, doing so almost guarantees an increase in salary as well as additional job opportunities.
Learn more about getting a degree in community health counseling.
Specialized Education: A way to increase value as an employee is to specialize in a certain aspect of your field. Completing certification programs offered by various respected psychological organizations gives a Community Counselor a bargaining tool with regards to salary.
Become an Educator: Providing your employment contract allows for outside work, teaching classes at a local community or state college is a means to increase earnings as a Community Counselor.
Community Involvement: Become involved in community groups which provide a platform for reputational purposes. Once a Community Counselor has established himself in the framework of community service, trust is elicited from the community itself. Having a markedly distinguished reputation geographically will increase chances of being rewarded monetarily at your place of employment.
2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics job market trends and salary figures for community service managers are based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed June 2023.