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Pathways to becoming a Counsellor in Australia

by Chloe Baird

What does a Counsellor do?

Counsellors work in a wide range of different roles, and help people with a variety of different issues.

The role of a Counsellor is incredibly important. They interact with people who are struggling with a range of different issues, all for different reasons, and help them to overcome these problems. Counsellors aren’t just there to listen to their clients, but to offer them practical solutions in helping them overcome these issues to live healthy, happy lives.

While there are many different specialties to choose from, a day in the life of a Counsellor will involve speaking with and listening to clients and providing them with focused and practical support to help them overcome the challenges in their lives.

Is Counsellor a good career choice in Australia?

According to the Australian government, the average salary for a full-time Counsellor is around $1584 per week, which is higher than the national average. The sector has grown significantly in recent years, and this strong growth is predicted to continue.  

Many people working as Counsellors work part-time (49%), and the average working week is around 41 hours (shorter than the national average).

The majority of people working as Counsellors have a Post Graduate Diploma, Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate or a Bachelor degree. A smaller number of people hold a Diploma or Certificate as their highest level of education.

What traits make a good Counsellor?

Aside from the above-average salary and shortened working week, many people follow a career in Counselling because they want to help people.  

It’s the kind of role that tends to attract people who are naturally good communicators, have a strong sense of empathy, are patient and understanding, and have a desire to help people make positive changes in their lives. Many people who work in this field already have the foundations for the skills needed to become a great Counsellor.

But don’t worry. Even if you feel like you’re lacking certain skills, these are all things that can be learned. And existing skills can always be honed.

A course in counselling can help you do this by building up your knowledge base and skillset so that you have the right tools to become an effective Counsellor.

Just like Bonnie, an OC graduate.

Different types of counselling jobs

As a Counsellor, there are many different paths your career could take you on. That’s the great thing about working in this sector. There are plenty of opportunities for you to discover your niche and find a job that you truly love.

Counsellors can work for non-profit, private or government-owned organisations. Or they could work for themselves with their own private business.

Case Worker

Case Workers work with and support people and children in a range of different settings. Usually, these are disadvantaged and at-risk people in the community. As a Case Worker, your job may include visiting clients at home to check on their living conditions, documenting and reporting health issues, neglect or abuse, liasising with community services, and helping clients to create goals and build plans for safer, happier and healthier lives.

Youth Worker

A Youth Worker will work with disadvantaged or at-risk kids and their families to help create support plans and treatment plans. You will be working with young people to help them overcome challenges in their lives, which might involve substance use disorders, grief, homelessness or domestic violence.

Marriage and Family Counsellor

A Marriage and Family Counsellor will work with couples or families together and one-on-one. Your main focus as a Marriage and Family Counsellor is on maintaining healthy relationships, which may be suffering due to conflict, sexual dysfunction, substance abuse, grief, stress, behavioural problems, or a wide range of other issues.  

Career Counsellor

Some may think that people only ever visit a Counsellor for help coping with mental health issues, substance disorders, or other social issues. While counselling can help with all these things, some people may also find it hugely helpful to speak with a professional about their career options. A Career Counsellor will look at a person’s work history, education as well as motivations, aspirations and personality to help them discover the right career path.

Drug and Alcohol Counsellor

Working with people suffering from substance use disorder, a Drug and Alcohol Counsellor will seek to work with people to better understand their addiction and overcome it. A Drug and Alcohol Counsellor will work to discover the root of the issue, and then work with the client to develop strategies to support them on their road to recovery. They may also liaise with community and rehabilitation services.

How can I become a Counsellor?

What kind of qualifications do you need to become a Counsellor?

As we mentioned above, the majority of people hold a Bachelor degree or higher. Around 18% of people working in this field hold or a Diploma or a Certificate.

If you’re looking to begin a career in Counselling, one of the best places to start is with the CHC51015 Diploma of Counselling.

Pathways to becoming a Counsellor

Not all jobs in this field require a Bachelor’s degree. You can become a Youth Worker or a Case Worker with a VET qualification.

However, if you’re aiming to work in a field that requires a Bachelor degree, a Diploma can act as a fantastic stepping stone.

There are different pathways to becoming a qualified Counsellor. Studying a Diploma of Counselling will give you the foundational knowledge and skills you need to build a strong and robust skillset. And if you choose to pursue further education, you may even be able to apply for course credit, so you can finish your degree quicker.

You can find out more information about university pathways by visiting the course page here.

Are you ready to change people’s lives for the better?

A career in Counselling isn’t the perfect fit for everyone. It can be challenging and demanding at times, and some days will be more difficult than others.

But if you have a real desire to help people and support them in making positive lifestyle choices, you’ll see that the rewards make everything worth it.

If following a career in Counselling feels like the right choice for you, then enrol with Open Colleges today and take the first step towards helping others live their best lives.

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