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How to Become a Counsellor in Australia - Career Salaries, Job Stats & Education

How to Become a Counsellor in Australia - Career Salaries, Job Stats & Education

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/ How to Become a Counsellor in Australia - Career Salaries, Job Stats & Education

Why Study Counselling and how to become a Counsellor?

To become a counsellor you will need to complete the Diploma of Counselling (CHC51015) as an introduction to the field and entry-level roles. To be registered as a fully qualified Counsellor you will need to complete a Bachelor of Counselling or equivalent. 

Becoming a Counsellor means you can help people learn to overcome problems they face in their everyday lives including giving direction about their relationships, career problems or any other personal set-backs, as well as providing valuable mental health counselling to those in emotional need.

It’s a great position to be in because as you train to be a worker in this profession, you might decide to become a Youth Worker, Life Coach, Mental Health Worker, or even specialise in Psychology. Below is everything you need to know about starting your career. 

Job outlook & careers

Counsellor Job outlook

The graph shows historical and projected employment levels (thousands) for Counsellors. 

Source: *Job Outlook Government website

Over the years to 2024, the number of job openings for this profession is expected be around 38,900. This change in job openings for those who work in counselling can arise as a result of employment growth and/or people leaving the occupation.

Employment for workers in this profession, a medium-sized occupation, rose strongly in the past years. This very strong employment growth trend for this career area is expected to continue to 2024.

Counsellor salary

What can you earn in this job role in Australia? 

The average weekly salary for Counsellors in Australia is $1,584 per week, which is $82,368 per year.*

Source: *Job Outlook Government website

Counsellor work hours

Full time Counsellors spend around 41 hours per week at work on an average. Around 51% work full time showing there are many opportunities to work part time in this profession. 

Counsellor age profile

Source: *Job Outlook Government website. ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average.

Around 6.9% of the current workforce is aged 65 and over. 4.9% of workers are aged 20-24 years old and the median age of a Counsellor is 45 years.

From an overall perspective, age groups in this profession are split into two main groups: 21.3% are 25-34 years and 23.4% are 45-54 years, providing a diverse mix of youth and experience on the job depending on which area of counselling you’re interested in. This is one profession where life experience is of high value. 

Counsellor education levels

Counsellor EducationSource: *Job Outlook Government website. ABS Survey of Education and Work (SEW).

The most common level of education for a worker in this profession is Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate (37.3%) followed by a Bachelor Degree (35.5%).

Counsellors in short supply: Trends 

Source: *Job Outlook Government website. ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average.

The main employing industry of people who work in counselling in Australia is health care and social assistance, which hires more than half (47.4%) of all workers. This is followed behind by Education and Training (36%). 

What qualifications do you need to be a Counsellor?

The qualifications needed to be a Counsellor are the Diploma of Counselling, and/or a Bachelor of Counselling.

CHC51015 Diploma of Counselling

This is an ideal course to take as your first step towards becoming a Counsellor. The course has been structured to teach and equip you with a range of skills so that you can communicate effectively, work within a case management framework, and provide mental health, behavioural, or emotional assistance to anyone whether its clients or co-workers.

CHC40413 Certificate IV in Youth Work 

There are many young people in need of help. This Youth Worker course will teach you how to listen and understand the problems young people face. It will also equip you with skills on how to interact with families and guardians of children and teens, as well as how to respond to critical situations where a young person is at risk or is experiencing homelessness.

The potential career outcomes from taking this course could include becoming a Community Development Youth Worker, Indigenous Youth Worker, and Youth Case Worker.

Why Study Counselling through Open Colleges?

Open Colleges’ Counselling courses are delivered online, giving you the flexibility to enrol any time of the year and study at your own pace.

Among other things, you'll learn about the role of a counsellor, how to develop, facilitate and monitor all aspects of case management, and to recognize and respond to individuals at risk.

You’ll also learn how to work within a structured counselling framework and to apply specialist interpersonal and counselling interview skills. Other skills include facilitating the counselling relationship and applying personality and development theories. 

Your course includes comprehensive student support to help you throughout your study. Once you've finished your course, you'll graduate with a government-accredited, nationally recognised qualification that can boost your chances of employment.

Interview with a professional 

Anna Michalopoulos

Psychologist / Mental Health Team Leader @Youth Off The Streets

In two sentences, tell us a bit about your role.

My role as a health care professional is to listen and provide support to clients, and work with the client to produce strategies and techniques for change in an area or problem in their life. Another important role to play as a Counsellor in my industry is to work with the client at their pace and deal with what is going on with that client on a given day; this can change from day to day and week to week.

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

My role involves counselling and acting as a Youth Worker for up to 15 young people every week; this can be done over the telephone or face to face, due to the transient nature of our clientele.

I also attend many sites, including Youth Off The Streets schools, where I provide drug and alcohol education classes. I conduct counselling and group support at Youth Off The Streets Dunlea Drug and Alcohol Youth Service day program. I provide staff training, support and mental health counselling for young people at our Don Bosco drug and alcohol crisis centre.

My day-to-day role also includes supervising psychology student placements. We currently have three students completing their placement at various services within the organisation.

Additionally, I provide peer supervision to other psychology staff members and also receive clinical supervision on a regular basis to meet the Australian Psychology board requirements.

What are the best parts of training in this profession? 

Working in this job has many great parts, but one that really stands out for me is the experience of working with homeless and disadvantaged young people and witnessing the young people that let you into their life, trusting you to tell their story.

Another rewarding part of this job is when you work with a young person in counselling for a period of time and then they go on to graduate from school. While on stage speaking about their experiences at Youth Off the Streets they often mention the people who really helped them by name and talk about how much working together has helped them and how much they appreciate and value the counselling relationship. This is a really powerful moment for me.

What skills/attributes do potential workers need to have?

Having tertiary qualifications in psychology or counselling is important when working in this field. Counselling experience, preferably drug and alcohol counselling experience, also helps. Great passion for working as a Youth Worker with disadvantaged and homeless young people and be willing to work within the Youth Off The Streets PRIDE values: Passion, Respect, Integrity, Dedication and Engagement.

What are your favourite things about working in Counselling? 

Working with people and being part of the process of making changes in their lives. Earning peoples trust in a counselling relationship. Seeing clients make positive changes in their lives. Listening to young people’s stories, as each individual is amazing and their stories are inspiring.

Thanks, Anna, for sharing your story with Open Colleges.

Think you’re ready to take the next steps?

If you’ve been thinking about working in counselling and know that you can personally make a difference to people’s lives, fill in your details below to receive a course guide and a consultation with an Enrolment Consultant.

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