A youth counselor works with children and adolescents to help them handle problems, correct behavior, develop life and coping skills, and build stronger self-esteem.
Youth counselors may work with individuals or small groups in community centers, foster homes, hospitals, drug treatment centers, schools, and privately and may also offer academic, career, personal, and social guidance as well. Some youth counselors even live in-residence. They usually work as part of a team that may also include psychologists and other medical professionals to best confront issues that face a young person.
Many youth counselors begin with an associate degree in counseling or social work; a bachelor’s or master’s degree may also be beneficial and even required in some states to become a licensed counselor. Coursework in such programs include instruction in subjects such as psychology, human growth and development, sociology, and statistics.
Those who wish to specialize in areas such as drug treatment, a particular age group, or religious affiliation may also find the opportunity to do so. Although some employers don’t require licensure, pursuing such certification would give candidates an added edge in the job hunt.
Youth counselor salaries vary according to education level obtained and experience, but often fall among those classified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as “community and social service specialists.” The median annual income of such workers was $38,100. State and local government employees earned the highest mean annual wages at $47,000 and $45,270 respectively.
For licensed counselors, the BLS reports that the median annual income was $51,050 with the highest paid individuals found in elementary and secondary schools.
The U.S. Department of Labor predicts “faster than the average” growth in employment of both social workers and counselors, especially for those who work in rural areas.
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics