Top States to Become a Counselor in 2018

All across the country, there is an unmet need for professional counselors in various careers. The field of counseling grows every year, adding more jobs, providing more mental health services, behavioral support and psychological assessments along with creating opportunities for individuals to grow. In our analysis results below, OnlineCounselingPrograms.com's staff looked at several factors for placement on this list: highest rates of employment, highest projected job growth, annual mean wage, mental health care professional shortages and cost of living.

Ranking Criteria and Structure

States are awarded one point if it is mentioned in the top ten states in highest rates of employment, highest projected job growth and annual mean wage for each type of counselor - school & career, substance abuse, behavioral disorder & mental health and rehabilitation. This means that any state can be awarded up to nine points by being seen in a top 10 list.

The Kaiser Foundation has found that each of these top states to become a counselor has more than a 50% need for mental health care professionals. For this ranking factor, states with less than 20% of mental health need met received one point, states with 20-35% need met received .5 points, and for states between 35-45% - their score did not change.

The cost of living rank is based on the average index of 100 as is the index given for the average cost of living in all of the United States. States that made our list thusfar, received an additional two points if they had an index less than 90, one point if their index was less than 95 but more than 90, and .5 if their index was less than 100 but more than 95.


Total points possible for any state is 12:

  • Nine total for employment and wage category
  • One total for percentage of need for mental health professionals
  • Two total for cost of living rank

1. Tennessee

7/12 Points
Top States to Become a Counselor - 2018
Tennessee Counselor Average Counselor Salary Number of Counseling Jobs Counseling Job Growth Through 2019
School and Career Counselors $49,540 4,340 +5.0%
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors $39,180 3,470 +7.2% - Substance Abuse Counselors
+5.3% - Mental Health Counselors
Rehabilitation Counselors $23,900 2,790 +4.5%

Learn more on how to become a counselor in Tennessee.

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2. Arizona

6.5/12 Points
Top States to Become a Counselor - 2018
Arizona Counselor Average Counselor Salary Number of Counseling Jobs Counseling Job Growth Through 2019
School and Career Counselors $53,160 7,760 +3.4%
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors $42,100 4,570 +8.8% - Substance Abuse Counselors
+7.8% - Mental Health Counselors
Rehabilitation Counselors $31,750 1,530 +5.4%

Learn more on how to become a counselor in Arizona.

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3. California

6.5/12 Points
Top States to Become a Counselor - 2018
California Counselor Average Counselor Salary Number of Counseling Jobs Counseling Job Growth Through 2019
School and Career Counselors $68,000 30,050 +4.9%
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors $47,840 26,240 +4.5% - Substance Abuse Counselors
+4.2% - Mental Health Counselors
Rehabilitation Counselors $35,650 13,710 +3.8%

Learn more on how to become a counselor in California.

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4. Texas

6/12 Points
Top States to Become a Counselor - 2018
Texas Counselor Average Counselor Salary Number of Counseling Jobs Counseling Job Growth Through 2019
School and Career Counselors $60,210 24,380 +4.2%
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors $45,790 9,200 +5.2% - Substance Abuse Counselors
+4.1% - Mental Health Counselors
Rehabilitation Counselors $43,650 3,720 +3%

Learn more on how to become a counselor in Texas.

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5. Washington

5.5/12 Points
Top States to Become a Counselor - 2018
Washington Counselor Average Counselor Salary Number of Counseling Jobs Counseling Job Growth Through 2019
School and Career Counselors $61,810 4,860 +3.9%
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors $45,850 7,350 +2.7% - Substance Abuse Counselors
+4.3% - Mental Health Counselors
Rehabilitation Counselors $46,030 4,910 +0.7%

Learn more on how to become a counselor in Washington.

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6. Florida

5/12 Points
Top States to Become a Counselor - 2018
Florida Counselor Average Counselor Salary Number of Counseling Jobs Counseling Job Growth Through 2019
School and Career Counselors $49,300 14,820 +3.5%
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors $44,740 8,510 +5.9%
Rehabilitation Counselors $39,790 2,340 +3.4%

Learn more on how to become a counselor in Florida.

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7. Ohio

4.5/12 Points
Top States to Become a Counselor - 2018
Ohio Counselor Average Counselor Salary Number of Counseling Jobs Counseling Job Growth Through 2019
School and Career Counselors $57,240 10,330 +1.8%
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors $45,960 7,290 +4.4% - Substance Abuse Counselors
+5.8% - Mental Health Counselors
Rehabilitation Counselors $40,010 5,050 +3.5%

Learn more on how to become a counselor in Ohio.

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8. Massachusetts

4/12 Points
Top States to Become a Counselor - 2018
Massachusetts Counselor Average Counselor Salary Number of Counseling Jobs Counseling Job Growth Through 2019
School and Career Counselors $66,640 7,410 +2.4%
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors $46,310 12,790 +4.2% - Substance Abuse Counselors
+4.0% - Mental Health Counselors
Rehabilitation Counselors $41,470 5,780 +2.1%

Learn more on how to become a counselor in Massachusetts.

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9. New York

4/12 Points
Top States to Become a Counselor - 2018
New York Counselor Average Counselor Salary Number of Counseling Jobs Counseling Job Growth Through 2019
School and Career Counselors $67,100 22,430 +2.8%
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors $47,640 13,590 +4.3% - Substance Abuse Counselors
+4.7% - Mental Health Counselors
Rehabilitation Counselors $37,430 7,490 +3%

Learn more on how to become a counselor in New York.

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10. Pennsylvania

4/12 Points
Top States to Become a Counselor - 2018
Pennsylvania Counselor Average Counselor Salary Number of Counseling Jobs Counseling Job Growth Through 2019
School and Career Counselors $60,810 8,310 +1.5%
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors $44,270 20,930 +3.9% - Substance Abuse Counselors
+4% - Mental Health Counselors
Rehabilitation Counselors $35,650 13,710 +2.7%

Learn more on how to become a counselor in Pennsylvania.

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11. Illinois

3/12 Points
Top States to Become a Counselor - 2018
Illinois Counselor Average Counselor Salary Number of Counseling Jobs Counseling Job Growth Through 2019
School and Career Counselors $56,550 11,180 +1.6%
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors $42,810 9,660 +1.5% - Substance Abuse Counselors
+1.6% - Mental Health Counselors
Rehabilitation Counselors $36,480 3,210 +1%

Learn more on how to become a counselor in Illinois.

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12. Virginia

3/12 Points
Top States to Become a Counselor - 2018
Virginia Counselor Average Counselor Salary Number of Counseling Jobs Counseling Job Growth Through 2019
School and Career Counselors $66,310 6,830 +2.6%
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors $48,990 11,190 +3.8% - Substance Abuse Counselors
+4% - Mental Health Counselors
Rehabilitation Counselors $42,500 2,800 +3.8%

Learn more on how to become a counselor in Virginia.

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