How Much Does a Counselor Make?

How much does a counselor make? For those looking to become a counselor, this question may come up at any time during your pursuit—but the answer depends on a number of factors. As in many fields, each individual counselor salary will vary by state (and even city), specialization, employer, and experience level.

Here are the median salaries for three different types of counselors in 2019, according to September 2020 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Curious for more details? Click here to browse counselor salaries by type and state.

What Does a Counselor Do?

Counselors are helpers. Across specialties and state lines, they empower clients to overcome obstacles—and help to improve their overall quality of life.

Responsibilities in the profession vary from role to role, as well as counseling methods. While some counselors focus on mental health, others have specialties in areas such as addictions, children and adolescents, couples and families, military veterans, and more.

How Do I Become a Counselor?

Here are some common steps you can take to become a counselor:

  • Complete a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree is typically required for most counseling professions.
  • Pursue a master's degree in counseling. Although not always required, online master’s in counseling degree programs help aspiring counselors obtain the professional skills and knowledge necessary for practice.
  • Complete practicum and/or internship hours. Gain real-life experience in the field.
  • Obtain counseling licensure and/or certification. Meet the specific requirements for your state. The process of obtaining licensure varies from state to state so be sure to familiarize yourself with the terms.
  • Choose a counseling career path. Pinpoint what you’re most passionate about—whether that’s school counseling, substance abuse counseling, rehabilitation counseling, or another specialization.
  • Advance your practice through continued learning. Stay on top of innovations in the field, with the goal of providing the best care possible. Completing continuing education credits may be one way to do this. You may also consider Ph.D. programs in counseling, of which there are a wide selection.

Counselor Salary Guide by Type and State

Below, you’ll find a breakdown of the average counseling salaries for various specializations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The pay data in this section is sourced from the BLS. As we’ve already explained, counseling salaries can vary based on several factors, including specialization and qualifications. Qualifications may include the number of years spent working as a counselor, whether or not you have a master’s in counseling, and what types of special certifications you hold.

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Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselor Salary

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselor Salary
State Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Alabama $25.54 $53,120
Alaska $32.32 $67,210
Arizona $24.59 $51,140
Arkansas $25.98 $54,040
California $37.62 $78,250
Colorado $26.23 $54,560
Connecticut $31.68 $65,890
Delaware $32.11 $66,790
Florida $24.14 $50,200
Georgia $27.79 $57,800
Hawaii $29.23 $60,790
Idaho $23.16 $48,170
Illinois $27.24 $56,650
Indiana $24.93 $51,850
Iowa $26.40 $54,910
Kansas $25.10 $52,200
Kentucky $27.66 $57,520
Louisiana $26.68 $55,500
Maine $25.75 $53,570
Maryland $33.84 $70,380
Massachusetts $32.94 $68,520
Michigan $27.63 $57,470
Minnesota $28.42 $59,100
Mississippi $24.38 $50,710
Missouri $24.13 $50,180
Montana $23.04 $47,920
Nebraska $28.83 $59,960
Nevada $27.84 $57,900
New Hampshire $26.76 $55,660
New Jersey $35.18 $73,160
New Mexico $27.65 $57,500
New York $33.12 $68,890
North Carolina $25.17 $52,360
North Dakota $28.72 $59,740
Ohio $27.48 $57,160
Oklahoma $22.34 $46,480
Oregon $30.29 $63,000
Pennsylvania $30.61 $63,680
Rhode Island $30.78 $64,030
South Carolina $26.10 $54,280
South Dakota $21.44 $44,590
Tennessee $25.07 $52,140
Texas $29.07 $60,470
Utah $25.54 $53,120
Vermont $25.98 $54,030
Virginia $32.72 $68,060
Washington $31.51 $65,550
Washington, D.C. $33.08 $68,810
West Virginia $21.45 $44,610
Wisconsin $26.74 $55,610
Wyoming $26.88 $55,910

BLS salary information for Education, Guidance and Career Counselors as of May 2019.

For more information see our guide on how much school counselors make.

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Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselor Salary

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselor Salary
State Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Alabama $20.70 $43,060
Alaska $29.25 $60,830
Arizona $21.68 $45,100
Arkansas $26.57 $55,260
California $26.24 $54,580
Colorado $24.90 $51,790
Connecticut $26.70 $55,530
Delaware $22.66 $47,130
Florida $21.55 $44,820
Georgia $22.62 $47,050
Hawaii $26.59 $55,300
Idaho $23.15 $48,160
Illinois $22.75 $47,320
Indiana $22.05 $45,860
Iowa $25.88 $53,830
Kansas $21.56 $44,850
Kentucky $20.16 $41,940
Louisiana $19.43 $40,410
Maine $26.35 $54,800
Maryland $23.82 $49,550
Massachusetts $22.85 $47,530
Michigan $23.36 $48,580
Minnesota $24.64 $51,260
Mississippi $17.87 $37,170
Missouri $18.65 $38,790
Montana $20.56 $42,770
Nebraska $24.91 $51,820
Nevada $30.73 $63,910
New Hampshire $21.57 $44,870
New Jersey $28.90 $60,120
New Mexico $24.25 $50,430
New York $26.10 $54,280
North Carolina $23.73 $49,350
North Dakota $26.86 $55,860
Ohio $24.05 $50,020
Oklahoma $22.84 $47,510
Oregon $29.31 $60,960
Pennsylvania $22.83 $47,480
Rhode Island $26.38 $54,870
South Carolina $20.01 $41,620
South Dakota $20.52 $42,670
Tennessee $19.00 $39,510
Texas $23.72 $49,330
Utah $32.41 $67,410
Vermont $21.62 $44,970
Virginia $24.81 $51,610
Washington $25.10 $52,200
Washington, D.C. $26.27 $54,640
West Virginia $19.30 $40,140
Wisconsin $21.24 $44,170
Wyoming $25.96 $53,990

BLS salary information for Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors as of May 2019.

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Rehabilitation Counselor Salary

Rehabilitation Counselor Salary
State Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Alabama $21.62 $44,960
Alaska $22.00 $45,760
Arizona $16.41 $34,120
Arkansas $17.52 $36,440
California $17.94 $37,320
Colorado $25.19 $52,390
Connecticut $21.39 $44,490
Delaware $17.05 $35,470
Florida $17.62 $36,640
Georgia $19.50 $40,570
Hawaii $20.87 $43,410
Idaho $19.43 $40,420
Illinois $20.26 $42,130
Indiana $19.34 $40,230
Iowa $18.48 $38,440
Kansas $15.51 $32,250
Kentucky $16.90 $35,150
Louisiana $23.30 $48,460
Maine $23.69 $49,270
Maryland $19.86 $41,310
Massachusetts $20.91 $43,500
Michigan $19.40 $40,360
Minnesota $19.64 $40,860
Mississippi $19.04 $39,610
Missouri $17.88 $37,190
Montana $18.15 $37,760
Nebraska $19.85 $41,290
Nevada $20.17 $41,960
New Hampshire $23.50 $48,870
New Jersey $31.51 $65,540
New Mexico $18.42 $38,310
New York $17.77 $36,960
North Carolina $18.99 $39,490
North Dakota $22.62 $47,060
Ohio $19.41 $40,360
Oklahoma $14.85 $30,880
Oregon $21.44 $44,600
Pennsylvania $19.56 $40,680
Rhode Island $28.71 $59,710
South Carolina $17.73 $36,870
South Dakota $20.88 $43,420
Tennessee $13.62 $28,320
Texas $21.78 $45,300
Utah $19.57 $40,710
Vermont $24.29 $50,530
Virginia $20.94 $43,560
Washington $23.08 $48,000
Washington, D.C. $25.13 $52,270
West Virginia $16.51 $34,330
Wisconsin $15.31 $31,840
Wyoming $19.50 $40,560

BLS salary information for Rehabilitation Counselors as of May 2019.

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Last updated: September 2020.