The healthcare industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States. An increased focus on preventive care, starting at childhood age levels, has placed additional focus on health education, fitness and self and physician directed examinations. Americans not only want to live longer, they also want to enjoy a higher quality of life as they age. To meet this demand, some employers partner with healthcare professionals to provide healthcare screenings, training seminars and fitness programs for their employees.
Community and government funded organizations also partner with healthcare professionals to provide training documents, brochures and advice to area residents. Many of these partnerships aim to lower the healthcare costs at individual and group levels. To provide trained staff to keep these partnerships working smoothly, organizations are increasing the numbers of healthcare workers they employ. Another reason that healthcare is one of the fastest growing job industries in the United States, despite preventive care efforts, is because as the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports in its November 2008 “Healthcare” report, “The number of older people, who are much more likely than younger people to need nursing care, is projected to grow rapidly.”
Mental health counselors play a vital role in providing ongoing patient care. Counselors work in schools, helping students to adjust to life changes, bullying and family trauma. Schools often employ the professionals as student counselors. In this regard, the counselors may also work with students to help them make college and career choices.
Specific functions counselors fill include helping students and adults address and overcome social and behavioral challenges, equip clients with tools to overcome addictions, including alcohol and drug addictions, and identify and report incidents of abuse. In addition to working at schools and medical facilities, mental health counselors can also start private practices.
Some employers require mental health counselors to have at least a Master’s degree. Types of degrees available to mental health counselors include a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Bachelor of Science in Counseling, Master of Science in Psychology, Master of Science in Counseling and a Doctorate of Science in Psychology. Before they start working at schools and in many private practices, some states require counselors to pass licensing examinations.
Strong communication, interpersonal, critical thinking and problem solving skills help mental health counselors to succeed at their jobs. The median annual income school and career counselors earned as of 2010 was $53,380. Additionally, there were 281,400 school and career counselor jobs in the United States as of 2010. The BLS expects an additional 53,400 jobs to be created for counselors from 2010 through 2020, representing a 19 percent job growth rate.