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Rehab Counselors



What’s needed:

  • In order to work as a rehabilitation counselor in a private facility you must hold a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling
  • If you hold only a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation counseling you may be able to work in a public facility while studying for your master’s degree.
  • Most who aspire to leadership roles in counseling facilities hold a doctorate in counseling or clinical psychology.

What you study:

You will study all of the following in a rehabilitation counseling program:

  • Rehabilitation Counseling Practices
  • Professional Ethics
  • Rehab Counseling Research
  • Rehab Assessment
  • Case Management
  • Psychological Aspects of Disability
  • Medical Aspects of Disability
  • Counseling Practicum

What courses you’ll take

Below are examples of courses that you’ll likely take as a student preparing for a career in rehabilitation counseling.

Introduction to Rehabilitation CounselingHistory of rehabilitation; basic concepts and terminology; structure of the modern vocational (job-related) rehabilitation system; rehabilitation in the context of other mental health professions; general roles and functions of rehabilitation counselors; ethics and legal considerations in the field.Give background knowledge on the rehabilitation profession.
Theory and Practice of CounselingConcepts and principles of human behavior; psychopathology (mental illness) in the context of counseling and rehabilitation; interviewing and evaluating rehabilitation clients; developing and implementing a tailored rehabilitation plan with the goal of enabling a client to return to work.Familiarize students with the process of working with rehabilitation clients.
Disabilities Rehabilitation and EmploymentForms of emotional and behavioral disorders including substance abuse developmental issues emotional disturbances and attention disorders; impact of disabilities on job performance; physical and emotional demands of various types of jobs; assessing and addressing rehabilitation clients’ disability-related difficulties in the workplace.Provide students with an understanding of the ways in which disabilities can interfere with careers.
Psychosocial Aspects of DisabilityVocational structure of society; skill requirements for various jobs; ways in which disabilities can interfere with job performance; impacts of disabilities on family friends and coworkers; helping rehabilitation clients adjust to the culture society and social groups in which they live.Offer students a perspective on disabilities in social life.
Medical Aspects of DisabilityOverview of the medical profession and its relationship with the rehabilitation counseling profession; medical writing style and terminology; basic anatomy and physiology (body function) under healthy unhealthy and disabled conditions; current research and treatment approaches relevant to the rehabilitation field; medical resources for rehabilitation.Get students familiar with medical science’s place in rehabilitation counseling.
Case Management and Career DevelopmentFinding clients in need of rehabilitation; practical logistics of treating a rehabilitation client and guiding him or her toward a productive role in society; advocating on behalf of clients; writing reports; tracking down resources for independent living and other forms of community support.Get students ready to manage a caseload of rehabilitation clients.

Video Overview

Overviews the rehabilitation counselor career. Created for the US Dept. of Labor.

Certifications and Licensing

In order to work as a rehab counselor you must hold a state-issued credential or certificate. Most states require that certificate candidates hold an M.A. degree in rehab counseling and complete up to 3000 supervised clinical hours. You must also pass a background check.

Job Flexibility

Full-time versus part-time:

Most rehab counselors work full-time. Many counselors also work overtime or adjust their schedules to meet client needs. Counselors who are working towards their certification in this field may work part-time schedules in order to fulfill their experience requirements.

Work location:

Rehab counselors can work in both private and public counseling facilities. The type of facility in which you work is largely a matter of personal preference. Many counselors prefer to work for private facilities because they deal with fewer bureaucratic issues than those counselors who work in public facilities.

Recommended Websites

  • U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook for Rehabilitation Counselors: This handbook provides general information about careers in rehab counseling and serves as a good starting point for individuals who are interested in pursuing careers in this field. Prospective counselors should also visit websites that are not statistics-oriented for a holistic view of careers in this field.
  • American Rehabilitation Counseling Association: ARCA’s website includes information about professional conferences awards and continued education in the field. A special section of the site is designed for counseling students and provides a wide variety of career mentorship and learning resources.
  • National Rehabilitation Counseling Association: The NRCA website is geared towards professionals in the counseling field who wish to network and access career boards and professional insurance providers. While the site’s content is geared towards experienced counselors some information is available for students in the field who belong to NRCA chapters nationwide.

Salaries by City

See typical salaries and ranges for this career below Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.

StateCity / RegionTypical SalarySalary RangeJob Count% of All Jobs
AKAnchorage$48190$41K – $71K2000.12%
ALBirmingham – Hoover$38720$25K – $58K1900.04%
ALDothan$36320$17K – $69K500.08%
ALGadsden$$26K – $56K500.13%
ALHuntsville$38050$30K – $58KN/AN/A
ALMobile$$18K – $58K1000.06%
ALMontgomery$42990$25K – $70K1100.07%
ALTuscaloosa$23420$16K – $55K600.07%
ARFayetteville – Springdale – Rogers$32560$20K – $45K400.02%
ARJonesboroN/AN/A – N/A300.06%
ARLittle Rock – North Little Rock – Conway$36710$24K – $59K1300.04%
AZPhoenix – Mesa – Glendale$35740$19K – $48K9200.05%
AZPrescott$37020$31K – $48K500.09%
AZTucson$31270$22K – $53K2000.06%
CABakersfield – Delano$47860$23K – $74K1700.06%
CAEl Centro$34690$20K – $59K1400.27%
CAFresno$31620$18K – $59K4100.13%
CALos Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area)$32680$20K – $60K28800.07%
CAMerced$52380$37K – $60K900.16%
CAModesto$39070$20K – $75KN/AN/A
CANapa$45430$33K – $85K400.06%
CAOakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area)$36160$22K – $86K5200.05%
CAOxnard – Thousand Oaks – Ventura$26960$20K – $47K2100.07%
CARedding$34470$25K – $48K1400.25%
CARiverside – San Bernardino – Ontario$24020$18K – $57K15100.13%
CASacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville$27100$21K – $45K3100.04%
CASalinas$27700$18K – $41K1200.08%
CASan Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos$28730$21K – $56K8200.06%
CASan Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area)$29190$21K – $66K6900.07%
CASan Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara$52980$25K – $100K2600.03%
CASan Luis Obispo – Paso Robles$21050$18K – $35K1300.13%
CASanta Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area)$27310$20K – $45K7500.05%
CASanta Barbara – Santa Maria – Goleta$46950$21K – $70K1700.10%
CASanta Cruz – Watsonville$27620$22K – $43K1500.18%
CASanta Rosa – Petaluma$23670$20K – $63K600.04%
CAStockton$24510$20K – $37K2000.10%
CAVallejo – Fairfield$23840$18K – $64K900.08%
CAVisalia – Porterville$24000$19K – $46K2700.21%
COBoulder$30120$23K – $48KN/AN/A
CODenver – Aurora – Broomfield$31140$23K – $58K9600.08%
COGrand Junction$30330$21K – $59K400.07%
CTBridgeport – Stamford – Norwalk$34640$26K – $64K4700.11%
CTDanbury$34240$24K – $74K1500.23%
CTHartford – West Hartford – East Hartford$44470$27K – $76K6800.12%
CTNew Haven$29950$23K – $64K8200.30%
CTNorwich – New London$37690$26K – $65K1500.12%
CTWaterbury$29900$22K – $48K2700.43%
DCWashington – Arlington – Alexandria (Metro Area)$35080$23K – $62K15000.06%
DEWilmington (Metro Area)$32750$25K – $47K3200.10%
FLCape Coral – Fort Myers$37250$27K – $61K700.04%
FLDeltona – Daytona Beach – Ormond Beach$37470$31K – $56K1600.11%
FLFort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach – Deerfield Beach (Metro Area)$37720$27K – $66K3300.05%
FLGainesville$29230$21K – $48K1000.09%
FLJacksonville$31600$21K – $55K3600.06%
FLLakeland – Winter Haven$29010$25K – $37K1100.06%
FLMiami – Miami Beach – Kendall (Metro Area)$35840$23K – $51K6500.06%
FLNorth Port – Bradenton – Sarasota$32670$17K – $48K1200.05%
FLOcala$35230$29K – $43K800.09%
FLOrlando – Kissimmee – Sanford$34300$26K – $48K3600.04%
FLPalm Bay – Melbourne – Titusville$34680$27K – $45K1300.07%
FLPensacola – Ferry Pass – Brent$29320$18K – $46K1500.10%
FLPort St. Lucie$34720$25K – $46K1000.08%
FLTallahassee$34160$25K – $49K1800.12%
FLTampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater$32270$25K – $47K7200.06%
FLWest Palm Beach – Boca Raton – Boynton Beach (Metro Area)$$27K – $59K2800.06%
GAAtlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta$36280$29K – $53K3300.01%
GAAugusta – Richmond County$34980$26K – $45K900.05%
GAColumbus$30690$21K – $46K400.03%
GAMacon$33190$23K – $46K500.05%
GARome$30680$21K – $47K500.14%
HIHonolulu$33430$18K – $61K1100.03%
IACedar Rapids$27240$20K – $49K1700.12%
IADavenport – Moline – Rock Island$34230$24K – $53K500.03%
IADes Moines – West Des Moines$52290$27K – $74K4700.15%
IADubuque$23330$20K – $36K1600.29%
IAIowa City$24950$20K – $39K2400.28%
IASioux City$34120$26K – $54K700.10%
IAWaterloo – Cedar Falls$33110$21K – $51K900.10%
IDBoise City – Nampa$40400$27K – $51K10600.40%
IDCoeur d’Alene ID$37470$17K – $47K3000.59%
IDIdaho Falls$38860$30K – $52K2200.46%
IDLewiston$46000$34K – $52K500.21%
IDPocatello$45670$32K – $53K500.14%
ILChampaign – Urbana$23080$20K – $32K1000.10%
ILChicago – Joliet – Naperville (Metro Area)$30260$25K – $44K13400.04%
ILLake County – Kenosha County (Metro Area)$28360$19K – $40K1700.05%
ILPeoria$26060$18K – $43K900.05%
ILRockford$31540$18K – $70K600.04%
ILSpringfield$19760$18K – $34K1100.10%
INEvansville$28330$20K – $47K400.03%
INGary (Metro Area)$35110$26K – $64K400.02%
INIndianapolis – Carmel$35200$26K – $62K4100.05%
INSouth Bend – Mishawaka$29260$22K – $38K500.04%
KSTopeka$30770$20K – $41K1000.09%
KSWichita$34880$26K – $70K500.02%
KYBowling Green$28310$17K – $47K1200.20%
KYLexington – Fayette$35180$23K – $50K2200.09%
KYLouisville – Jefferson County$33760$25K – $47K3600.06%
KYOwensboro$35280$27K – $50K800.16%
LABaton Rouge$38050$24K – $62K1100.03%
LALafayette$33280$19K – $54K900.06%
LALake Charles$42570$30K – $57K500.05%
LANew Orleans – Metairie – Kenner$25890$20K – $53K1100.02%
LAShreveport – Bossier City$29490$22K – $47K500.03%
MABarnstable Town$54510$43K – $71K700.08%
MABoston – Cambridge – Quincy (Metro Area)$40340</tdidgewater – Easton (Metro Area)$42930$27K – $68K600.07%
MAFramingham (Metro Area)$40170$25K – $83K1900.12%
MAHaverhill – North Andover – Amesbury (Metro Area)$29650$25K – $53K400.05%
MALawrence – Methuen – Salem (Metro Area)$45590$31K – $70K900.15%
MALeominster – Fitchburg – Gardner$25530$21K – $41K2000.42%
MALowell – Billerica – Chelmsford (Metro Area)$42980$27K – $69K400.04%
MANew Bedford$40060$26K – $63K1300.20%
MAPeabody (Metro Area)$40210$27K – $67K800.08%
MASpringfield$33600$22K – $60K6800.24%
MAWorcester$42240$23K – $68K3200.13%
MDBaltimore – Towson$29620$21K – $63K12300.10%
MDBethesda – Rockville – Frederick (Metro Area)$29680$23K – $44K4100.07%
MDHagerstown – Martinsburg$30160$25K – $48K400.04%