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What does a Youth Counselor do?

If you have a desire to help young people and find that they naturally open up to you, then you may be well-suited for a career as a youth counselor. Guiding young people during times of change and challenge can be a fulfilling professional experience that rewards you with much more than a paycheck.

Youth counselor job duties

While there are many career paths you can take as a youth counselor, your primary goal is to ensure young people's emotional and physical well-beings and help them navigate life's challenges.

Depending on your specialty, you may assist youth with school or employment issues, trauma, mental health disorders, substance abuse, disabilities, or a combination of these.

Job duties generally include meeting with youth and sometimes their families, scheduling and overseeing activities, completing required paperwork, and advising and meeting with social workers and other professionals. You may work alone or as part of a team that includes teachers, psychologists, and social workers.

Potential youth counselor career paths

A variety of career paths exist for those interested in becoming a youth counselor. You have the opportunity to work in several settings, including schools, group homes, correctional facilities, hospitals, government agencies, and private practice. You may choose to work with at-risk youths in a residential setting, which often involves substance-abuse and mental-health counseling. Such a position usually requires that you oversee individual and group counseling sessions, which may bring up a variety of issues, including depression, stress, and family problems.

As a youth counselor at an educational institution such as a high school or college, you are likely to address issues surrounding academic and career challenges, although other topics may arise. Rehabilitation counselors address the emotional and physical requirements of children with special needs.

Youth counselor educational requirements

Your training to become a youth counselor entails instruction in recognizing client concerns and identifying the appropriate treatment.According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, education requirements vary from state to state, but the career generally requires a master's degree.

Counselor programs are located in the education, psychology or human services department of universities and colleges. Fields of specialized study offered can include subjects such as gerontological counseling, substance abuse, and college student affairs. Most accredited master's degree programs require 48 to 60 semester hours of graduate study that includes a period of supervised counseling.

Youth counselor career outlook

The youth counseling profession is expected to grow faster than average in coming years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the career in general to average a 14 to 19 percent increase. Counselors specializing in substance abuse and behavioral disorders can expect a 20 percent rise in available jobs.

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