Forum Archives

Return to Forum List

getting a degree/ becoming a counselor questions

You are not logged in. Login here or register.

Pages: 1 · 2

GraceisGood posted 7/21/2013 11:08 AM

Hello All, I am looking for any and all information/advice, etc. Regarding going back to school to get my degree in psychology and possibly becoming a counselor.

First I need 60 units (already have just over 60 done from 25 years ago), should take 2 years, I have been quoted $38,000 through Phoenix university. At the end I will have a BS. Is this "average" in cost?? Should I shop around, is it worth my time (I am working two jobs right now, time is limited).

Also, once I have this degree, what are some ideas of what types of jobs I could use this degree in (I have some ideas, but would love to hear things I have not thought up yet, inside and outside the box).

How hard is it to become a counselor? What all is involved for those who are? School is no problem for me, but do I have to practice under someone for a time, etc? Is is all based upon my particular states rules or something else? What are areas of counseling I might not be aware of?

I just know that I enjoy this area of study, I study it on my own constantly as it is so think it will be a good choice for a degree.

I am gonna be at work today, so might not be able to respond until later, but again, I appreciate all thoughts on this, positive, negative, all of it. (ps, my work right now is very physical, and I am getting old lol, using my mind to make a living sounds wonderful :)


sad12008 posted 7/21/2013 11:38 AM

First, when you say "Phoenix university", are you talking about the for-profit school? My personal bias is to be exceptionally leery of such institutions...definitely do some in-depth consumer research on that.

An undergraduate degree in psychology, IMO, is about as employable as an undergraduate degree in sociology, political science, etc. You need an advanced degree to really work in the field, a minimum of a Master's and preferably a doctorate these days.

Academic work for counselor education at the graduate level includes both classroom and practicum experiences. In addition to meeting requirements of the graduate school for the degree, you must meet your state's LICENSURE requirements in order to practice. Thus, degree in hand, you must do supervised work or similar for a fair amount of time (a 'fair amount' being defined as far more than you'd imagine!). Go to your state government licensure website to find that kind of information.

I worked in higher education on the non-academic dean career track for quite a few of years (I was fasttracking but got a bit burned out on college students...). That's one career field where a counseling degree w/added concentrations in higher ed administration or the like can be utilized.

School-based counselors, career counseling, etc. are other areas in addition to IC, MC, and family therapy.

All require their own core courses, last I knew.

Many schools will not accept coursework from >10 years ago, as an aside....I learned that unexpected information many years ago when I thought I'd finish up a second bachelor's degree I was within a half-dozen credit hours of completing (I couldn't take the required course in my last semester and couldn't afford to not launch w/my bachelor's at the 4 year mark.)

I feel it's unethical for schools to tout degrees which leave the graduate unable to make enough money upon graduation to repay student loans (or pay rent, buy Ramen, etc). Periodically there'll be stories about 'worst majors', and psy majors in various incarnations always seem to make the list. Here's a sample:

Hope this is helpful. I proselytize now as I wish someone had told me back as a college freshman that I could still apply to medical school with majors other than what my university called "pre-med". There are fields where you can turn down job offers, and there are fields where you're begging for crumbs. My husband's undergrad degree put him in the former category, while mine put me in the latter; just adding a few courses to his program (in lieu of other electives) would've properly positioned me for med school (which I later changed my mind on anyway!) AND allowed me to be wildly employable. Look at employability and work backwards from there.

LadyQ posted 7/21/2013 13:54 PM

Check out and local community city college for online courses as well. My first two years are through my local community college, then I'll transfer to a 4 year school to finish. All online. And the cost at the CC is only about 6,000 a year. I'm getting a bachelor's in psych, but actually transferring to a different program for my master's.

LadyQ posted 7/21/2013 13:57 PM

Also, watch your course load. I work full-time and have two kids at home still, one a very active teen. I find taking more than 9 hours a semester to be too much, time-wise. Full time is 12 to 15 hours.

jrc1963 posted 7/21/2013 14:14 PM

You would need a minimum of a Master's degree to be a school guidance counselor in our school district.

Just so you know...

Also, as each school usually only has one guidance counselor if they have any at all... it can be difficult to secure a spot.

As for IC/MC/private practice I believe a Master's is also the minimum and a Doctorate is preferred.

Not sure about career counseling or industrial counseling....

As for University of Phoenix, I have a friend who went there... doing most of her course work online... and she could never seem to get finished. Kept getting road blocks. (could've been her not them, I don't know for sure)

Good Luck.

bbee posted 7/21/2013 14:21 PM

Earlier in the year, University of Phoenix was having some accreditation issues.

I would steer clear of them.

LadyQ posted 7/21/2013 15:11 PM

Like jrc, our district is Master's for school counselor, plus two years of classroom teaching.

Lionne posted 7/21/2013 15:35 PM

NJ also requires a MA for school counselors but has dropped the classroom experience; too many retirements and too few people to replace them. That's the good news. The bad news is that many schools are dropping their counselors altogether.

Private counselors can set up their shingle with just a BA/BS but don't get accreditation without the MA/MS.

Most colleges offer course online nowadays. I don't know how the costs equate.

But good luck to you. I think you should go for it one way or another. May not be U of Phoenix, but do it in some way!

sisoon posted 7/21/2013 15:48 PM

The for-profit schools spend a very high proportion of their revenue on non-educational areas like marketing and relatively little on education. Local state-supported schools are typically a much better option.

In Illinois, typically Master's level work is required, except for a Psychologist, who needs a Ph.D.

GraceisGood posted 7/21/2013 18:55 PM

Thank you all for the information, I greatly appreciate it. I have been out of the "system" for so long, I really have no idea how it works.

I do not necessarily NEED a degree in psychology, I just need some sort of BS to be able to apply for jobs to make a decent amount, cannot survive off $10 an hour. Even though I am highly skilled in secretarial/office,clerical/receptionist, I have not even gotten an interview and I "feel" it is because I do not have my degree (I could get my AA, have enough credits for that, just never took the final step to get the paper that says I have one and frankly I do not think that would be enough to get me the interviews I need.

Any idea what degree would be best for my situation, I do not have a "dream" job or career, I just want to make a decent wage and have benefits as I get older, I give my all at work and would like to have that reflected in salary (I would be content with 2500 take home, 3000 would make me ecstatic, I am not shooting for the moon I feel, am I?) I am willing to "pay my dues" and get that degree this society seems to think we all must have but a masters is too much IMO especially when I do not have that "dream" in mind.

I have spoken with my local CC and they are only concerned with me getting $$ for school, not interested in helping me figure out what I need or a direction. I was very disappointed. My old CC from 25 years ago, was more helpful, but they are in another state.

AARRGGHH being a stay at home mom has bit me in the butt!!


LadyQ posted 7/21/2013 19:28 PM

There's a website (sorry I can't think of the name of it right now) that shows trending careers. Maybe check out fields that are in high demand within your salary requirements, and see what interests you.

kernel posted 7/21/2013 19:35 PM

Look into Western Governor's University. It offers a lot of online programs, it's a lot cheaper than Phoenix and it's regionally accredited. I'm not sure how your credits would transfer with them, but it might be worth a look.

eta: they are non-profit.

[This message edited by kernel at 8:08 PM, July 21st (Sunday)]

StrongerOne posted 7/21/2013 20:42 PM

Check out your closest state university. The AA degree may not help you get job interviews, but it may get you gen Ed credits for a four year university, State university systems may have an articulation agreement with the community college system in the state (that is how it works in North Carolina, for instance). I would meet with a professor or advisor in the graduate counseling or counselor Ed program at the university for advice about undergraduate degrees, requirements for admission to graduate programs, requirements for counseling licenses and so on for your state.

BTW, you should also look into $ available for women returning to school. I think the AAUW (American Assoc of university women) has scholarships, and there are certainly others. Ask at the college/university financial aid office.

I do encourage you to talk with folks at the college/unvsity level about transferring credits from community college, I LOVE comm colleges and think they do important work to equalize access to education, BUT they do not always have the most up to the minute info on what the college/ university will accept for transfers. Be sure to get the info from the horses mouth... go girl! It's awesome that you're setting this goal and making it happen.

sad12008 posted 7/21/2013 21:13 PM

How are you in sciences? Passable? A great, employable helping field is rehab. Physical therapy assistant (PTA) or occupational therapy assistant programs will give you a highly employable, well-paying, helping career track. PT tends to be a little more physical than OT. See if there's a program near you...there's definitely a psych component in both fields, and both are definitely in the 'helping others' category.

monarchwings posted 7/21/2013 21:46 PM

No on the for profit univerities. Their classes do not transfer to an accredited university.

I sense part of your issue is figuring out what you want to be when you grow up. To do that find people you admire and ask them. You will find some people to be helpful and the rest will be too busy to repond.
I suggest signing up for LinkedIn and search the careers that interest you. You will get invites to upgrade for free periodically. Message people that interest you and ask for a phone interview. Then find questions and ask.

Find a good work faith ministry. Its for those looking for a job and often retired people who are counselors. They have guest speakers and offer classes on how to job hunt and interview. It will help build confidence.

Its about finding people who will tell you what the job is really like.

I am sure the SI community would be a great resourse.

Maybe you could explore being an interpretor for the def. I have a friend who does that for a school district. I was surprised to find it is only a 2 year degree. It sounds interesting to me.

Finally, I found guidance counselors are not helpful in that they do not think outside of the box. They wont spend time exploring different interests with you. You have to in with a specfic set of questions and ask more questions.

Good luck and remember its all about networking. I went to work after being a SAHM. I finished my degree in communications during that time. I had to take what I could get..I could only get an interview by contacting people I knew within a company and asking them to pass my resume along to the hiring manager. This is a transitionary job.. I am looking for a new job now.

If I can do this so can you....

jrc1963 posted 7/21/2013 23:15 PM

I didn't read all this... but a BS alone will probably not get you far in today's job market.

GraceisGood posted 7/22/2013 08:30 AM

Thanks again for all the info.

It is back to the drawing board to figure this all out, but at least I now have some ideas and directions thanks to you all here


abbycadabby posted 7/22/2013 09:27 AM

There's a website (sorry I can't think of the name of it right now) that shows trending careers. Maybe check out fields that are in high demand within your salary requirements, and see what interests you.

Is it the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook?

Grace- I have a BS in Psychology and am now obtaining a Master of Social Work through an in-state, accredited university online. With this degree, I can become a counselor after I've been supervised for 2 years and pass a licensure exam. I'm fairly sure that counselors have to be supervised for a certain time period, and if memory serves me correctly, you have to pay the supervising counselor for his/her time?? Someone will correct me if I'm wrong, I'm sure.

Have you checked universitites in your state for their online degree options? I'm saying "in-state" because if you enroll in an out-of-state university, you are charged a higher tuition.

Good luck. If there's anything I can help with, I'd be happy to assist. Shoot me a PM.

[This message edited by abbycadabby at 9:33 AM, July 22nd (Monday)]

abbycadabby posted 7/22/2013 09:31 AM

Oh, and $38,000 for 60 hrs seems expensive to me. I might be wrong.

itainteasy posted 7/23/2013 11:12 AM

My psychologist told me that to be a licensed therapist/counselor you need at least a master's degree in psych or social work.

She said then you work with an already practicing therapist for a number of "intern hours" before you're allowed to treat patients on your own.

My psychologist has her doctorate, she said you don't NEED to go that far, but you definitely get paid better if you do. (you'd have to, to pay off the student loans!).

Good luck!

Pages: 1 · 2

Return to Forum List

© 2002-2018 ®. All Rights Reserved.