How to Become a Rehabilitation Counselor
Rehabilitation counselor is the important job position of assisting individuals with disabilities live independent, productive, and fulfilling lives. The clients served by rehabilitation counselors may have developmental challenges or a specific diagnosis such as autism. Rehabilitation counselors help people with physical, mental, developmental, and emotional disabilities live as independently, and work as independently, as possible. Rehabilitation counselors work with clients to empower them to overcome or manage the personal, social, or psychological effects of disabilities on their employment or independent living.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted 28% occupational growth in rehabilitation counseling between 2010 and 2020.
Some rehabilitation counselors work directly with individuals and some are primarily advocates for their clients. A rehabilitation counselor may coordinate transitional services for clients moving from the school system into the work world. A rehabilitation counselor can assist employers, or colleges, with making state-required accommodations to remain in compliance with the people they serve.
The following is a limited list of work environments usually in constant need of rehabilitation counselors: vocational rehabilitation settings, state government facilities, family and individual services, and residential care facilities.
The job prospects for rehabilitation counselors are solid. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average rehabilitation counselor earns a median annual salary of $34,390 and predicts 28% occupational growth between 2010 and 2020.
Rehabilitation Counselor Education and Certification
In some cases you will be able to provide rehabilitation counseling with the completion of an undergraduate education with a degree in a social science or counseling field referred. Although this happens at some facilities, most centers will require you to complete graduate school. One thing you want to make sure of is that you program is accredited by the Commission on Rehabilitation Education and that you complete 600 hours of internship.
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Rehabilitation Counselor Licensure
Credentialing is not a requirement for rehab counselors as much as it is for mental health counselors, but does help with career advancement. In order to be sure what you will be required to complete make sure to check the guidelines in your state as some regions may require more than others.
In most states they will offer rehab counselors the opportunity to become fully licensed professionals, where they will be able to take the general NCE or a more specific rehabilitation exam. The more requirements the candidate completes the more likely they are to becoming a fully licensed counselor, which will allow them to work more independently in the future.
Those counselors who do become certified through the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification will need to renew their license every five years in order to state up to date with their credentials as Certified Rehabilitation Counselors.
As you can see, there are many career paths that can be taken by a rehabilitation counselor. Educate yourself about what is out there and what kind of education and training you need to make your goals a reality.