Rehabilitation Counselor Job Description, Career as a Rehabilitation Counselor, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job
Education and Training College plus training
Salary Median—$27,870 per year
Employment Outlook Very good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Rehabilitation counselors work with individuals who have mental, emotional, or physical handicaps, helping them to lead self-sufficient lives both at home and on the job. The counselors determine the training and support their clients need to deal with the personal, social, and vocational effects of their conditions. Rehabilitation counselors are employed by publicly funded agencies, schools, and medical facilities.
After evaluating their clients' strengths and limitations, counselors arrange for rehabilitation programs that may include medical care, occupational therapy, and job placement. To find suitable programs for their clients, counselors study medical and job histories and confer with doctors and therapists. They also talk to the clients and their families.
Education and Training Requirements
Some employers hire counselors with bachelor's degrees in rehabilitation services, counseling, psychology, or related fields. However, many employers require that counselors have master's degrees in rehabilitation counseling, counseling and guidance, or counseling psychology. The Council on Rehabilitation Education accredits graduate programs that include at least two years of study and six hundred hours of experience in supervised clinical internships. An increasing number of employers require that rehabilitation counselors be certified, which requires examinations. Standards were established by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification.
Getting the Job
Because roughly a third of all rehabilitation counselors are employed by public service organizations, vacancies are usually listed in state and federal civil service
bulletins. Volunteer work in the field may provide useful contacts for permanent employment.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Counselors may become directors of rehabilitation programs or self-employed consultants. Employment of rehabilitation counselors is expected to grow faster than the average for all jobs through 2014. Both government and private industry are showing increased commitment to helping individuals with disabilities become members of the workforce. That commitment is likely to spur expanded employment for counselors.
Counselors perform a diverse range of tasks, from preparing marketing presentations for corporations to locating voice boards to help disabled clients speak. Much of their work is in the field, visiting the homes of clients to determine their needs and meeting with business leaders to promote employment and training programs. Some counselors are assigned to the job sites of employees with disabilities to help orient them to the work environment. The job requires patience, perseverance, and initiative.
Earnings and Benefits
In 2004 the median salary for rehabilitation counselors was $27,870 per year, with the most experienced counselors earning more than $48,130 per year.
Rehabilitation counselors who are employed by government agencies or private businesses usually receive paid vacations, holidays, retirement plans, and medical insurance. Self-employed counselors must provide their own benefits.
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