Did you know that the term counseling means the giving and receiving of advice and guidance? An accelerated online counseling degree puts you on the giving end of the advice and guidance. That is a powerful role!
The counseling role can take you in many different directions. From schools, addictions, substance abuse, family and marriage therapy, mental health, and career counseling. Where there are problems there are jobs for counselors.
The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that there will be a 20% job growth from 2016-2026. That is faster than the average of other occupations. There are 100s of people who need help and 100s of projected jobs that are being created to address those problems.
Do you feel a draw towards a field that has you interacting with people everyday? Are you the person who others come to for advice? You’re a good listener. Somehow people find that when they talk to you, they walk away feeling like they know better how to address the problems they are facing. If you want to do more with this innate skill, think about an accelerated online degree in counseling.
Accelerated Counseling Degree Programs
A counseling degree is a rather new and honestly quite rare degree. Especially if you are looking at a bachelor’s degree in counseling. Most counselors will often start their education with a bachelor’s degree in psychology or social work. Alternately, an online doctoral degree in psychology (PsyD program), might be a good fit.
If you are looking to become a licensed counselor most states will require you to have a master’s degree. Keep that in mind, although there are jobs you can get with a bachelor’s degree in counseling, you might soon want to pursue your master’s in counseling to be licensed. And make more money.
A counseling degree can prepare you for whichever path you choose with classes like:
- Group Interventions and Community Resources
- Co-occurring Disorders and HIV/AIDS
- Psychopath and Advanced treatment
- Domestic Violence, Child, Elder Abuse
- Professional, Legal and Ethical Issues in Substance Use Disorder Counselors
- Foundations of Addiction and Substance Use Disorders
- Multicultural Counseling in a Diverse Society
- Trauma and Recovery in Mental Health
- Family Dynamics and Communication
Right now you have a passion to help people. A degree in counseling can give you the skills to effectively offer advice and guidance that can steer your clients into making better choices.
Careers with an Accelerated Counseling Degree
You know that a bachelor’s degree is your first step when pursuing a career in counseling. But it is up to you how long you want to stay on that first step. With just a bachelor’s degree you could be looking at a career as a:
- Case Manager
- Crisis Intervention Specialist
- Rehabilitation Specialist
- Addictions Counselor
- Group Home Facilitator
- Life Coach
- Clinical Counseling Supervisor
- Eating Disorder Therapist
- Group Therapist
- Marriage and Family Therapist
- Mental Health Counselor
- School and Career Counselor
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that “employment growth is expected as people continue to seek addiction and mental health counseling.” More and more people are realizing the need for counseling as they encounter disruptions and trauma in their lives.
|Mental Health Counselor*||$42,840|
|Substance Abuse Counselor||$41, 070|
|Social Service Specialist||$43,020|
|Behavioral disorder Counselor||$42,150|
|Private Practice Counselor*||$39,130|
|School and Career Counselor*||$54,560|
|Social and Community Service Managers||$64,680|
*require a Master’s degree
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Where are you thinking you want to go with a counseling degree? The options are many! This is why it makes sense to be able to complete your bachelor’s degree quickly and without a truckload of student debt. A bachelor’s degree is the easiest degree to accelerate, so don’t waste your time and money on the first step. Get it done right and get it done quickly!
Accelerated Counseling Degree Programs Offer Year-Round Admissions
You could start right now. Seriously, getting your counseling degree is much more flexible than it previously was. September start dates are a thing of the past.
Many online (and even traditional) universities throughout North America will offer you start dates every month.
Take advantage of that! You can start when it works best for you. If you are working and you know that the summer is a quieter time in your job, you can take classes then. Or maybe there is a lull over November and December. You don’t have to imagine what you would do with a counseling degree. You could start your counseling degree now.
Accelerated Counseling Degree Programs Online – Accelerated Classes vs. Self-Paced Classes
Excuse me for being Captain Obvious. To get an accelerated counseling degree you need to get credit for all the required classes. I know, I know! Obvious but the secret behind saving time and money is HOW you get that credit.
The classes you need for your degree won’t change. But you can choose to complete your classes online using an accelerated or self-paced format. 2 paths to the same goal.
Accelerated classes are like a marked path with a starting line, markers (assignments) to complete by set times and a finish time you must meet. A self-paced class only gives you a starting line and a finish line. You can decide how you get there.
Option 1: Accelerated Online Counseling Classes
Honestly completing an Intro to Counseling class in a traditional school is like a meandering nature walk. It feels like it takes you forever to get from point A to B. 16 weeks to complete 3 credits! Here’s my advice, sometimes nature walks are nice but if your goal is to get somewhere quickly you want to sprint.
You can complete an accelerated online class in 6-8 weeks. You still learn all the same material you need to know, you complete insightful assignments and the class shows up the same on your transcript. But you’re done twice as fast. You can use your extra time to stop and have a coffee OR you can pick up another accelerated class right away and be done 2 classes in 16 weeks.
Option 2: Self-Paced Online Counseling Classes
Do you prefer to forge your own path? You can still do that. Self-paced classes are for those of you that thrive best under your own taskmaster. Instead of steadily completing classes every 6-8 weeks, you can register for a semester at a school like Capella University. You pay $2300 for the 12 weeks and you fill that time with as many courses as you can manage.
Self-paced classes are a brilliant option for completing electives. You don’t really want to waste time with composition, math, sciences, and humanities. Even your introductory classes could be knocked off in those 12 weeks. Then you can choose to slow the pace and enjoy the classes you want to take!
Types of Accelerated Counseling Degree Programs
Counseling degree programs have as many focuses as there are problems. If you can think of a problem that somebody has, there is probably a counseling degree that addresses that. Take a minute (or more) to think about what issues you are drawn to help people with, then find that counseling degree in this list:
- Bachelor’s in Counseling – Addiction, Chemical Dependency and Substance Abuse
- Bachelor’s in Human Services – Youth & Family Services
- Master’s in Professional Counseling
No matter who you are passionate about helping, there is a counseling focus that you can take. If you want to specialize even further maybe you want to think about a doctorate degree!
3 Ways to Accelerate Your Counseling Degree Even More
Remember Captain Obvious told you that you must get credit for all the classes you need for your counseling degree? But how you get those credits is your secret to success. These 3 ideas are valuable assets to add to your degree plan because they will. Save. You. Time. A lot of time.
1. Test out of college classes (up to 1 year)
Think outside the box. You don’t have to go to class to get credit. You have the option to register to take almost all of your electives as credit for exam. If you feel like you know your stuff already than register with the College Level Examination Program, pay $85 for a 3 credit 90 question multiple choice exam. As long as you get 50% right, you get the credit. You could earn 3 credits in less than 2 hours. That is amazing savings!
Most universities will allow you to earn up to 30 credits by exam. Meaning there are 10 classes that you could knock off your degree by just writing the exam. Even if the course is something you are not familiar with, you can purchase a study guide and cram like crazy. Write the exam and get your credit.
2. Get college credit for your life and work experience
Not only can you earn credit without attending class, you can earn credit for your life and work experience. This is called Credit for Prior Learning and each university has a specific outline on how it works. Typically you can earn credit for:
– on the job training like an early childhood education certification
– a course you have taken through work such as human resources
– military experience
– volunteer and overseas work
If you got it, flaunt it! Well don’t flaunt it but take advantage of your life experience to earn up to 15 credits from your university. That’s 5 classes you don’t have to pay for or attend.
3. Stay continuously enrolled with max course load
Most of these tips involve sneaking out of class like an irresponsible freshman (but actually getting credit for the class because you are a responsible genius). This last tip shows you how to get the maximum number of classes done in a semester.
Take all the classes you can. You know like when you are at a holiday buffet. Most people put a reasonable amount of little crab cakes and chocolate covered strawberries on their plate. We all know you can fit a lot more on those little plates!
Instead of putting 15 credits on your semester. You can take 18 credit hours each semester. And don’t be polite and only do 2 semesters a year. There are 3 semesters if you count summer. 3 rounds of 18 credits will earn you 54 credits in a year. Hard work? Yes. Twice as fast? Also yes.
Transferring Your Existing College Credits
Any credit that you have previously earned from an accredited college is still golden. Don’t waste it. You can use the college classes that you took before to meet your counseling degree requirements.
Just check that:
- You weren’t an irresponsible freshman and you earned at least a C
- Your college was accredited
- The class will fit into your new degree
But you can be flexible with that last point. Even if the class will not fit into your counseling degree you can still use the credit to fill an elective spot. Fewer classes to attend.
Lower Tuition Costs
Currently Americans owe over $750 billion in student loans. That is a painful number! And a horrible way to start a new career. Many people will go with the mindset that the easiest way to avoid student debt is to either:
- Have rich parents
- Win the lottery
- Don’t pursue higher education
Not very reasonable options. To move yourself forward financially you will often need a university degree. But it doesn’t have to cost you $194,840 like at John Hopkins University for a 120 credit 4 year degree.
You can get a degree without winning the lottery or having rich parents and without amassing a 6-figure debt load. Instead of paying for each class you be smart and take fewer classes.
30 credits by Credit by Exam will cost you $850 instead of $48,000. 15 credits earned through Credit for Prior Learning can cost you $1000-2000 instead of $24,000. That’s how you get your degree without drowning in debt. Play smart and play hard.
What works so well with this approach is that you can apply it to whatever university you attend. There is no reason why you need to pay full price for all 120 credits in your counseling degree. Many universities, like Liberty University, will be more generous in granting credit which saves you even more money.
Counseling Degree Accreditation
Counseling is a regulated profession. That means if you want to get a job, get licensed or go on to a master’s degree you have to make sure that your bachelor’s degree is from an accredited college. Accreditation is a process that your school goes through to receive an official designation that recognizes the school’s credibility.
For you, it means you aren’t wasting your time or money on a fake degree.
Some of the accreditors to look for with a counseling degree are:
- APA Commission on Accreditation
- Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
- Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
- Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
- American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT)
Even without national accreditation, your school will still be recognized if it is regionally accredited. So do a little background check on your school before you start. That will also save you time and money!
Everybody says to you “you should be a counselor, you are so good at helping people with their problems.” Well, you can.
An accelerated counseling degree online can start you on the path to helping people in a professional capacity. Whether in hospitals, schools, prisons, homeless shelters or government agencies. There is a projected booming job market for counselors in the next 9 years.
Where are you going to be in that job market? Still thinking of how you could eventually get your degree in counseling?
Or will you buckle down now and in 18 months be holding your bachelor’s degree ready for an entry level job or starting your master’s degree.
The choice is yours. It doesn’t have to cost you almost $200,000 and it doesn’t have to take 4 years.
There is a need for trained counseling professionals and that could be you. Are you ready to take your own advice and get started?