Accelerated Counseling Degrees Online [2021 Guide]

You’re looking for accelerated counseling degrees online because you value the work of the profession, but 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!

Accelerated Counseling Degree

The counseling role may take you in many different directions: schools, addictions, substance abuse, family and marriage therapy, mental health, and career counseling. Where there are problems or issues to talk through, there are often jobs for counselors.

The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that there will be 25% job growth for counselors through 2029. That is faster than the average of all occupations.

Do you feel a draw toward a field that has you interacting with people every day? Are you the person who others come to for advice? Maybe you’re a good listener. 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.

Types of Accelerated Counseling Degree Programs

Counseling degree programs have many focuses. Some of the most popular are:

  • Bachelor’s in Counseling – Addiction, Chemical Dependency, and Substance Abuse
  • Bachelor’s in Counseling – Christian Counseling
  • Bachelor’s in Counseling – Marriage and Family Counseling
  • Bachelor’s in Counseling – Mental Health Counseling
  • Bachelor’s in Counseling – School Counseling

No matter who you are passionate about helping, there may be a counseling focus that you can take. If you want to specialize even further, maybe you want to think about a doctorate degree in counseling!

Accelerated Counseling Degree Overview

Accelerated Counseling Degree Overview

A counseling degree is a rather new and honestly quite rare degree, especially 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 because although there are jobs you may get with a bachelor’s degree in counseling, you might soon want to pursue your master’s in counseling online or on-campus in order to be licensed. Chances are high that you’ll make more money when you do.

A counseling degree can help prepare you for whichever path you choose with classes like:

  • Co-occurring Disorders and HIV/AIDS
  • Domestic Violence, Child, Elder Abuse
  • Family Dynamics and Communication
  • Foundations of Addiction and Substance Use Disorders
  • Group Interventions and Community Resources
  • Multicultural Counseling in a Diverse Society
  • Professional, Legal and Ethical Issues in Substance Use Disorder Counselors
  • Psychopath and Advanced treatment
  • Trauma and Recovery in Mental Health

Right now, you have a passion to help people. A degree in counseling can help you develop the skills to effectively offer advice and guidance that can steer your clients into making better choices.

Careers with an Accelerated Counseling Degree

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:

  • Addictions Counselor
  • Case Manager
  • Crisis Intervention Specialist
  • Group Home Facilitator
  • Life Coach
  • Rehabilitation Specialist

Of course, getting a Master’s degree in counseling allows you to be licensed and pursue the next level of counseling careers. Examples of what can you do with a masters in counseling are the following:

  • 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.

Job Title Annual Median Salary
Social and Community Service Manager $67,150
School and Career Counselor $57,040
Probation Officer $54,290
Substance Abuse Counselor, Hospitals $49,100
Private Mental Health Counselor $46,090
Behavioral Disorder Counselor, Outpatient Care Centers $44,750
Social Service Specialist $43,790
Addiction Counselor, Residential Facilities $39,690
Rehabilitation Counselor $35,950

Some of these careers are only available to those with a master’s degree in counseling.

The Benefits of Online Accelerated Counseling Degree Programs

Multiple Start Dates: You may start right now. Getting your counseling degree is much more flexible than it previously was. September start dates are a thing of the past. Many online universities throughout North America will offer you start dates every month.

Finish Faster: To get an accelerated counseling degree, you need to get credit for all the required classes. A traditional semester lasts 16 weeks, but you may 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.

Study Anywhere, Anywhen: When you take classes online, you don’t have to move to or live near campus. You don’t have to go to class at a certain time. You study when and where it’s convenient for you!

3 Ways to Accelerate Your Counseling Degree Even More

counseling degree student studying on her laptop comfortably

These 3 ideas can be valuable assets to add to your degree plan because they will save you a lot of time and money.

1. Test Out of College Classes (Save Up to 1 Year)

You don’t have to go to class to get credit. You have the option to register to take almost all of your core classes and electives as credit for exam. Register with the College Level Examination Program, pay $89 for a 3-credit, 100-question, multiple-choice exam. As long as you get 50% right, you get the credit. You might earn 3 credits in less than 2 hours.

Most universities will allow you to earn up to 30 credits by exam. That’s 10 classes that you may knock off your degree by just taking the exam. Even if the course is something you are not familiar with, you may purchase a study guide and learn the material faster than you would in class.

2. Get College Credit for Your Life and Work Experience (Save another Semester!)

Not only can you earn credit without attending class, you might earn credit for your life and work experience. This is called Credit for Prior Learning, and each university has a specific outline of how it works. Typically you can earn credit for:

  • On the job training
  • A course you have taken through work
  • Military experience
  • Volunteer and overseas work

Take advantage of your life experience to potentially earn up to 15 credits from your university. That’s 5 classes you wouldn’t have to pay for or attend.

3. Stay Continuously Enrolled with the Max Course Load

Most people take 12-15 credits per semester, but you can actually take 18 credit hours each semester. Also, there are 3 semesters if you count summer. With 3 rounds of 18 credits, you might earn 54 credits in a year instead of 30. Hard work? Yes. Twice as fast? Also yes.

Bonus: Transferring Your Existing College Credits

You may use the college classes that you took before to meet your counseling degree requirements.

Just check that:

  • You earned at least a C.
  • Your college was accredited.

Even if the class will not fit into your counseling degree, you may still use the credit to fill an elective spot.

Lower Tuition Costs

screenshot of FAFSA website

Currently, Americans owe about $1.6 trillion in student loans, according to Forbes. That is a painful number! And a horrible way to start a new career. To move yourself forward financially, you often need a university degree. But it doesn’t have to cost you as high as the sticker price says it will.

Taking 30 credits by Credit by Exam will cost you $890, and your local testing center may charge a small fee as well. Then, 15 credits earned through Credit for Prior Learning can cost you $1,000-$2,000 for the portfolio assessment, still less than the cost of tuition for those credits.

But your out-of-pocket savings don’t stop there. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what you qualify to receive in grants and loans. Then, research scholarship opportunities from your university and private organizations. If you’re working, talk to your employer about tuition assistance.

Counseling Degree Accreditation

logos of Counseling Degree Accreditors

Counseling is a regulated profession. That means if you want to get a job, be 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:

Your school should also be regionally accredited, so do a little background check on your school before you start and ensure that you’ll be getting a high-quality education.

Wise Counsel Says…

female counselor giving advice to a patient during counseling session in her office

An accelerated counseling degree online may start you on the path to helping people in a professional capacity in hospitals, schools, prisons, homeless shelters, or government agencies. There is a projected booming job market for counselors in the next 10 years.

Decide which Counseling concentration is right for you and apply to 3-5 schools that offer that program. Then, test out of as many classes as you can, get as much credit for prior learning as you can, take as many accelerated classes as you can, and you might finish in as early as 18-24 months.

Joy Cromwelle
WRITTEN BY
Joy Cromwelle
Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration. Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.