How Much Does a Counselor Earn in 2020?

Child counselors work in multiple settings, including private practices, schools, and medical centers. Many states require child counselors to obtain both a professional license and a master’s degree before they can practice. Mental health, rehabilitation, and school counselors and psychologists can choose to focus their work on adolescents and young children. Child counselors help identify issues with thinking patterns and emotions. They also devise methods of managing and overcoming disorders. The average annual salary for most of these professions is above the national average for all occupations, according to the U.S. BLS.

What does a counselor do?

Counselors offer guidance to families, couples, individuals, and groups who are dealing with issues that affect their well-being and mental health. Most counselors approach their work holistically, using a wellness model (as opposed to an illness model), which encourages and highlights the client’s strengths.

On the job counselors:

  • Work with communities, groups, and individuals to improve mental health.
  • Encourage clients to discuss experiences and emotions. 
  • Examine issues including aging, bullying, substance abuse, anger management, depression, careers, LGBTQ issues, relationships, self-image, suicide and stress 
  • Work with families
  • Help clients plan action, define goals, and gain insight.
  • Develop therapeutic processes
  • Refer clients to psychologists and other services
  • Take a holistic (body and mind) approach to mental health care.

How Much Do Counselors Make

School Counselors

School counselors assist students in small-group and private sessions. The aim is to work through troubling emotional, social, and mental issues. School counselors also help students with individual learning plans and study skills. The BLS reports that as of May 2019, the median pay for school counselors was $57,040 per annum.

Counselors working in secondary and elementary schools earned a median of $60,000 annually. Professional school counselors in the bottom ten percent made $34,380 or less. The top-paid earners commanded an average pay of $96,090 or more.(1)

[ Read: Steps to Become a School Counselor ]


Psychologists who specialize in child behavior prefer to work in healthcare facilities or establish their own private practices. Counseling psychologists advise patients about how to cope with behavioral and emotional struggles. Clinical psychologists deliver treatment plans and determine what the problems are. The average pay for clinical counseling and school psychologists was 78,200 as of May 2019, according to the BLS. The median annual pay for all psychologists was $80,370.

Mental Health Counselors

Mental health counselors specialize in treating behavioral and emotional disorders that lead to relationship problems. These types of counselors treat emotional difficulties and mood disorders that stem from traumatic changes. Some mental health counselors opt to work only with children. The median annual income for all mental health counselors, including those who counsel children, was  $46,240  as of May 2019. Counselors working in hospitals and local government agencies saw the highest annual incomes, at 49,100 and $52,720, respectively. The lowest-earning 10 percent made $29,520 or less, while those in the top ten percent earned $76,080 or more.

Rehabilitation Counselors

Rehabilitation counselors may opt to work with disabled children in school habitat. Students consult with rehabilitation counselors to learn ways to manage their lives around their challenges. In May 2019, the median pay for rehabilitation counselors was $35,950. This is moderately less than the average for all professions, according to the BLS. Rehabilitation counselors in the lowest ten percent bracket earned median salaries of $23,820 or less. The highest ten percent earned $63,790or higher.

Careers in Europe: A person working in Counseling in Spain typically earns around 2,970 EUR per month. Salaries range from 1,210 EUR (lowest average) to 4,320 EUR (highest average, the actual maximum wage is higher).

Careers in Asia: An entry-level School Counselor with less than one year experience can expect to make an average total remuneration (includes bonus, tips, and overtime pay) of S$34,392. An early career School Counselor with 1-5 years of experience makes an average total compensation of S$41,206. A mid-career School Counselor with 5-10 years of experience makes an average total compensation of S$46,452. An experienced School Counselor with 10-20 years of experience makes an average total compensation of S$66,000. 

Job Outlook

The U.S. BLS reported that job opportunities for career and school counselors, including high school guidance counselors, were expected to rise by eight percent between 2018 and 2028. In part, this growth was expected due to increasing student enrollments.