You may have been advised to take classes in undergraduate school that align with what you want your job to be or what you want to study in an advanced degree program. On the other hand, you may have heard that a college degree is a college degree; it doesn’t matter what it’s in. Both pieces of advice have merit to them, but both you should consider both carefully. This is especially true in the world of psychology, particularly if you are interested in counseling or behavioral therapy..
Now, if you’re still in college and suddenly deciding on this career path, you probably have a year or two to align your remaining college coursework with your ultimate career aspirations. In terms of becoming a counselor, there are several undergraduate aspects that would be relevant. One is definitely early childhood education, and another is psychology. However, they aren’t the only two. Writers at Teacher Certification Degrees have already published a checklist of what’s required.
The four steps they outline are seemingly straightforward:
(i) earn a bachelor’s degree
(ii) earn a master’s degree
(iii) get supervised work experience
(iv) pass the appropriate exams.
It’s important to note, however, that you’ll first need to apply for, and be admitted into, a graduate program. Don’t underestimate how difficult that can be to accomplish.
Another sound strategy would be to investigate the various counseling specializations available to you. Careers In Psychology published a useful overview highlighting numerous types of professional counseling. Examples include career counselors, child abuse counselors, couples counselors, and mental health counselors. The key point is that there’s absolutely no shortage of unique paths to explore. What matters most is deciding which disorders you want to treat and within which specific populations. Making that decision will have a meaningful impact on your career path.
Let’s say, for instance, that school counseling speaks to you and the notion of helping kids in an educational setting is the most attraction direction. That conclusion would result in a very specific series of next steps and action items. Writers at Teacher Certification Degrees have already done us a favor by outlining them in one consolidated resource, as have the writers at Teach.com who’ve explained that earning a master’s degree in school counseling is mandatory, regardless of the state in which you want to practice. It’s never too early–or too late– to begin considering relevant graduate programs.
Coming to a well-reasoned conclusion won’t be easy. Take the time to categorize and weigh the pros and cons. At the end of the day, having a specific major won’t undermine your career path. That being said, it could prevent you from obtaining the most relevant experience necessary to begin a specific practice. Only you can figure out what career path makes the most sense, given your aspirations. Just be sure to evaluate as many options as possible.
“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln