The realities of the job market for master's level practitioners

PizzaButt

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I am a career changer who has been diligently researching the fields and marketability of the degrees in community counseling and MSW. I have talked to a number of recent grads and practitioners in the field--both LPCs and LCSWs. I know I would love the coursework in the master's in counseling programs (more so than MSW programs), but it seems like MSW job opportunities are greater.

What have you found in terms of the marketability of both degrees? I have looked at job boards and studied the job postings for both LPCs and LCSWs. Many of these jobs are with youth, drug/alcohol addicted clients, prisoners, and the homeless. I'm not really interested in working with any of the above populations. I guess I'd be more interested in employee-assistance positions, career/vocational counseling, working at a general mental health agency/behavioral health, and undergrad career counseling. But I never seem to see ads for these types of positions.
 

WannaBeDrMe

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I am a former employment counselor so I got used to looking @ market stats a LONG time ago... ok, well, only 7 years ago... but still...

It totally depends on where you are located. Your best bet if you are trying to predict your trends is to evaluate your state's dept of health and uman services site... Read through updates, search local news papers for articles about the healthcare, education, or mental health system (whereever it is you want to work)... and BELIEVE WHAT YOU READ...

I think people tend to under-estimate predictive trends and it really upsets me when they act all surprised when things fall apart!

Some markets are booming but it varies... when I finished grad school... the North East was super hot on fire... now, however, my friends from NE programs are down here... b/c they couldn't find what they wanted up there...

In my state, the market is collapsing and is in complete and utter chaos, this is no exaggeration, there are at least 5 horrible stories about us in the state's largest paper every week... 7 years and counting... no signs of improvement yet

in bordering states, things are more stable

you are wise to consider the market... also consider the coursework, as you mentioned

that can vary depending on what kind of counseling program you choose...

there only tend to be 2 types of social work programs (with a few more tracks inside those) clinical or generalist

with counseling... you can have pastoral, clinical, community, health, marriage and family, school, educational, higher ed, adult, vocational, career, etc...

just go to the schools you are interested in and read their curriculum... it should all be available

good luck and be well!
 

WannaBeDrMe

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oh yeah, i went so off on my rant i didn't even answer your question

i see tons of ads for tose positions in my market... but most require a specific curriculum

as for the populations... people rarely specialize rigt out of school... you will see a little of everyone if you work in a counseling center... once you get your license, yuo can try to focus in a speciality area wit what you've learned if you like... but behavioral health is so intertwined twisted tat it's hard to tease apart people's issues to say you'll never have to work with those populations... even if your client is your chosen population, they will still have families who fit the other categories and might eventually play into your treatment decisions

the EAP/voc/school stuff... all have specific type programs... example adult counseling, rehabilitation counseling, and school counseling...

a general counseling degree would prob work too but i don't know, b/c im in that field... on the whole, in my area, counseling is the catch all for a multitude of speciality curriculums... so the LPC license encompasses a BROAD range of individuals with very different skill sets... IF they choose to be licensed... i don't even think that school counselors or voc rehab counselors can get their lpc through that job, but i'm not certain...

good luck
 
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Rapunzel

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In my state, I know that school counselors and voc rehab counselors are not able to count that for lpc licensure, although they can take about a year's worth (or less) of classes to re-specialize, and after approved internship work in counseling they can then be on track for lpc.

Master's level counseling is a growing field here, and sometimes I have to explain what my degree is because not everyone understands it (among those hiring for therapist positions). But it is catching on fast. My opinion is that the training is better for doing mental health therapy, as we get more coursework specifically on mental health treatment, assessment, and diagnosis than MSW programs generally include. The emphasis is different. But for insurance and reimbursment purposes in my state, the MSW is accepted by more insurance programs, etc. Medicare doesn't recognize LPC yet here (Medicaid does).

Having almost finished my master's degree in mental health counseling (my class graduated but I elected to extend internship because my advisors think that the state licensing, which recently got more picky just in the last few months, would not accept one of my internship sites), I'm job hunting. As a student intern it is tough to find a job. Quite a few places told me to come back when I have my CPCI. I'm also concerned that training programs may be producing more of us than the market will support. It seems that I (and my class) have had a much tougher time finding even volunteer internship placements, let alone paid jobs, compared to students a year or two ahead of us. But that might be the current economy too. Maybe it is hitting everybody.
 

PizzaButt

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Having almost finished my master's degree in mental health counseling (my class graduated but I elected to extend internship because my advisors think that the state licensing, which recently got more picky just in the last few months, would not accept one of my internship sites), I'm job hunting. As a student intern it is tough to find a job. Quite a few places told me to come back when I have my CPCI. I'm also concerned that training programs may be producing more of us than the market will support. It seems that I (and my class) have had a much tougher time finding even volunteer internship placements, let alone paid jobs, compared to students a year or two ahead of us. But that might be the current economy too. Maybe it is hitting everybody.
Can you explain the difference between a master's in mental health counseling vs. community counseling? I have seen far more community counseling programs than mental health counseling, and my understanding is that the difference is that CC is 48 credits, whereas MHC is 60 credits and has a longer internship. Is that correct?

Also, what is a CPCI?
 

Rapunzel

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Those extra credits are the difference, as I understand it. In some states the 60 credits are required for licensure. There are just a few more classes required for the mental health counseling degree, that would not be included in the 48 credits program. In some states you would be fine, but in others you couldn't get licensed. We only have the 60 credit requirement in my state, so I don't know much about the community counseling degree.

CPCI is (in my state - not sure how they do it in other states) the provisional license given after completing the master's degree and before completing the two years and 4000 hours required to be fully licensed as an LPC. It stands for certified professional counselor intern. CPCIs can do everything an LPC can do, but must be employed by someone who can provide supervision. LPCs can practice independently. Sort of like CSW is to LCSW.
 
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PizzaButt

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Those extra credits are the difference, as I understand it. In some states the 60 credits are required for licensure. There are just a few more classes required for the mental health counseling degree, that would not be included in the 48 credits program. In some states you would be fine, but in others you couldn't get licensed. We only have the 60 credit requirement in my state, so I don't know much about the community counseling degree.
In my state, one also needs 60 credits to get licensed as an LPC, however there are no mental health counseling programs. There are a bunch of master's in community counseling programs, however, those only are 48 credits. One must make up the difference by either taking the remaining credits at your program or buffet style at other universities. However, one would still have a "community counseling" degree despite having to get those extra credits to reach 60. I've looked at some other states, and they all seem to require 60 credits.
 
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