4 Types of Counselling Jobs

Those looking at becoming counsellors are in luck. With a wide range of career options available and the ability to specialise in different areas, counselling provides a great career pathway for anyone interested in mental health.

If you demonstrate great listening skills, are empathetic and want to make a difference in the lives of others then counselling can be your career calling. From drug/alcohol counselling to family health, find out what is needed to get a job as a counsellor and how you can turn that job into a rewarding career.

Is a counsellor the same as a therapist?

The terms counsellor and therapist are often used interchangeably, yet there is a difference. While both professions help people to work through mental health and life challenges, the main difference between a counsellor and a therapist is their education and accreditation requirements. Therapy and psychotherapy are highly regulated in Australia while counselling is not. Despite this, both professions provide similar treatments and practices.

Typically, a counsellor focuses on immediate mental health issues such as processing grief and anger, building confidence or communication skills, and building better interpersonal relationships. A counselling session is generally shorter than a therapy session as they don’t go deep into a patient’s past. Counsellors can help to treat the following:

  • Marital and relationship issues
  • Family issues
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Anger management
  • Behavioural problems
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Loss and grief
  • Self-esteem

Counselling career pathways

Counsellors can be employed to work with individuals, couples, families and groups. They can also specialise in a certain area such as marriage counselling or family therapy. As a counsellor, you can be employed by an institution such as a school or as an independent counsellor working from your own practice. Some counsellor career choices include:

1. Mental health worker

Counsellors can work with children, teens or adults to help them navigate their mental health. Some common mental illnesses counsellors work with include anxiety disorder, bipolarity, borderline personality disorder, depression, PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and eating disorders.

2. School counsellor

School counsellors are often employed by a school or educational institution to help provide students with on-site mental health care. School counsellors will work with all year levels and ages and help students work through issues such as stress, bullying, low self-esteem, disabilities, social anxiety, challenging home or personal life issues and poor academic performance.

3. Rehabilitation counselling

Counsellors can be employed to help client’s work through their rehabilitation after an illness or workplace injury. They will help a client to navigate their emotional, physical and mental responses to an injury and help them to overcome these issues.

4. Financial counselling

Financial counsellors help people facing financial stressors such as debt or bankruptcy – allowing them to better manage their mental health and develop coping strategies to work through their money issues and the effects it has on their day to day health.

Qualifications needed 

If you’re looking to explore counselling as a career option, the best way to get started is with a Diploma of Counselling.

Generally just one year in length, a counselling diploma will provide you with the necessary skills and accreditation to work as a professional counsellor or to start your own counselling practice.

If you want to work in a specialised field of counselling, you may have to enrol in other relevant courses, and some practices may also require a Bachelor’s Degree. That said, a formal Diploma in Counselling is an important and necessary step to working as a professional counsellor in Australia.

Counselling demand in Australia

Job demand for counsellors in Australia is on the rise. According to Seek, the field of Counselling, Psychology and Social Work is listed at #15 in the 20 Most-Needed Jobs in Australia.

There are always opportunities for counsellors in schools, health practices, worksites, prisons, community groups and outreach groups all across Australia.

Recently, the Federal Government has highlighted plans to fund the industry with additional funding for telehealth services and remote counselling.

Start a meaningful career

Counselling is a job in demand, with many opportunities opening up for counsellors who want to make a difference in people’s lives. Learn the skills you need to embark on a successful career as a professional counsellor in Australia.

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Gladys Mae


Gladys Mae serves as the General Manager and Head of Student Services at the International Career Institute. Gladys holds a degree in Mass Communication - Broadcast Media from the University of San Jose-Recoletos. She joined ICI in 2010 and has over the past 12 years been instrumental in providing leadership and guidance to staff and students alike. Prior to joining ICI Gladys led a multifaceted career with key roles in the banking and business process outsourcing industries.