How much do counsellors get paid?

Are you interested in becoming a counsellor? If so, you are probably someone who empathises with people and wants to help make their lives better. However, you also want to be sure you are putting your time, energy, and money toward a career that has excellent growth prospects and a liveable salary. How much do counsellors get paid, and what is the expected growth for this field?

What are the job requirements to become a counsellor?

A counsellor provides therapy, support, and problem-solving skills to their clients to assist them with short and long-term emotional challenges. Counsellors work with people from all backgrounds who are in emotional distress and therefore, they need to be compassionate, caring, and confidential. Other requirements for this career include:

  • the ability to maintain professional objectivity
  • being logical, systematic, and tactful
  • having a multicultural competency
  • possessing excellent listening skills
  • exercising critical thinking skills in problem-solving scenarios

What are the qualifications needed to be a counsellor?

To become a counsellor, you need first to complete courses at a diploma level, followed by further education in the pursuit of a bachelor degree, graduate degree, or masters degree in counselling. The level of experience and qualifications that counsellors have determines the levels they can work at in Australia.

Counselling is a self-regulated sector in Australia, and many counsellors become members of professional organisations such as the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) and the Australian Counselling Association (ACA). The PACFA and ACA have standards that members must uphold, including continued professional development and compliance with an established code of ethics. These organisations define the role of counsellors, with first and second level counsellors working in primary care and early intervention, third level counsellors working in secondary care, and fourth level counsellors working across the mental health spectrum.

Counsellors may choose to work in private practices or provide contract services to various organisations and companies. A career in counselling offers a multitude of job options, and counsellors can work in private and public schools, health centres, and not-for-profit organisations.

What are the average salaries for counsellors?

Because of the variety of counselling positions available in a wide range of scopes, the average salary of a counsellor often depends on a counsellor’s area of speciality or expertise. On average, a full-time counsellor can earn almost $80,000 annually, although a counsellor’s experience level will influence that average. Here are some average annual salaries for different counselling positions:

  • Substance abuse counsellors assist clients in working through drug and alcohol addictions and recovery. These counsellors make an average of $63,000 annually, although experience levels can influence this number.
  • Mental health counsellors provide support to clients dealing with anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorders, amongst other mental health issues. Counsellors earn an average of $78,000 a year by the time they reach 5 to 9 years of experience. Those counsellors with less experience and more experience will have salaries that reflect those factors.
  • Marriage and family relationship counsellors cover a wide range of areas, including marital and partner counselling and family advocacy and counselling. Relationship counsellors earn a yearly salary of around $68,000.
  • Work rehabilitation counsellors help people who are returning to the workforce, often due to disability or injury or because of military service. Their average yearly salary is $80,000.
  • Bereavement counsellors are responsible for helping clients address, accept, and move through various stages of grief. Counsellors in this area make $50,000 annually.
  • School counsellors assist students of all ages in both public and private settings. Assistance can range from dealing with mental health issues, familial relationships and conflict, to education and future endeavours, as well as other emotional problems or trauma. School counsellors make an average of $100,000 a year.

There are many other categories of counselling, but the above examples are some of the most in-demand positions in Australia. Entry-level counselling positions generally start around $37,000 annually, but the room to grow both in terms of salary and professional experience in this field is unlimited.

Job outlook and growth for counsellors in Australia

As a career field, counselling has grown strongly over the last five years and is projected to continue to grow steadily for the next five years as well. An estimated 32,500 counselling positions will be needed by 2023, and as such, the unemployment level in this field is below average.

With mental health issues increasing amongst Australians, especially in levels of depression, anxiety, and psychological and emotional distress, more counsellors will be in demand in the immediate future. A career as a counsellor is one that, with a few years experience, will pay well and will provide security for years to come.

Choose a well-paying career with growth and potential

Do you want to help people and make a difference in their lives? Would you like a job with definitive growth prospects, an excellent salary, and potential for professional advancement? If so, get your career as a counsellor started by enrolling in the ICI Diploma or ICI Advanced Diploma in Counseling and Psychology program. Our courses will prepare you for an incredibly influential career that will not only provide you with a paycheck but will offer you the opportunity to change the lives of other people.

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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.