Alternative titles for this job include Therapist

Counsellors help people discuss their problems and feelings in a confidential environment.

Average salary (a year)

£19,000 Starter


£47,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

35 to 40 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends attending events or appointments

How to become a counsellor

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • volunteering
  • training with a counselling organisation


You could do a degree or postgraduate course in counselling or psychotherapy.

You should look for a course that includes practical skills training and supervised placements. You can search for courses through the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course

More information


You can start by doing an introduction to counselling course, which can last up to 12 weeks. After that, you can extend your training by completing courses like:

  • Level 3 Certificate in Counselling
  • Level 4 Diploma in Counselling Skills
  • Level 5 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling

Colleges will set their own entry requirements but most will expect you to have completed the introductory and Level 3 counselling courses to go further.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for these courses vary.

More information

Volunteering and experience

Paid or unpaid experience is essential for course and job applications. Many counselling bodies offer volunteering opportunities and you can find these on Do-it.

Other routes

Some counselling organisations, like Relate and Cruse offer training, which may lead into paid work.

More information

Career tips

Counselling is often a second or third career, and life experience is highly valued.

Professional and industry bodies

Becoming a member of a body on the Professional Standards Authority's counselling register can improve your chances of getting a job.

Further information

You can find out more about careers in counselling from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and the UK Council for Psychotherapy.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • knowledge of psychology
  • the ability to understand people‚Äôs reactions
  • customer service skills
  • active listening skills
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You'll need to:

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

In this role you could be:

  • building a relationship of trust and respect
  • agreeing what will be covered in sessions
  • helping clients to talk about their concerns
  • listening carefully, asking questions and checking your understanding
  • empathising but challenging when necessary
  • helping clients to see things more clearly or differently
  • undergoing therapy yourself (needed for accreditation) and meeting your supervisor
  • keeping confidential records

Working environment

You could work in a therapy clinic, at a GP practice, at a school, at a college or from home.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

Career path and progression

Competition for full-time paid work is strong and many counsellors do a mixture of part-time, voluntary and private work.

With experience, you could set up your own practice.

You could choose to train as a counsellor supervisor or trainer. You could also move into a management or administration role.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a counsellor right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

Introduction to Counselling Skills L2 - Award

  • Provider: Fareham College
  • Start date: 28 April 2020
  • Location: Hampshire

Introduction To Counselling Skills

  • Provider: Farnborough College of Technology
  • Start date: 22 April 2020
  • Location: Farnborough

JobsIn the United Kingdom

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