How to become a counsellor
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- a college course
- training with a counselling organisation
You could do a diploma, degree or postgraduate course in counselling or psychotherapy.
Some undergraduate courses offer counselling in combination with other subjects, for example psychology, sociology or criminology.
You should look for a course that includes practical skills training and supervised placements.
You'll usually need:
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
- a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course
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 for these courses vary.
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.
You'll be expected to undergo counselling yourself and regularly reflect on your practice with a supervisor, as this is needed for accreditation.
Counselling is often a second or additional 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.
You can find out more about training and careers in counselling from: