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.
You might be able to study counselling alongside another subject like psychology, sociology or criminology.
You should look for a course that includes practical skills training and supervised work 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 could start by doing an introduction to counselling course. This can last up to 3 months and can help to work out if counselling is the right career for you.
After that, you can do further training and complete courses like:
- Level 3 Certificate in Counselling Skills
- Level 4 Diploma in Counselling Skills and Theory
- Level 5 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling
You can find out more about the recommended training to become a counsellor from the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
Entry requirements for these courses vary.
There's a lot of competition for paid work. Many counsellors do a mix of part time, voluntary and private work.
Counselling is often a second or additional career, and life experience is highly valued.
You'll also be expected to do counselling yourself and reflect on your experience with a supervisor as this is needed to become accredited.
You'll find it useful to have paid or unpaid work experience in counselling. You can find counselling volunteering opportunities on Do IT.
Professional and industry bodies
You could become a member of a body on the Professional Standards Authority's counselling register to improve your chances of getting a job.
You can find out more about careers in counselling from: