Alternative titles for this job include Therapist

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

Average salary (a year)

£25,654 Starter


£45,838 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

35 to 40 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends attending events or appointments

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

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 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.

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


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 organisations, like Relate, Samaritans and Cruse offer training to volunteers, for their listening or support services. This kind of experience can be really valuable, before taking up professional counselling training.

More Information

Career tips

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.

Further information

You can find out more about training and careers in counselling from:

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

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’s reactions
  • 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
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

You might use one particular type of therapy or a combination of methods to:

  • build non-judgemental relationships of trust and respect
  • agree what will be covered in sessions
  • help clients to talk about their feelings, think about their choices and find ways to cope
  • listen carefully, ask questions and check your understanding
  • empathise but challenge when necessary
  • help clients to see things more clearly or in a different way
  • keep confidential records

You could work one-to-one, or with couples, families or groups. Counselling can be done face-to-face, online as well as over the phone.

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

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

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

It's important for newly qualified counsellors to get peer support to develop their skills, so it's unusual to go straight into working for yourself.

Counsellors often specialise in a particular area, for example bereavement support, relationships or addiction. 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 consultancy role.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

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

Award in Introduction to Counselling Skills

  • Provider: PETROC
  • Start date: 13 September 2022
  • Location: Barnstaple

Award in Introduction to Counselling Skills

  • Start date: 19 September 2022
  • Location: Newcastle-under-Lyme

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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