How to Become a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor


Authored by Donna Johnson in Careers and Employment 
Published on 10-21-2009

If you’re looking for a career that will allow you to help others in their time of need, you should consider becoming a certified rehabilitation counselor. Becoming such a counselor will allow you to work with patients with drug, alcohol, or other addictions as they try to overcome their addictions. Rehabilitation counselors may also work with disabled patients as they try to regain motor skills lost through injury or health conditions.

The first step in becoming a certified rehabilitation counselor is to attend college. You should look for a school where you can get a psychology degree with an emphasis on rehabilitation counseling. At the very minimum, you must obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. However, if you can obtain a Master’s Degree, you should do so. Many employers will require a Master’s Degree, and even if the facility you end up working with does not, a Master’s Degree will give you a competitive edge over other applicants that only have Bachelor’s Degrees. A Master’s Degree also will give you a wider variety of positions to choose from during your job search.

Next, you will need to decide where you want to work. Certification requirements vary by state, so you must obtain certification in the state you will work in. State certification requirements often include a minimum amount of hands-on training in various areas, additional education beyond your degree in various areas, and taking and achieving minimum scores on one or more certification tests given by the state. You can check with your state’s government for the most up-to-date information on the requirements to become a certified rehabilitation counselor, as requirements can also change from year to year.

Once you are certified, you will need to decide what type of rehabilitation counseling you would like to specialize in. You will also need to choose the type of counseling facility you would be most comfortable working in. You can choose from public facilities, which are typically associated with social services departments at the city, state, or federal levels of government, or private facilities, such as those maintained by hospitals. The private facilities usually pay more and may have more available jobs, but many counselors find working for public facilities to be more rewarding emotionally.

Don’t forget to use all your available resources when you’re trying to become a certified rehabilitation counselor. If the college you attended offers additional classes or internships that you will need to obtain state certification, take advantage of those opportunities. Also, once you’ve received your certification, you should use any job placement assistance that your college offers. The majority of the work needed to obtain certification as a rehabilitation counselor will still be on your shoulders, but using all your resources will make the process much easier. You will find the perfect position as a certified rehabilitation counselor, and the financial and emotional rewards of your career will ensure that you can be very proud of your profession while making a difference in the lives of your patients as well as their loved ones.


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