As a career changer, I am more than excited to embark on a new path. However, I’ve heard (one too many times) a general consensus that boils down to: You’re not going to make any money in this profession.
I’ve long worked in the not-for-profit sector and have learned that while the emphasis is not on making money, doing good work does not have to be synonymous with being broke. It is possible to serve those in need and still be able to have a good life. Granted, counseling might not yield you a trip around the world in a private jet every year, but it can certainly be more lucrative than most people make it out to seem. I was so excited to read this blog from an ACA member that addresses this issue and have welcomed the wise words of other counselors who are doing great work while making a buck (see Casey Truffo).
Like any other service, knowing your value and being comfortable with communicating that with prospective clients is the biggest hurdle in this profession. As counselors, we offer a service, and an important one at that. Although private practice is where you can actually flex your muscle in terms of choosing your clients and setting your rates, understanding the importance of getting paid for your services is something you can start early on in your career at an agency or fieldwork site. I work with a population that typically has a very difficult time making payments however, I have discovered the power of having “the talk” with them and have sometimes been surprised by their efforts to take care of their financial responsibilities to the agency. It may come in small amounts but it speaks volumes to their understanding of the value of the work we do. In having those conversations, I’ve also grown less afraid of engaging clients in this way and it will make it easier years down the road in a private practice setting.
Read the blog that inspired this post -> American Counseling Association Weblog » Blog Archive » Building a Six-Figure Counseling Practice: How Much Can a Master’s Level Counselor Make?.