Counselors: Salary Overview
Counselors provide professional advice to groups and individuals who experience professional, personal, or psychological problems.
They may have different specialization, including vocational and career counseling, marriage and family counseling, or mental health counseling.
Counselors provide counseling for families, students, patients, depending on the field of employment.
Salaries vary widely based on the specialization and the industry of employment.
For example, a counselor who works in a school will be paid differently than a counselor who works in a medical office because they have different job descriptions, different work environments, and different responsibilities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for counselors(all other) in the United States was $48,400 in May 2019.
The median annual wage for this profession (the wage at which half of the professionals in this occupation earned less and half earned more) was $42,930.
Salaries in this field also vary depending on the industry of employment and the level of experience.
The lowest 10 percent earned less than $27,030 while the highest 10 percent earned more than $77,590.
Counselor Salary by Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 25,420 counselors (all other) employed in the United States in 2019.
In this category, there are included all counselors except genetic counselors, credit counselors, school and career counselors, rehabilitation counselors, mental health counselors, family therapists, and substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors.
According to BLS, the biggest employer for these types of counselors was the state government, an industry that employed approximately 3,770 counselors and paid them, on average, around $44,800 a year.
Their second biggest employer was the industry of individual and family services, a field that hired 3,660 counselors and offered them an average annual salary of $44,240.
Counselors who worked for the local government earned an average salary of $58,600 a year.
Some counselors (around 2,020) worked for elementary and secondary schools- a field that offered a mean annual salary of $53,080.
About 1,700 counselors worked in the office of health practitioners- a field that offered a mean annual salary of $54,360 per year.
According to BLS, religious organizations offered the biggest average annual salary for counselors but there are very few positions open in this field.
In 2019 there were 150 counselors who worked for a religious organization and they earned a mean annual wage of $74,740.
Insurance carriers employed around 140 counselors in 2019 and paid them, on average, with $72,800 per year.
The average annual salary for counselors who work in research was $59,440 while those who work for colleges, universities, and professional schools were paid, on average, with $58,790 per year.
Counselor Salary by Compensation Structure
Typically counselors earn a fixed salary plus bonuses and health benefits or other perks.
Depending on the employer, the counselor’s level of experience, the counselor’s role within the company, and the field of employment, bonuses, and commissions can sum up to several thousands of dollars a year.
Some may also be paid on an hourly rate.
The median hourly rate for counselors was $20.54 in May 2019, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, but these rates may be anywhere between less than $13 and more than $37.30 depending on the field of employment and the counselor’s expertise.
If you’re paid by the hour, your total compensation will vary depending on the number of hours you work per week.
If you work overtime your salary will increase accordingly and you may end up earning more than a counselor who has more experience than you and a higher hourly rate just because you work more hours than him/her.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Counselors. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.