New Counselor FAQ: Being Broke

June 04, 2018


Reading Time: 3 mins

Share this post »

This is a recurring post that attempts to answer the questions that I, and other counselors had when we first started in the field. I have asked new counselors to tell me what they are concerned with; also feel free to ask a question in the comments section. I sincerely hope this helps. 

Question: Am I dooming myself to a life of poverty and stress?

Okay so granted the wording of this question is “slightly” melodramatic (unfortunately quite realistic for my past/current self) but at one point or another we counselors looked at our student debt and starting salary and went “wait what?!” There is a working myth out there that we are doomed to remain underpaid “nice” individuals fighting for the betterment of people. While the last part is most certainly true the first part does not have to be. Nothing is as disheartening as coming out of school and working with people who make a small amount and have been working for over six years; especially when these people say to you “welcome to your future”. There can often be feelings of guilt or shame associated with shifting our focus on money as clinicians. It can be frowned upon to focus on reimbursement and wanting to be rich (or a variation of rich) is for people who “sell out”.

Therefore I am happy you asked this question because when I was fresh out of college I was almost convinced that my fate would be to remain underpaid. Almost…

So to answer the question: No. No you are not devoting your life to eating only cans of beans and Ramen noodles. However, there is a reality that we must all accept and that is that therapy/counseling in undervalued in this society, especially if you are working with people with low SES and victims. This does not mean that you cannot turn a good profit it just means that you have to be creative in your pursuits. Some people have a full time stable job and supplement that with a part-time job, or private practice, or conduct assessments, or find other ways to have another stream of revenue. There are part-time night jobs out there that some people might take on during the infancy of their career. Vocational assessments are also lucrative and time efficient. Some programs do not offer training in assessments so look for outside training institutes that will help you with referrals afterwards. You can also get paid to gives talks on specific subjects that you specialize in and utilize other skills that we as counselors have to make more money.

Either way, it is possible to make six figures and do this job. You must first start with the question “how”, then make the decision to seek it. Please read the quote below:

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” –  Ralph Waldo Emerson

* indicates required
No thanks, I just want to schedule a consultation