16 Highest-Paid Counseling Jobs (With Descriptions and Salaries)

Updated March 10, 2023

If you're interested in working as a counselor, there are many types of positions you may pursue. Some of these positions have higher average salaries than others. Learning about the highest-paying counseling jobs may help you decide which is the right choice for you. In this article, we discuss 16 of the highest-paid counseling jobs and list their primary duties and average yearly salaries.

Highest paid counseling jobs

Here is a list of 16 counseling positions in order of their average yearly salary:

1. Pediatric counselor

National average salary: $63,934 per year

Primary duties: A pediatric counselor is a counselor who works with children and adolescents. They may receive training to work with students, parents, teachers and others involved in child care. The goal of the counselor is to assist families in addressing their child's mental health concerns so that they may successfully navigate their lives.

More specifically, a pediatric counselor is one that specializes in working with children and adolescents experiencing emotional difficulties, such as depression or anxiety. By educating patients about mental health concerns like these, both they and their families can better manage stress and symptoms.

2. Licensed clinical social worker

National average salary: $64,671 per year

Primary duties: Licensed clinical social workers receive training to diagnose and treat substance abuse, mental illness and other behavioral problems. They act as therapists who can help people with their mental health and provide counseling services, psychoanalysis and group therapy sessions.

Clinical social workers help design treatment programs that may include individual psychotherapy, family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, rehabilitation interventions for elderly people in nursing homes or hospitals and may also provide follow-up care for patients they've seen during inpatient stays.

Read more: Learn About Being a Clinical Social Worker

3. Direct support professional

National average salary: $65,938 per year

Primary duties: Direct support professionals work with individuals with disabilities to support them. They work in a variety of settings, including private partnerships, residential care facilities, day programs and community living. Direct support professionals can also work in group homes, adult foster care settings, colleges and universities. A direct support professional assists with daily living skills or social interactions. They may drive individuals to school or activities and help with eating and bathing.

Read more: Learn About Being a Direct Support Professional

4. Therapist

National average salary: $70,399 per year

Primary duties: A therapist is a mental health professional who provides therapy services to a client. This person might also be a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or any other mental health service provider. The job generally involves listening to the client's concerns and then discussing how to ease these problems through various therapeutic techniques, such as psychotherapy and counseling.

Related: Learn About Being a Behavioral Therapist

5. Physician assistant

National average salary: $71,895 per year

Primary duties: A physician assistant is a health care provider who works under the supervision of a physician. Physician assistants provide medical treatment and diagnosis, take histories, prescribe medication and follow up with patients to give treatment. Physician assistants may receive training as primary care providers, surgeons, OB-GYNs, pediatricians or anesthesiologists.

Physician assistants work in multiple settings, including private practice groups, physicians' offices and hospitals. They may work independently or as part of a larger medical team that includes other physicians and nurse practitioners.

Read more: Learn About Being a Physician Assistant

6. Mental health counselor

National average salary: $74,445 per year

Primary duties: A mental health counselor is a person who provides counseling for individuals. The care could be for a child, an adult or another professional. Mental health counselors receive training to help people understand how they think and feel and how those factors affect their life and the lives of others. The aim of these counseling sessions is to improve personal relationships, increase the ability for individuals to relate better in society and improve their overall well-being.

Read more: Learn About Being a Mental Health Counselor

7. Registered nurse

National average salary: $78,660 per year

Primary duties: A registered nurse (RN) is a professional that assists doctors in providing health care services. This profession is very broad, and the range of work varies greatly depending on where they're employed. RNs can perform many duties throughout any shift, including administrative tasks, like patient scheduling or trending data.

Related: Learn About Being a Registered Nurse (RN)

8. Physical therapist

National average salary: $81,539 per year

Primary duties: A physical therapist is a health care provider who counsels people on physical activity and specializes in the rehabilitation of movement and function, using exercises, manual therapies and mobilization. They can help patients recover from an injury or illness or manage chronic conditions. Physical therapists use a wide range of therapeutic approaches to treat everything from orthopedic injuries to pain management following motorcycle accidents.

Hospitals may employ them to provide treatment throughout the hospital's health care system or work independently as licensed practitioners. The physical therapist also plays a crucial role in health promotion and disease prevention by screening for signs of physical activity limitations among clients with known disabilities, introducing them to exercise programs that may maximize their ability without exacerbating their condition and adapting those programs to meet clients' individual needs and goals.

Read more: Learn About Being a Physical Therapist

9. Mental health technician

National average salary: $84,044 per year

Primary duties: Mental health technicians provide a number of therapies to patients with mental illnesses. In addition to cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy, they offer occupational therapy and activities, such as arts and crafts or music therapy. It's common for them to teach patients who recently left the hospital how to be better self-sufficient in their homes by cooking or doing household chores.

10. Sports psychologist

National average salary: $94,835 per year

Primary duties: A sports psychologist is a licensed mental health professional who is trained in applied clinical psychology and works with athletes and other sports performers. Athletes often visit a sports psychologist for help in coping with the high-pressure environment of competitive sport. They can serve as a source of objectivity and perspective on the athlete's mental and physical health.

11. Counseling psychologist

National average salary: $94,835 per year

Primary duties: A counseling psychologist is a licensed professional who is an expert in helping people overcome emotional and psychological difficulties. A counseling psychologist often works alongside other types of mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists or therapists, to provide personalized care. They are qualified to work with a wide range of conditions, including depression, substance abuse and anxiety.

12. Clinical psychologist

National average salary: $98,693 per year

Primary duties: A clinical psychologist is a psychologist who works with individuals, families and groups to help them understand and resolve their difficulties. Clinical psychologists cannot prescribe medication for psychiatric disorders, but they can collaborate with psychiatrists to prescribe medications and monitor the patient's progress. They may also work closely with mental health nurses in community settings or inpatient facilities, such as hospitals or long-term care facilities. Clinical psychologists work to ease mental, emotional, social, cultural and spiritual issues to help individuals continue functioning in their life roles as family members, employees or students.

Read more: Learn About Being a Clinical Psychologist

13. Advanced practice registered nurse

National average salary: $100,696 per year

Primary duties: An advanced practice registered nurse is a registered nurse who has received the education and a license to provide clinical services. In order to obtain the title of advanced practice registered nurse, these nurses must have a master's degree in nursing from an accredited program and have passed the national examination for APRN licensure. Advanced practice nurses can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, home health agencies, universities and colleges, long-term care facilities, public health departments and occupational health settings.

14. Family nurse practitioner

National average salary: $123,265 per year

Primary duties: A family nurse practitioner (FNP) is a registered nurse with advanced training in health care. They are qualified to diagnose, manage and care for patients of all ages. They can diagnose and manage all types of illnesses, prescribe medications and provide patients with the knowledge to make wise decisions. They are qualified to care for all types of patients in a wide variety of clinical settings.

Although their function is similar to that of a physician, they are not typically able to perform surgery or prescribe certain types of medication. Therefore, they usually work under the supervision of physicians who have more specialized training than they do.

15. Primary care physician

National average salary: $134,184 per year

Primary duties: A primary care physician is someone who is able to provide medical care for patients in a general, nonemergency setting. Primary care physicians are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of common health problems that are often encountered by the general population. They often spend significant time with their patients and may even have involvement in coordinating their patient's care with other specialists. Primary care physicians diagnose and treat conditions, like diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma or depression. Through regular checkups, they monitor their patient's overall health status for potential changes.

16. Family medicine physician

National average salary: $282,995 per year

Primary duties: A family medicine physician is a doctor who has completed medical school and undergone several years of residency training in general internal medicine before adding additional studies and training to focus on the needs of families. They provide comprehensive, preventive and acute care to all members of the family, including infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

A family medicine physician is also skilled in interviewing patients about their past medical history and psychosocial issues that may affect diagnosis or treatment. Some family physicians specialize in areas such as geriatrics or pediatric emergency medicine. Other specialists include psychiatrists and OB-GYNs, but these doctors still see patients for other issues if needed.


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