Work Activities/Work Locations
- Rehabilitation Counselors work with people who are physically, mentally, or socially disabled resulting from work related injuries, automobile accidents, hearing impairments, visual disorders, alcoholism, drug abuse, physical disability, mental retardation, and psychiatric disabilities. Rehabilitation Counselors assist these people through job counseling, training, and assessments for how to successfully live independently.
- Rehabilitation Counselors work in a variety of settings, including state and federal agencies, schools, mental health clinics, nursing homes, correctional centers, school systems, business and industry, private rehabilitation, treatment facilities, recreation programs, independent living centers, and other related areas.
- Although other human services and health care providers may serve people with disabilities, it is Rehabilitation Counselors who are uniquely qualified to provide vocational guidance and psychological counseling to people with disabilities and their families.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- Rehabilitation counseling offers a variety of career options.
- Demand for Rehabilitation Counselors is VERY high and will continue to grow. Currently there are not enough certified counseling professionals to cover all the openings available.
Education: 4-6 years
Patient Interaction: High
Physical Activity: Medium
Job Growth: Low
High School Courses
- Students should take a college preparatory curriculum.
- During high school, being a peer counselor, tutor, or volunteer at a hospital or rehabilitation center would familiarize a person with people and disabilities.
Education and Training
- A Bachelor’s Degree must be earned and then a Master’s Degree for Certification as a counselor. A Bachelor’s Degree would allow one to work in the field but not counsel-not be certified or licensed.
- Suggested undergraduate majors are Vocational Rehabilitation, Vocational Rehabilitation with a Concentration in Special Education, or Rehabilitation Psychology.
- UW-Stout has a 124 credit, 4-year Vocational Rehabilitation major that between your Sophomore and Junior year you select a Concentration in either Community-Based Rehabilitation, Criminal Justice, Independent Living Rehabilitation, Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Recreational Rehabilitation, Rehabilitation Counseling, Rehabilitation Technology, Social Work OR as a Freshman select a 124-credit Vocational Rehabilitation major with a Concentration in Special Education…one would then do student teaching.
- The course work in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program combines relevant theory and basic information combined with practical, hands-on application. Students are able to work directly in rehabilitation settings to put into practice their newly acquired skills and to obtain a realistic experience working in rehabilitation.
- Students then apply for a Master’s program. A Bachelor’s Degree is required, but a specific major is not; however remember, admission into a program is competitive and they are looking for highly qualified students with relative coursework and experience.
- Various Master’s Degrees would lead to Certification in this field including Master of Arts OR Master of Science in either Rehabilitation Psychology, Rehabilitation Counseling, or Special Education.
- Master’s programs typically last 2 years and require an additional 600 hours in a supervised clinical internship.
- UW-Stout has a 2-year Master’s in Vocational Rehabilitation that has you choose a focus on Rehabilitation Leadership, Rehabilitation Counseling, School to Work Transition, or Vocational Evaluation.
- UW-Madison has both an undergraduate and graduate program in Rehabilitation Psychology and within that department a Concentration in Special Education. They emphasize that the graduate Master’s Degree is necessary for counseling AND Psychology focuses on counseling teens and adults while Special Education would work with children.
Method of Entry
- Rehabilitation Counselors earn a Bachelor’s Degree and then most states require a Master’s Degree for certification and licensing.
- The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) sets the criteria for becoming a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC)
- In Wisconsin and a number of other states one must receive a Professional Counselor certification and therefore be licensed through the state of employment.
- Certification (CRC) requires documenting various educational experiences (accepts both educational experience accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) and not) and work experiences. See CRCC website for various certification requirements.
- Initial certification lasts 5 years; must renew certification at 5-year intervals by documenting 100 clock hours of continuing education OR passing the examination.
- Associate degree holders can gain entry into the field as aides.
American Rehabilitation Counseling Association
4202 East Fowler Ave., EDU 105
Tampa, FL, 33620
National Council on Rehabilitation Education
1099 E. Champlain Dr., Suite A, #137
Fresno, CA, 93720
National Rehabilitation Association (NRA)
PO Box 150235
Alexandria, VA, 22315
703/836-0850 or 888/258-4295
National Rehabilitation Counseling Assoc.
P.O. Box 4480
Manassas, VA, 20108
Number Employed in 2014 (Wisconsin): 1,530
Percent Employment Growth (2014-2024): 1%
Expected Annual Openings: 40
Median Salary in 2014 (Wisconsin): $33,774
Salary information is located at Career One Stop
Wisconsin AHEC Health Careers Information Center provides the most current salary information available from CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop will have a lapse between when the information is gathered and when it is released.
- Rehabilitation Counselors usually work 40 hours a week.
- They can work weekends, shifts, and/or holidays.
Demand for Rehabilitation Counselor’s will continue to grow. The field is more diverse and complex than ever before including such areas as transition services for children within school systems, geriatric rehabilitation services for older persons who are experiencing changing lifestyles and health problems; and industrially injured workers that are receiving rehabilitation counseling services.