Rehabilitation Counselor Career Guide


Rehabilitation counselors provide counseling and rehabilitative services to clients with psychological, social, emotional and work-related issues related to a physical disability (injury, accident, birth defect and/or illness). As a rehabilitation counselor, your main goal will be to provide your psychologically and/or physically disabled clients with the tools, skills and resources they need to live independently.

If you are interested in becoming a rehabilitation counselor, you will need to complete certain educational, certification and/or licensure requirements. This article will teach you everything you need to know to enter the field of rehabilitation counseling.

Educational Requirements

You will need both a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a health, counseling or science-related area such as biology, anatomy, physical therapy, psychology or sociology. Once you have successfully graduated from your undergraduate program, you will more than likely want acquire a master’s degree in clinical counseling or rehabilitation counseling.

It is important to note that although it is not required to have a master’s degree to be a rehabilitation counselor most employers prefer that you have one. Most graduate programs allow you to enter a rehabilitation counseling program with a bachelor’s degree in any field. Rehabilitation counseling programs teach you how to determine your client’s needs, help your client find employment, and counsel your client on issues that may be negatively affecting his/her quality of life.

Although most employers prefer a master’s degree, some employers will hire you with a bachelor’s degree in clinical counseling or rehabilitation counseling.

At the bachelor level, you will not be able to offer all of the services that you could at a master’s level. Your main function as a bachelor-level rehabilitation counselor will be to help clients with psychological and/or physical disabilities effectively cope with their condition and offer resources that can enhance their life.


A license is not required, but once again many employers prefer licensed professionals. This especially true if you decide to work at a hospital, clinic or private practice. In order to become a licensed practitioner, you will need to successfully complete a 2,500-hour, supervised clinical internship. You will also need to have a master’s degree. Furthermore, you will need to pass a state-approved certification exam. To maintain your license, you will need to enroll and complete continuing education courses every 2 to 3 years.


Your employer may prefer certified rehabilitation counselors. If this is the case, you will need to fulfill the following requirements: an advanced degree, previous work experience in the field and completion of a supervised clinical internship in rehabilitation counseling. Once you have successfully completed all of the educational, licensure and/or certification requirements, you will be classified as a rehabilitation counselor.

Job Duties

As a rehabilitation counselor, you will perform the following duties:

  • Conducting counseling (individual and group) to help your clients adapt to their disabilities
  • Assessing the skills, previous work experience, interests, emotional and mental well-being and educational needs of your clients
  • Consulting with physicians, counselors, psychologists, nurses and social workers to create treatment plans that prepare your clients to live independently
  • Providing your clients with resources (health care, career training, job placement, housing, etc.).
  • Teaching employers how to manage individuals with psychological and/or physical disabilities
  • Teaching your clients how to enhance their strengths and overcome their limitations
  • Monitoring your clients’ progress and altering their treatment plans, if need be
  • Supporting the rights of disabled individuals to work where they want to work and live independently in the community

Salary Prospects

As a rehabilitation counselor, you can expect to make approximately $33,000 per year ( According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013), if you fall in the lower 10%, you can expect to make approximately $21,000 per year, and if you fall in the upper 10%, you can expect to make approximately $57,000 or more per year. If you work at a state agency (not a hospital or educational institution), you will make approximately $48,000 per year and if you work at nursing home or a residential care facility, you will make approximately $29,000 per year (

Career Outlook

The career outlook in this field looks positive. In fact, the field is expected to increase 28% by 2020 ( The growth will be spurred by the aging population (who need rehabilitative services) along with war-related injuries and disabilities.

$_SESSION['title'] = "Rehabilitation Counselor College Programs";
$_SESSION['campusType'] = "BOTH";
$_SESSION['areaOfInterest'] = "COUNSELING";
$_SESSION['degreeOfInterest'] = "";

Copyright © 2023 All Rights Reserved. Program outcomes vary according to each institution's curriculum and job opportunities are not guaranteed. This site is for informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional help.