A counselor aide assists counselors, therapists and psychologists working in a variety of specialties, including social work and rehabilitation. She works with people with addictions, metal illnesses, homeless and former inmates, helping to improve the quality of their lives. Employment is typically found at nonprofits, social service agencies and government organizations.
Duties on the Job
Specific duties of a counselor aide vary, but often involve helping clients with basic tasks, such as transporting them to shopping areas, providing budgeting assistance, helping them find housing and offering meal planning advice. The counselor aide may conduct interviews with patients and family members to learn more about their history and make recommendations to the counselor on programs that may benefit the person. Often he leads group activities and monitors patients to ensure they follow the rules, reporting bad behavior to the counselor.
Required Experience and Education
Minimum required education for a counselor aide is dependent on the position and the organization. A successful candidate typically has an associate degree in a related health discipline or a high school diploma, with relevant work experience. A person with only a high school diploma may be given fewer responsibilities than someone with an associate degree. Most organizations provide training to help counselor aides acclimate to the job and learn to properly respond to the varying needs of patients.
A counselor aide is an excellent communicator, with outstanding listening skills, allowing her to work effectively with both patients and colleagues. She’s an outstanding problem solver and a quick thinker, who can make sound decisions without much deliberation. Patients are comfortable discussing their problems with her, because she is empathetic and has excellent interpersonal skills.
Salary and Outlook
As of May 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average salary of social and human service assistants, including counselor aides, at $31,280 per year. The BLS expects employment for this field to increase by 22 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is double the 11 percent predicted for all occupations. Growth is expected, as an increasing number of people pursue treatment options for their addictions.
Opportunities for Advancement
Working as a counselor aide may help prepare for a role as a counselor. Specific requirements to become a counselor vary by specialty, but candidates must have both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. Additional licensure may also be needed to practice in some states.