Career paths for counselling students

Counselling & Psychology is such a broad subject with plenty of careers you can go into. Most will require a post graduate degree and possible specialisation in the area you want. Plus most careers with counselling will expect you to be a member of an accredited body the most popular are BACP, UKCP, NCS & ACCPH for professional accreditation you'll have to meet strict rules on training, practice, ethics and length of experience.

But your options are wide open. 

Career paths for counselling students


So, your first most obvious option is counsellor. Counselling is probably the most popular term you’ve come across, they will utilise psychotherapy but usually focus on clients with mental health disorders. You will need minimum level 4 diploma and 100 hours in supervised placement to qualify and be a member of a professional body mentioned above especially if you want to work for the NHS.


Psychotherapy is a term that covers all talking therapies, counselling and psychotherapy is similar however, psychotherapists work on longer-term concerns and have the training to reflect this. There are many different areas Psychotherapists can help with, including:

  • abuse

  • addiction

  • bereavement

  • eating disorders

  • mental health disorders

  • family issues

  • low self-esteem & low self-confidence

  • trauma


Psychology is effectively the study of the way people think, behave and interact. Looking at the way the mind works, psychology covers everyday functioning such as learning and remembering. It also covers more complex mental health conditions. Becoming a psychologist, an individual would need to gain a degree in psychology. To become a counselling psychologist they will need either BSc or BA honours in psychology and a Doctorate in counselling psychology. Usually takes a minimum 3-5 years full time learning to qualify and usually you’re required to join the BPS.  With this qualification you can specialise in multiple areas:

  • clinical psychologist

  • educational psychologist

  • forensic psychologist

  • health psychologist


A psychiatrist is someone who has had medical training and has decided to specialise in psychiatry. The term psychiatry refers to the study of mental disorders. This includes their diagnosis, management and prevention. Psychiatrists often work on a broad range of cases alongside an area of expertise and research.

Similar to general practice or paediatrics - psychiatry is a medical speciality. This means in order to be a psychiatrist you must train for five years as a doctor. A further two years of 'foundation' jobs is needed before specialising in psychiatry. To become a fully trained psychiatrist it typically takes another four years of dedicated study.

Alternative careers

  • Play therapist 

  • Life coach

  • Social worker

  • Social and community service workers

  • Healthcare

  • Teaching (counselling & psychology)