High Starting Salaries for Counselors in Rural Areas

high-starting-salaries-in-rural-areasIf you’re seeking a career change that’s enriching both personally and professionally, consider becoming a counselor. As the need for more mental health professionals across the nation increases, the lack of access to counseling services in rural communities is amplified.

If you’re willing to apply for jobs in rural areas, the rewards are numerous. You not only improve the health, balance and well-being of those you serve, but you can also pay off student loans quicker. Counselors in rural areas are often more financially secure than those in larger metropolitan areas.

How Much Counselors Earn

In the United States, the median annual wage for mental health counselors was $40,080 as of May 2012, according to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The highest paying jobs in this field are at government institutions and local, state and privately run hospitals, where salaries of $43,000 to $48,000 are common. Lower paying positions are offered at nursing and residential care facilities; individual and family care services and outpatient care centers.

Although salaries may be higher in urban areas, the cost of living in rural areas is significantly less, meaning you’ll have less overall expenses and more take-home pay. In a small community, housing, transportation, groceries and entertainment all cost much less. Plus, you’ll spend less time commuting to and from work when you live and work in a small town.

The American Counseling Association also reminds potential counselors that working in a rural community can be less stressful due to the slower pace of life. In Western Colorado, including Grand Junction, counselors can expect to earn between $37,880 and $40,750 where the cost of living is lower than the national average, according to PayScale.

Making a Career Change

Does a career in counseling seem like a good fit for your future? The Master of Arts in Counseling (MAC) program at the College of Adult and Graduate Studies center in Grand Junction offers a convenient 60 credit hour course that’s endorsed by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

If you can devote time each day to your studies, most students finish this degree in 2 1/2 years. If you’ve already started taking classes, this program accepts 12 graduate-level credit hours from other institutions. The need for mental health counselors is projected to increase 29 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the BLS.

Learn more about the The Master of Arts in Counseling (MAC) program at the College of Adult and Graduate Studies center in Grand Junction today!