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Counsellors help people discuss their problems and feelings in a confidential setting.

Annual Salary

£28,000 to £50,000

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

35 to 40 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends; attending events or appointments

Future employment

There will be 3.8% more Counsellor jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

As a counsellor, you could use different types of therapy to:

  • agree what will be covered in sessions and keep records
  • build trust with a client in person, online or over the phone
  • listen carefully, ask questions and check understanding
  • help your client to talk about their feelings, see things clearer and find ways to cope
  • empathise but challenge when necessary

You could work with individuals, couples, families or groups.

Working environment

You could work in a therapy clinic, at a GP practice, at a school, at a college or from home.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • training with a counselling organisation

You could do a diploma, degree or postgraduate course in counselling or psychotherapy.

You might be able to study counselling alongside another subject like psychology, sociology or criminology.

You should look for a course that includes practical skills training and supervised work placements.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course
For more information

You could start by doing an introduction to counselling course. This can last up to 3 months and can help to work out if counselling is the right career for you.

After that, you can do further training and complete courses like:

  • Level 3 Certificate in Counselling Skills
  • Level 4 Diploma in Counselling Skills and Theory
  • Level 5 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling

You can find out more about the recommended training to become a counsellor from the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).

For more information
Other routes

You can volunteer and do training courses with organisations like Relate, Samaritans and Cruse.

This can be useful experience before you take up professional counselling training.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Career tips

There's a lot of competition for paid work. Many counsellors do a mix of part time, voluntary and private work.

Counselling is often a second or additional career, and life experience is highly valued.

You'll also be expected to do counselling yourself and reflect on your experience with a supervisor as this is needed to become accredited.


You'll find it useful to have paid or unpaid work experience in counselling. You can find counselling volunteering opportunities on Do IT.

Professional and industry bodies

You could become a member of a body on theProfessional Standards Authority's counselling register to improve your chances of getting a job.

Further information

You can find out more about careers in counselling from:British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP); UK Council for Psychotherapy; National Counselling Service; Health careers

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If you're a new counsellor, It's important to get peer support to develop your skills. It's unusual to go straight into working for yourself.

With experience you could:specialise in an area like bereavement support, relationships or addiction; set up your own practice and work for yourself; become a counsellor supervisor or trainer; move into management or consultancy

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • knowledge of psychology
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • customer service skills
  • active listening skills
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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