Counsellors help people identify and understand their emotional issues through therapies including cognitive behaviour therapy, interpersonal therapy and other talking therapies. The average salary of a Counsellor is $68,854 per annum.

As a counsellor, you can choose to specialise in certain areas such as rehabilitation, relationships, and coaching.

Salary range
Average salary $68,854
salary range
Source: SEEK
Projected job growth
23% by 2020
Employment by region
The top three regions for employment as a Counsellor are:
NSW 37.8%
VIC 22.7%
QLD 21%

A day in the life of a Counsellor

Key skills required

The top skills for a Counsellor are:
  • Empathy
  • Good communication and listening skills
  • Maturity
Career pathway planner
Starting out
Starting out

Take the first step to becoming a professional Counsellor and learn valuable skills in communication through practical workshops and work placements.

Study a bachelor degree to get qualified to work as a Relationship Counsellor, Youth Worker or Healthcare Professional.

  • Bachelor of Applied Social Science (Counselling)
Moving up in the industry
Moving up in the industry

Already have an undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in the field of counselling?

Build on your skills and gain the high-level qualification you need to be an expert in your profession with a postgraduate counselling course.

  • Master of Counselling & Applied Psychotherapy

Counsellor job description

What does a Counsellor do?

Counsellors provide support to people experiencing emotional difficulties by helping them to identify and work through their issues.

A Counsellor uses techniques such as talking therapy to assist people to reach their own resolutions or develop strategies to address and remedy their concerns.

Most Counsellors work with clients on a specific issue for a designated period of time rather than a long duration, with a view to fostering the client’s well-being and supporting them through personal problems or life transitions.

A day in the life of a Counsellor

Daily tasks for a Counsellor

As a Counsellor, your daily responsibilities may include:

  • Meeting with clients to discuss their emotional, mental or lifestyle issues.
  • Acting as a facilitator of group counselling sessions or a mediator in a conflict resolution setting.
  • Discussing your clients’ desired goals and outcomes.
  • Providing relevant information or resources specific to the client’s needs.
  • Assisting clients to set goals and adopt strategies to address their issues.
  • Referring clients to other healthcare professionals where appropriate.  
  • Liaising with healthcare professionals as part of a health management team.

To learn about the skills, traits and qualifications recommended for a Counsellor, read our tips on how to become a Counsellor.

Working hours of a Counsellor

Counsellors may be employed in a variety of settings, including community health centres, schools or universities, government departments, not-for-profit organisations or private practice.

The working hours of a Counsellor vary depending on the setting of their employment. For example, a Counsellor working in the healthcare sector may be required to shifts during the evening or weekend. Self-employed Counsellors or Counsellors in private practice may work irregular or extended hours to suit the needs of their clients.

On average, Counsellors in full time employment work fewer hours (35.7 hours) per week compared to the national average for all occupations (41.1 hours/week) (Job Outlook).

What’s the difference between a Psychologist and a Counsellor?

Psychologists are experts in human behaviour and mental processes, and often assist clients in the management of mental illness over an extended period of time, or to attain deeper insight into their personality.

Registration as a Psychologist in Australia requires a minimum of six years of study in the field of psychology, including undergraduate and post graduate degrees along with supervised practice.

Counsellors assist people to understand issues they are facing in their lives and to develop solutions or coping skills. Counselling is usually provided over a short term for a specific problem.

Counsellors are not required to complete the same level of qualifications as a Psychologist, although it is recommended that they acquire formal training, such as a diploma or degree, in order to provide clients with sound advice and accredited counselling techniques. 

How to become a Counsellor

If you’re interested in becoming a Counsellor and assisting others to live happier and more fulfilled lives, there are specific skills and qualifications you’ll need to work professionally.  

The healthcare industry is one of the fastest-growing in Australia right now, and there are plenty of counselling opportunities in the private and public sector for you to make a difference. Read more about the job description of a Counsellor.

What technical & professional skills do I need to become a Counsellor?

Before working as a professional Counsellor, you will need to gain a sound level of knowledge around psychological theories and mental health problems.

Associate Professor Denis O’Hara, Head of School of Counselling at the Australian College of Applied Psychology, explains that the minimum training required to be registered as a fully qualified Counsellor is either a graduate diploma or three-year bachelor’s degree in counselling.

“Substantial education and training is required to help people presenting with such a wide range of life issues, from practical questions about life transitions and personal growth to more severe problems like major depression and anxiety disorders,” adds Denis.

A course such as the Bachelor of Counselling or Graduate Diploma of Counselling meets the requirements you’ll need to apply for full registration as a Counsellor. As part of your course, you’ll also complete the amount of counselling practice hours (or work placement) needed for registration.

What areas can I specialise in as a Counsellor?

There's a wide range of specialisations that a Counsellor might choose to focus on, such as:

  • Relationship counselling
  • Crisis & trauma counselling
  • Counselling children & young people
  • Drug & alcohol counselling
  • Conflict resolution
  • Stress management
  • Career counselling or coaching
  • Grief & loss counselling

Considering moving in a slightly different direction? A counselling qualification can also prepare you to work in the community services sector in a variety of roles. A vocational course such as the Diploma of Counselling (CHC51015) will introduce you to the field of counselling while qualifying you to work in a support role such as a Case Worker or Project Worker in community service organisations.

Counsellors may also choose to continue their training and education to become a Psychologist.

Should I become a Counsellor?

To be a successful Counsellor, you will need to have:

  • good communication skills
  • patience and empathy
  • effective listening skills
  • a trustworthy nature
  • passion for understanding human behaviours

When speaking to people seeking a career in counselling, SEEK Learning Consultant Sasha Jurac says that an innate care for others is what really shines through as their motivation.

“When I ask what has captivated them about counselling they will usually say it’s because they really want to help people,” she explains.