Rehabilitation Counselor

Job Duties

Rehabilitation counselors assist individuals who have disabilities in dealing with the effects of those disabilities, be they personal, social, or vocational. People develop many different types of disabilities, some since birth, others from accidents or disease, and still others from daily stress. Counselors meet with individuals and evaluate their strengths and the limitation placed on them due to their disabilities. They provide personal and vocational counseling, as well as assistance with medical care, vocational training, and job searches.

Rehabilitation counselors work with the families of individuals as well as the person with the disability. They evaluate school and medical reports, discuss employment situations with employers. They work closely with physicians, psychologists, and occupational therapists to determine the capabilities of the individual. They work closely with the individual when creating a rehabilitation program that may include job skills training. Overall, rehabilitation counselors strive to help individuals with disabilities lead more independent lives.

Job Skills

Those interested in becoming rehabilitation counselors should have a number of desirable traits. They should be interested in counseling and helping people who are experiencing challenging situations. They need to be able to inspire trust and respect in their clients. They should have the ability to work independently without supervision. They also need to be able to adhere to the code of ethics for their counseling certifications and licenses.


In 2002, rehabilitation counselors earned a median annual salary of $25,840. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $16,840, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $44,940.

Training and Education

A master’s degree is the most common minimum requirement for rehabilitation counselors. This is usually a requirement to be licensed or certified. In some States, counselors who are employed by public agencies are required to have a master’s degree, while some States only require a bachelor’s degree. College courses include study in college student affairs, education, gerontological counseling, marriage and family counseling, substance abuse counseling, rehabilitation counseling, agency or community counseling, clinical mental health counseling, counseling psychology, and career counseling. There are about 176 institutions in the U.S. that have counseling programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Many counselors become voluntarily certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors, Inc., earning the credential of “National Certified Counselor.” Voluntary certification is also offered by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. Counselors can advance to become supervisors or administrators, or they may move into research, consulting, or college teaching. You can explore more about training for rehabilitation counselor careers by clicking on this link for schools offering human services degrees.


In 2002, rehabilitation counselors held about 122,00 jobs. A growing number are self-employed.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of rehabilitation counselors is expected to increase faster than the average. There are usually fewer graduates of counseling programs each year than there are job openings, resulting in very favorable opportunities. Demand for rehabilitation counselors will grow mainly because of a growing and aging population. More people are surviving accidents with disabilities because of advances in medical technology. Equal employment rights legislation for people with disabilities will also spur demand for these workers in government agencies.