Licensed professional counselors or LPCs provide a wide range of counseling services in many different settings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were a total of 687,150 employed in the United States in 2017. The salaries for counselors can vary by geographic location, but they can also vary by the venue in which the counselor works. A private practice counseling salary, for example, is usually different than what counselors employed by health care facilities earn.
Types of Counselors
An LPC salary depends upon the type counseling services she provides. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categorizes LPCs separately as substance abuse counselors, rehabilitation counselors, marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors and "all other counselors." The average salary in each of these fields varies somewhat.
For instance, educational, guidance, vocational and school counselors made the highest average salary in 2017, earning $58,620. Marriage and family therapists came in second with an average yearly wage of $53,860, while "all other counselors" ranked third making $47,600 on average. Substance abuse, mental health and rehabilitation counselors made $46,560 on average a year. Rehabilitation counselors were at the low end in terms of average salary at $38,950 a year.
Private Practice Salaries
The BLS also distinguishes pay within each of these different types of counseling professions by the type of employer or industry in which the counselor works. Counselors in private practice are distinguished as counselors providing individual and family services.
Substance abuse and mental health counselors providing this type of counseling made an average of $45,750 per year in 2017, while a marriage and family therapist salary in private practice averaged $49,410 annually. Vocational, educational, guidance and school counselors averaged $43,600 a year. Rehabilitation counselors made $36,060, while all other counselors in private practice made an average of $41,920 annually.
LPC Salary Scale
In reality, the actual pay scale for LPCs is unlimited. LPCs in private practice can make as much as they want by taking on as many clients as they can handle. However, in reality, LPCs in general tend to make salaries somewhere between $34,518 and $63,030 per year, according to the January 2019 salary data from PayScale.
The lowest paid rehabilitation counselors made $22,040 or less per year, in 2017, according to the BLS, and the highest earners got over $62,780. Salaries for marriage and family therapists fell below $31,390 for the lowest earners and rose above $81,760 for the highest paid therapists. Substance abuse and mental health counselor wages fell under $27,310 for the bottom 10 percent and exceeded $70,840 for the top 10 percent. Most educational counselors made between $32,660 and $91,960, while most "all other counselors" earned between $25,420 and $75,890.
Regardless of specialty, most salaries made by LPCs fall between these extremes, including those in private practice.
Job Growth and Outlook
According to the BLS, the job outlook for counselors should be favorable in the period from 2016 to 2026. The number of available jobs for counselors is expected to grow by 16 percent during this time. This does not necessarily include those going into private practice, since they will not necessarily be seeking employment per se.
However, this expected job growth does indicate that counseling services will remain in high demand and, in this environment, this should give private practice counselors plenty of incentive to set up shop and provide counseling services.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2017 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates – United States
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: 21-1018 Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: 21-1015 Rehabilitation Counselors
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: 21-1019 Counselors, All Other
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: 21-1013 Marriage and Family Therapists
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: 21-1014 Mental Health Counselors
- PayScale: Average Licensed Professional Counselor Salary
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: 21-1012 Educational, Guidance, School and Vocational Counselors
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Marriage and Family Therapists – Job Outlook
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