How to become a Counsellor

Counsellors assist people to identify and define their emotional issues and better understand themselves by explaining options, setting goals, providing therapy and helping them to take action. Counsellors may specialise in working with a particular group, such as people from non-English-speaking backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people or single parents. Alternatively, they may specialise in a service area such as health, drug and alcohol problems, accommodation, relationships, employment, grief and loss, stress management, child development or abuse issues.

Personal requirements of a Counsellor

  • Empathetic and caring
  • Good communication and listening skills
  • Maturity

Education & Training for a Counsellor

You can work as a counsellor without formal qualifications. Entry to this occupation may be improved if you have qualifications. You may like to consider a VET qualification in counselling. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. You can also become a counsellor by completing a degree in counselling, psychology or a related field. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English and mathematics are normally required. Institutions have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Additional Information

Students and graduates may be eligible for membership of the Australian Counselling Association. Visit their website for more information.

Duties & Tasks of a Counsellor


  • work with clients to find solutions to emotional, mental and lifestyle problems
  • act as facilitators in group sessions
  • work with other professionals such as medical practitioners, psychologists and social workers as part of a health management team
  • act as intermediaries in conflict-resolution.

Employment Opportunities for a Counsellor

Many counsellors are self-employed in their own counselling practices. Counsellors may also be employed by community service organisations, hospitals, schools, clinics and government departments. Large corporations and organisations often employ counsellors who specialise in workplace or organisational counselling. Competition is strong for available work.


Drug and Alcohol Counsellor

A drug and alcohol counsellor provides support and treatment for people with drug and alcohol dependency problems and develops strategies that assist them to set goals and affect and maintain change. They also provide community education.

Genetic Counsellor

A genetic counsellor provides support to individuals, couples and families by helping them understand the contribution of genetics to specific health conditions.


A mediator acts as a neutral third party that helps people to manage disputes and resolve conflict, as well as communicate with each other to achieve agreeable outcomes where appropriate. Mediators provide support to people in decision-making processes, which may include providing expert information and advice.

Family Counsellor

Marriage Counsellor

Avg. weekly wage:


Future growth:

Very strong

Employment by state:

ACT 2.6%

NSW 24.4%

NT 4.5%

QLD 11.8%

SA 6.2%

TAS 2.9%

VIC 33.5%

WA 14.1%

Hours worked:



Lower unemployment

Gender split:

Male 37%

Female 63%

Education level:

Not completed Year 12: 3.7%

Highest qualification is secondary school: 4.3%

Highest qualification is a Certificate 3 or 4: 13.3%

Highest qualification is a Diploma or Advanced Diploma: 26.6%

Highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 29.4%

Highest qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 20.5%

Age brackets:

15-19 - 0.1%

20-24 - 6.1%

25-34 - 26.8%

35-44 - 22.6%

45-54 - 19.5%

55-59 - 8.2%

60-64 - 7.1%

65 and Over - 9.5%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

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