Who can study a postgraduate counselling course?
To enrol in a postgraduate counselling course, you need to have completed a bachelor’s degree. Some universities accept students who have completed equivalent prior learning. This includes having 5 years of relevant professional experience if you haven't completed an undergraduate degree.
Who would benefit from studying a postgraduate counselling course online?
You may benefit from studying an online course if you are:
- Looking to upskill in your counselling career with the goal of moving into a new role, going for a promotion at work or redefining your current knowledge and skills.
- In need of flexibility with your studies because you are busy with work and life commitments.
- Considering moving from a career in an area in healthcare to a career in counselling.
- Interested in studying at a university that is too far to travel to for on-campus classes.
Skills gained and learning outcomes for online counselling postgraduate studies
Postgraduate counselling qualifications help you develop skills you can use right away. Your studies will be focused on practical and experience-based learning and you’ll be able to put your skills to work in real-world settings through supervised placements. Build the skills you need to become a counsellor in your area of choice – for example, school or academic, careers, relationships, family or grief.
You’ll cover topics including:
- Counselling theory and approaches:
Research the key concepts and frameworks of modern counselling and analyse how they’re used in different social and cultural contexts.
- Mental health:
Learn about mental health and the symptoms of mental illness, along with appropriate guidance for people experiencing these symptoms.
- Ethical conduct:
Build your skills in ethical decision-making. Understand the dynamics of power and privilege in counselling relationships and how to navigate them.
- Diversity and cultural awareness:
Build your understanding of diversity in a counselling context. Learn to promote a strong sense of identity and culture, for example within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
- Creative practices:
Explore forms of expression that go beyond traditional talk-based approaches.
You’ll undertake both theoretical and practical learning to build the skills you need to help people as a counsellor. Key skills include:
- Core counselling skills:
Learn how to conduct a helping relationship and get to know the theory behind the practice.
- Self-awareness and reflective practice:
Build your ability to evaluate yourself and think critically about your own practice. Understand how your self-awareness contributes to the therapeutic process, personal growth and continuing development.
- Person-centred approaches to counselling:
Develop an approach to counselling that promotes self-discovery, embraces difference, builds strengths and helps people connect with themselves and their communities.
- Digital literacy:
Learn how technology can be incorporated into counselling and how it can help you support people in unique and far-reaching ways.
- Practical applications:
Build your practical counselling skills through supervised placements in clinical settings.
Careers in counselling
Support people who are navigating personal, professional and social challenges with a career in counselling.
Counsellors use a range of therapeutic techniques to help people work through their problems. You’ll provide a friendly ear for your clients, give them a safe space to tell their story and share the challenges they’re facing, and help them develop effective strategies to manage their issues.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, along with environmental and political unease, Australians need support now more than ever. In fact, job postings for counselling professionals increased by more than 50 per cent from 2020 to 2021.*
Counsellors are needed in many different sectors, including health, education and the corporate sector. A postgraduate counselling qualification can help you progress in your current career or to make a change. For example, if you’re a teacher wanting to transition into a school counsellor role, a counselling qualification may facilitate the change.
The type of counselling role you work towards will be shaped by your experience, existing qualifications and professional goals. Some of the options include career counsellor, academic counsellor, relationships counsellor and grief and loss counsellor.
Take the next step towards helping people as a counsellor. Enquire about postgraduate study today.
*According to reporting by Esmi (formerly Burning Glass International Inc.), an analytics company providing real-time job market data.
Career outcomes for postgraduate counselling courses
A postgraduate counselling qualification prepares you to help people manage their issues in a range of different settings. Whether you want to work in health care, business or education, a career in counselling can help you achieve your goals.
The following roles have strong future growth prospects according to labourmarketinsights.gov.au.
Family and marriage counsellors (titles vary)
- Salary average $112,000/year
- Family and marriage counsellors help couples and families work through personal difficulties
- Nearly 50 per cent of family and marriage counsellors have postgraduate qualifications
- Salary average $98,000/year
- School/student counsellors help students manage personal problems and learning difficulties, so they can get the most out of their education
- School/student counsellors help teachers and parents to develop strategies to better support students
- Nearly 50 per cent of school/student counsellors have postgraduate qualifications
Drug and alcohol counsellor
- Salary average $92,000/year
- Drug and alcohol counsellors support people experiencing drug and/or alcohol dependency
- Clients may be adults, young people, individuals or couples/families
- Many roles require formal qualifications in drug and alcohol counselling
- Postgraduate study may not be required for some roles, but can equip you with specialised skills that support better outcomes for clients
Other possible career paths, depending on your previous study and experience, include:
- Career counsellor
- Rehabilitation counsellor
- Mental health clinician
- Social work counsellor
The average salary for a counsellor in Australia was $107,000 in 2021, an increase of 12 per cent from $97,000 in 2019.* *According to reporting by Esmi (formerly Burning Glass International Inc.), an analytics company providing real-time job market data.
Choosing the right online counselling course for you
If you’re ready to start helping people overcome their challenges and thrive, postgraduate study in counselling could be a great choice for you.
Online study means you don’t have to disrupt the rest of your life while you gain your qualification. In some cases, you don’t even need to have an undergraduate qualification under your belt – just five years of relevant work experience.
Master's, Graduate Diploma, or Graduate Certificate?
Master’s degrees allow you to build skills and knowledge across different areas of counselling – for example person-centred approaches to counselling.
Many master's have graduate certificate and graduate diploma qualifications embedded within them. The embedded qualifications are earned after you have completed a set number of units of study. For example, if a master's degree takes 24 months part-time, a graduate certificate might be earned after 8 months and a graduate diploma after 16 months. This means you can work toward your master’s at your own pace but acquire new skills and career-boosting qualifications along the way. Many students use this approach to access new work opportunities while they are studying.
If you want start first with a graduate certificate with the option to go onto complete a graduate diploma or master's degree, you should confirm this pathway is available with the university you choose.
Generalist or Specialist?
Choose a university that offers both specialist and generalist graduate certificates that lead to a master’s degree. Look closely at the electives you can do. Do they match your career interests?
To make the best possible decision for you, start by reviewing the courses on offer in detail. If you need more information than what’s available online, have a chat with an enrolment advisor – they will help you understand which course is right for you.
Compile a list of the key questions you seek to answer while deciding which course to do. This list might include (but is not limited to) the following:
- How do the various courses on offer differ from one another?
- How do the providers differ? What are their points of difference that are of value to me?
- Does this program give me skills and knowledge I need to progress to the next stage of my counselling career?
- If I pick a specialisation/major, can I change my mind part-way through and study a different specialisation or take a generalist path?
- If I wanted to come back and study again in the future, does this degree offer me pathways?
- What support do the universities offer students?
- Are there any additional fees?
- Who teaches the course?