How to Become an Ethnic Counseling: Career Advice & Information

Overview & Salaries


Ethnic counselors are, first and foremost, counselors—they help clients overcome mental health problems like anxiety or depression, or behavioral problems such as anger. But ethnic counselors specialize in helping people from specific races and cultures, who often face problems it can be difficult for others to understand completely. Also, the way people from different cultures perceive, and speak about, their problems can vary widely. So ethnic counselors can do a lot of good—which is partly why the field is growing fast.


Annual salaries for ethnic counselors will vary depending on your experience, education level, and expertise. In 2012, the average annual salary for mental health counselors—a group including ethnic counselors—working in the U.S. was $43,700 per year.

For more information on what parts of the country have the most opportunity for ethnic counselors, click through to our Best Places to Work tab for information on the number of people employed and the average salary in each state.

Discover the Best Cities and States to Work in Ethnic Counseling

Pennsylvania has the highest employment numbers in the nation for mental health counselors (although it’s not clear how many of these are ethnic counselors) with 12,260 professionals working statewide, and earning an annual mean wage of $43,110. California is second in the United States, where 9,910 are participating in the career, and making an annual average salary of $46,970.

The metro areas employing the most counselors are:

  • Philadelphia (5,020)
  • Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria (3,520)
  • New York-White Plains (3,340)

The metro areas employing the highest concentration of counselors are:

  • Lynchburg, VA (5.88 per thousand)
  • Great Falls, MT (5.82 per thousand)

The metro areas employing the best-paid counselors are:

  • Ocean City, NJ (average salary $71,090)
  • Tyler, TX (average salary $69,930)

Employment and Salary Information for Ethnic Counselors

Use our interactive map below to find out which areas of the United States are currently experiencing the greatest amount of growth and job availability for graduates looking for a career as an ethnic counselor. The associated information has been gathered from Bureau of Labor statistics, representing data collected in 2012.

Employment and Information Data for Ethnic Counseling

Why Become An Ethnic Counselor?

Counseling can improve people’s lives or even save them. There are plenty of good reasons to want to become an ethnic counselor in particular:

  • Extremely rapid industry growth. Counseling in general will grow by a projected 29% between 2012 and 2022—much, much faster than the average job.
  • Be a specialist. You’ll be able to do everything a generalist counselor does, and more.
  • Get people’s lives back on track. Help people suffering from mental illness or going through tough experiences like divorce, unemployment, or grief.
  • Work with people who might not otherwise get help. Ethnic counselors are attuned to problems outsiders might not easily understand. Your help might be what someone needs.

Ethnic Counselor: What You Need To Know

Ethnic counselors need all a counselor’s skills—the ability to identify a problem, prepare a plan of treatment, and work sensitively with a client to resolve the problem. In addition, they need a deep understanding of the cultural communities they serve. A working knowledge of these skill sets will help to set you apart from other candidates.

  • Counseling
  • Treatment Plans
  • Psychology / Understanding of Mental Illness
  • Understanding of Ethnic Group / Culture
  • Interpersonal Skills

Feel like you’ve got a lot to learn? Get more information about ethnic counseling careers, degrees, and applicable courses from one of the schools below.

Degree Options for Ethnic Counseling Careers

Master’s degree

Generally, those in this field will have a master’s degree in psychology, social work, counseling, marriage and family therapy, or similar field. Ethnic counselors will also need to show familiarity with the culture they intend to specialize in, either through experience or study. Students with a bachelor’s degree in most disciplines will be eligible to go on to a master’s in one of those disciplines.

Most states will also require ethnic counselors to become licensed prior to being able to practice in the field, which often requires counselors to earn a master’s degree and complete between 2,000 and 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. Afterward, ethnic counselors who need to obtain their license must pass a state-recognized exam, as well as maintaining their license through yearly continuing education classes.