To work as a residential counselor, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma or equivalent; and
- complete short-term, on-the-job training.
Education after high school
The training required varies by type of facility and resident. Some counselors provide only basic supervision and do not need special training or qualifications. Others teach residents correct behaviors, supervise other workers, and prepare reports. These counselors need specialized training and qualifications.
While a high school diploma is the minimum requirement, many residential counselors have some college or a bachelor's degree. It is more common for residential counselors in certain settings to have master's degrees.
Recommended areas of study include social work, human services, psychology, and sociology. Community colleges and universities offer degrees in these areas.
Experience as a camp counselor is good background for this occupation.
New counselors receive training on the job. As a new counselor you learn to observe patients and record information. You also learn to conduct patient interviews, and follow treatment plans. In addition, you learn to perform crisis intervention and use proper case management methods. Training typically lasts up to one month.
Employers in this field tend to offer seminars and workshops for all employees to improve their skills.
The military trains people to work as caseworkers and counselors. This training lasts from eight to ten weeks. Further training occurs on the job and through advanced courses.