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Career and Education Opportunities for Mental Health Counselors in Waco, Texas

Mental health counselor career and educational opportunities abound in Waco, Texas. There are currently 2,950 jobs for mental health counselors in Texas and this is projected to grow by 27% to 3,760 jobs by 2016. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for mental health counselors are expected to grow by about 24.0%. In general, mental health counselors counsel with emphasis on prevention.

Mental health counselors earn approximately $16 per hour or $35,300 per year on average in Texas. Nationally they average about $17 per hour or $36,810 yearly. Compared with people working in the overall category of Counseling and Therapy, people working as mental health counselors in Texas earn less. They earn less than people working in the overall category of Counseling and Therapy nationally. People working as mental health counselors can fill a number of jobs, such as: mental health program specialist, family counselor, and crisis clinician.

The Waco area is home to seven schools of higher education, including one within twenty-five miles of Waco where you can get a degree as a mental health counselor. Mental health counselors usually hold a Master's degree, so it will take about six years to learn to be a mental health counselor if you already have a high school diploma, or just 2 years if you have a Bachelor's degree.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Mental Health Counselor

Mental Health Counselor video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, mental health counselors counsel with emphasis on prevention. They also work with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental health.

Mental health counselors maintain confidentiality of records relating to clients' treatment. They also encourage clients to express their feelings and consider what is happening in their lives, and help them to evolve insight into themselves and their relationships. Equally important, mental health counselors have to collect data related to clients through interviews and tests. They are often called upon to guide clients in the development of skills and strategies for dealing with their problems. They are expected to modify treatment efforts and approaches as needed to comply with changes in clients' status. Finally, mental health counselors formulate, organize and lead structured programs of counseling, work, study, recreation and social activities for clients.

Every day, mental health counselors are expected to be able to piece together evidence to, in some sense, diagnose what is going on in a situation. They need to evaluate problems as they arise. It is also important that they listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for mental health counselors to monitor clients' use of medications. They are often called upon to formulate and conduct programs to stop substance abuse or improve community health and counseling services. They also supervise other counselors, social service staff and graduate students. They are sometimes expected to schedule and direct employee workshops and training about mental health issues. Somewhat less frequently, mental health counselors are also expected to guide clients in the development of skills and strategies for dealing with their problems.

Mental health counselors sometimes are asked to design and implement treatment plans on the basis of clinical experience and knowledge. They also have to be able to ready and maintain all required treatment records and reports And finally, they sometimes have to learn about new developments in their field by reading professional literature, attending courses and seminars, and establishing and maintaining contact with other social service agencies.

Like many other jobs, mental health counselors must have strong self control in the face of challenging situations and have a strong concern for others.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Waco include:

  • Child and Family Services Worker. Provide social services and assistance to improve the social and psychological functioning of children and their families and to maximize the family well-being and the academic functioning of children. May assist single parents, arrange adoptions, and find foster homes for abandoned or abused children. In schools, they address such problems as teenage pregnancy, misbehavior, and truancy. May also advise teachers on how to deal with problem children.
  • Marriage and Family Therapist. Diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, whether cognitive, or behavioral, within the context of marriage and family systems. Apply psychotherapeutic and family systems theories and techniques in the delivery of professional services to individuals, couples, and families for the purpose of treating such diagnosed nervous and mental disorders.
  • Substance Abuse Specialist. Counsel and advise individuals with alcohol, tobacco, or other problems, such as gambling and eating disorders. May counsel individuals, families, or groups or engage in prevention programs.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Mental Health Counselor Training

McLennan Community College - Waco, TX

McLennan Community College, 1400 College Dr, Waco, TX 76708. McLennan Community College is a medium sized college located in Waco, Texas. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 7,887 students. McLennan Community College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling which graduated two and four students respectively in 2008.


Certified In Thanatology: Certification in Thanatology (CT) is a foundation certification that enhances the professional designation established by the academic discipline of each certificate holder.

For more information, see the Association for Death Education and Counseling website.

Distance Credentialed counselor: A Distance Credentialed Counselor (DCC) will be nationally recognized as a professional with training in best practices in Distance Counseling.

For more information, see the Center for Credentialing & Education, Inc. website.


Waco, Texas
Waco, Texas photo by Aboxorocks

Waco is situated in Mclennan County, Texas. It has a population of over 124,009, which has grown by 9.0% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Waco, 82, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Waco are valued at $144,900 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, three hundred eighty-eight new homes were built in Waco, down from five hundred fifty the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Waco are educational services, health care, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, educational services, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 18 minutes. More than 18.6% of Waco residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 7.4%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Waco is 7.4%, which is less than Texas's average of 8.1%.

The percentage of Waco residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 60.5%, is more than both the national and state average. El Calvario Presbyterian Church, Abundant New Life Assembly of God Church and Adams Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church are among the churches located in Waco. The most prominent religious groups are the Southern Baptist Convention, the Catholic Church and the United Methodist Church.

Waco is home to the Helen Marie Taylor Museum and the Potts Interchange as well as Heart O Texas Coliseum and Kathy Ball Park. Shopping malls in the area include Lake Air Shopping Center and Richland Shopping Center. Visitors to Waco can choose from Budget Inn, America's Best Inns and Best Western Old Main Lodge for temporary stays in the area.