You can travel a couple of different paths to a rehabilitation counselor career. However, you'll find these paths generally begin with a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling or a similar field. If this seems a bit excessive, remember you'll be assessing clients' needs and providing mental health counseling where appropriate. Many employers want to know you have those demonstrated skills; it helps them cover their posteriors if a problem arises. You demonstrate those assessment and counseling skills by completing a supervised internship. However, here's the good news: Many schools will accept almost any type of bachelor's degree for entry into the master's program.
If a rehabilitation counselor career interests you, but a master's program is not a realistic option, understand some employers may hire bachelor's degree grads who have a rehabilitation and disability focus. However, your background may limit the types of client services you can provide.
Does this all sound a bit too straightforward? Well, then we'll throw in a new wrinkle. Some employers want rehab counselors to obtain a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor credential. To get this piece of paper, you need advanced education and applicable work experience. You must also complete a clinically supervised evaluation and pass a certification test. If that's not enough, you have to complete continuing education to keep your certification. The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification is in charge of the entire process.
Finally, let's assume you want your own Rehabilitation Counselor practice. Now you've really got to jump through some hoops (e.g., obtain a license). Licensing is a rather daunting process. First, you need a master's degree. Next, you need between 2,000 and 3,000 hours of supervised experience in a clinical setting. Then there's that pesky state exam, along with an annual quota of continuing ed credits. The National Board of Certified Counselors lists all the requirements for your state's regulating board.