There are a number of universities and colleges around the United States that offer undergraduate rehabilitation services programs. However, entering the discipline usually require going to graduate school and earning a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. Degree requirements at the Master’s level range from 48 to 60 semester hours. The Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) is the accrediting body for rehabilitation counselors programs. Prospective students should inquire about CORE accreditation before applying to programs. If the program is not CORE accredited, the graduate will need a full year of work experience, under the supervision of a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, before being eligible to sit for the discipline’s examination.
Individuals who posses a Bachelor's degree in Rehabilitation Services, Psychology, Sociology, or other concentrations in the human service field are typically eligible to be employed by one of the many State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies and social service organizations, as Rehabilitation Counselor Aides. In some instances, individuals with a Bachelor's degree in Rehabilitation, or a related field, may be employed, or promoted to the position of a Rehabilitation Counselor if they have several years of experience in working with individuals with disabilities.
To aide in the expense of post-baccalaureate studies in the field of Rehabilitation Counseling, many university programs offer traineeship grants from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) that cover tuition and provide a stipend for living expenses. Many programs may also have small and limited number of research and/or graduate assistantships, and all American universities have an Office of Financial Aide.
A graduate of an accredited Rehabilitation Counselor training program is eligible for certification by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) upon completion of an approved internship and satisfactory performance on the certification examination. Although this certification is not required for employment in most settings, it represents professional recognition of an individual's education and competencies. Many states also offer certification for Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs). There are no licensure or certification requirements for Rehabilitation Counselor Aides.
Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors generally interview and advise socially, physically and/or mentally disabled individuals to aide them in determining and securing the kind of work that is suited to their capacities, interests, skills and talents. The Counselor's goal is to help their clients to become as independent as possible and/or remain self-sufficient employed citizens.
Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors perform under little supervision and work on a one-to-one basis with clients. They work with many professionals, such as physicians, psychologists, therapists, artificial limb and brace makers, social workers and other individuals and organizations to address and eliminate social and environmental barriers for individuals with disabilities.
Rehabilitation Counselors and Rehabilitation Counselor Aides may work in a wide variety of settings, including State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies, Independent Living Centers, Community Rehabilitation Programs, Alcohol and Drug programs, Mental Health Centers, Federal Government and private non-profit rehabilitation programs. Many employment settings offer the opportunity for counselors to specialize in working with certain disability groups such as the Learning Disabled, Spinal Cord Injured, Chronically Mentally Ill, Traumatic Head Injured, Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, etc.
Additional Information Source
Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification
300 N. Martingale Road, Suite 460
Schaumburg, Illinois 60173 U.S.A.
National Rehabilitation Counseling Association (NRCA)
PO Box 4480
Manassas, VA 20108