What does a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor do?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2019
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A vocational rehabilitation counselor is a licensed professional who helps people recover from physical injury, mental disorders, and substance abuse problems so that they may find meaningful employment or successfully return to their previous jobs. Counselors meet regularly with clients to monitor their progress in recovery, discuss their options, and help them develop and improve their job skills. Many professionals have access to governmental funding information and job placement resources to further assist their clients.

People who are recovering from accidents, addiction, or chronic mental issues often struggle when returning to work or looking for new jobs. Vocational rehabilitation counselors provide encouragement and essential information to such people. A counselor may interview a client to determine his or her vocational goals, skills, and limitations. He or she will explain the options a client may have and support him or her in actively seeking work. A vocational rehabilitation counselor may help a client access career placement resources, organize a resume, fill out applications, and set up interviews.


The type of clients a vocational rehabilitation counselor might work with can vary greatly, from individuals who are experiencing stress or depression to accident victims who have developed severe physical or mental disabilities. A counselor must be comfortable working with a broad range of people and dealing with very different disorders. He or she may be required to research a specific client's condition to better understand what the person is going through and determine the best means of helping him or her recover.

To become a vocational rehabilitation counselor, a person must typically obtain at least a master's degree in counseling. After the completion of a master's degree program, a new counselor can begin working under the supervision of experienced counselors for about two years. A counselor is often evaluated on his or her performance and given advice on how to improve services. After the supervisory period, he or she can take a written licensing exam administered by his or her state or country. Additional certification is not usually required, though some counselors choose to take nationally recognized certifying exams to strengthen their credentials and improve their chances of finding work.

Steady advances in medicine, treatment techniques, prosthetic devices, and workplace equipment require a vocational rehabilitation counselor to engage in continuing education and research. He or she needs to stay up to date on such advances in order to help clients take advantage of every opportunity in recovering from their disabilities and engaging in meaningful work. In fact, some states and countries require counselors to take continuing education courses to maintain their licenses.


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Post 6

They don't really help the clients much. The client does all of the work that the counselor should be doing. The end result is a very frustrated client who quits and goes elsewhere or does nothing at all but wait for time to pass so they can hurry up and die.

Post 5

I've been working with a vocational rehab counselor since April. The first one was promoted and I got the next one in June. My company's worker's compensation carrier is trying to force me back to work after five years, even though I have few transferable skills and am only able to do sedentary work with sitting, standing and walking restrictions. They don't want to pay for any retraining, so the counselor has been trying to teach me computer skills in programs she knows little about! I've done the free online courses, but they were of little value.

This woman is supposed to be a professional who is setting the proper example and she's only been on time to three of

our eight meetings! The closest she came was five minutes late and the other four times she was between 20 and 30 minutes late, with the most ridiculous excuses I've ever heard!

Had it been me who was late, I would have been deemed uncooperative and my disability checks stopped. She wants to do practice interviews all the time, and she wants me to make up the interviews for positions I don't come close to qualifying for by picking out key words that describe me and making up questions on them. I've never been through such a frustrating, useless waste of time and effort in my life, on both the so called training and the practice interviews!

Post 4

As a vocational counselor I started out at $37,000 and make more than $60,000 in about five years. I guess your pay rate depends on where you live. I'm from Michigan.

Post 3

The pay is very low for someone who is required to have a masters degree. Typically around $30K/year. This is only about half what it should be.

I got my masters in vocational rehab and I never worked a day as a counselor. I stayed in grad school and got another grad degree that would get me a good paying job. To me, it was insulting to offer high school dropout wages to someone who is so educated. The truth is that they are paid so little because they are not important and are not needed.

The more important a job is and the more in demand you are the more you are paid. It is basic capitalism.

Post 2

I like that many people working in vocational rehabilitation services have to have continued education. Like teachers and medical professionals, people who assist others in any sort of rehabilitation need to be kept up to date on any advances in their field, any changes in the infrastructure of the services they offer, and informed on how effective their programs are proving to be. It is also just good for people in any line of work to have to be tested regularly to make sure they still remember previous training and can still maintain critical thinking skills.

Post 1

I wish you would have the an average pay rate for specific job classifications. However, thanks for all your informative info. I am exploring your website to help me fully prepare for a vocational rehabilitation interview.

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