Rehabilitation counselors provide services that help elderly or disabled individuals live independently. This career typically requires a master's degree, and in some cases, may require licensing or certification. While there is no set maximum income for a rehabilitation counselor, there are certain circumstances that can contribute to higher pay.
National Pay Range
As of 2012, rehabilitation counselors working in the U.S. reported an average pay of $17.95 an hour and $37,330 per year -- relatively low pay for a position that requires a master's degree. However some counselors made considerably more than others, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the highest-paid 10 percent of these professionals earned $28.52 or more per hour and $59,330 per year. Those at the higher end of the pay scale tend to be more experienced workers, as well as those working in geographical areas or for types of employers that have higher average rates of pay.
Though all rehabilitation counselors working in the United States averaged $37,330 per year in 2012, some areas paid considerably higher average salaries for this occupation. The highest-paying state in the nation was New Jersey, with an average pay of $55,840 per year. Alaska also had a high average salary, $52,680, as did Rhode Island at $51,590. The highest-paying nonmetropolitan area of the country was Southwestern Alaska, at $59,710 per year. The highest-paying metropolitan areas were Trenton, New Jersey at $65,720 per year and the Newark-Union area of New Jersey and Pennsylvania at $60,280 per year.
About a third of rehabilitation counselors were employed by private vocational services as of 2012, which paid a relatively low average salary of $33,530 per year. However, some employers paid considerably more. For example, government workers averaged $43,410 at the local level and $45,700 at the state level. The very highest pay was reported by counselors employed by insurance carriers, who averaged $56,970 per year. Those employed by educational support services averaged $54,680 per year, and those working for general hospitals averaged $52,060.
Because of the increasing population of elderly Americans, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that jobs for rehabilitation counselors will grow at a rate of 28 percent between 2010 and 2020, double the expected average rate of job growth for all occupations. However much of this growth is expected in relatively low-paying employment sectors, such as vocational rehabilitation services and individual and family services. Jobs in higher-paying employment sectors are not expected to grow as quickly and these jobs will be much harder to find.