How to Become a

Grief Counselor

The complete career guide to be a Grief Counselor: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $47,950
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 11%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Good Entry Level Salary
    Career Attribute

Grief counselors work with patients who’ve recently lost loved ones and help patients work through their grief, providing advice on strategies, behaviors, and thought-pattern changes. Grief counselors equip patients with strategies designed to overcome grief and move on with their lives.

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What is a Grief Counselor?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in grief counselor roles:

  • Counsel patients in a variety of settings, including one-on-one counseling, family counseling, or group counseling
  • Provide patients with strategies and guidance designed to overcome grief and move on with life
  • Actively listen to patients and encourage them to share their thoughts openly in counseling
  • Refer patients to other services and providers when necessary
  • Perform administrative functions like appointment scheduling and health insurance billing

A Day in the Life

Grief counselors are experts in helping patients deal with and overcome grief after the loss of a loved one. They see patients who are struggling to overcome grief on their own and provide them with techniques, strategies, and thought-pattern changes that enable patients to overcome grief and move on with their lives. They may provide patients with an education on the stages of grief in order to illustrate that certain thoughts and actions are normal, and they help patients overcome negative thoughts and behaviors resulting from their grief.

Grief counselors most commonly meet with patients in a one-on-one setting, though they may conduct family or group counseling sessions as well. They encourage patients to share their thoughts and feelings openly, and actively listen in order to properly understand and guide patients to better mental health. Counselors do not prescribe medications to patients, so when depression or other disorders cannot be resolved by thought or behavior changes, they may refer patients to other providers.

Many grief counselors work in private practices—either owned by themselves or other counselors or psychologists—so they may have administrative responsibilities as well. They may need to schedule appointments, bill patients and insurance companies, and set up contracts with health insurance providers to ensure coverage for counseling services. In some offices, grief counselors may perform these tasks him/herself; in others, the counselor may employ an assistant for administrative tasks.

Typical Work Schedule

Most grief counselors work full-time schedules. They may choose to work traditional business hours, or they may make themselves available in evenings or on weekends to accommodate patient schedules.

Projected Job Growth

In recent years, more health insurance providers have begun covering mental health counseling services, so more people are taking advantages of these services. This is expected to increase the demand for grief counselors in the coming decade.

Typical Employers

Most grief counselors work in private practices. However, some may also be employed by hospitals, mental health facilities, or large businesses who keep grief counselors on staff to handle instances of employee death that affect large portions of a workforce.

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How To Become a Grief Counselor

To become a grief counselor, you’ll need to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree. Aspiring grief counselors start off their education by pursuing bachelor’s degrees in fields related to grief counseling, such as psychology, counseling, or sociology. However, it’s not absolutely required to have a degree in a related field to be accepted into a master’s degree program. Any bachelor’s degree may be accepted as long as the student has taken relevant courses in psychology and human behavior.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, students move on to pursue master’s degrees. Most commonly, aspiring grief counselors pursue counseling-focused graduate degrees, though a general psychology degree may be sufficient as well. However, keep in mind that psychologists are focused on both counseling and research, so some of the coursework for a psychology degree may not apply to the responsibilities you’ll have as a grief counselor.

With a bachelor’s and master’s degree, you’ll be ready to pursue state licensure as a counselor. All states require counselors to be licensed to perform their roles, and the process of earning a license usually entails completing both a bachelor’s and master’s degree program, completing an internship or residency under an experienced grief counselor, and passing a written examination. Additionally, most states also require counselors to complete continuing education requirements to maintain licensure.

Grief Counselor Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Grief Counselor salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Grief Counselor's can make an average annual salary of $47,950, or $23 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $34,010 or $16 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #416 Nationally for All Careers

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Grief Counselor. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Grief Counselors

  • 5.4%   Doctorate
  • 48%   Masters
  • 25.1%   Bachelors
  • 5.4%   Associates
  • 10.1%   College
  • 5%   High School
  • 1%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Grief Counselor job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 3,400 jobs for a total of 34,400 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 11% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #161 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Grief Counselors

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Elementary and secondary schools; local 4,600 300 0%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 4,400 300 0%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 2,700 --- ---

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