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An individual who wants to become an adoption counselor typically completes high school and then goes on to college to earn a degree in a social-services-related field. A person may pursue this career after earning a bachelor’s degree, which takes about four years to complete. In some cases, however, aspiring counselors go on to pursue advanced degrees, which may require them to spend an additional year or two on their education. While a bachelor’s degree is enough to land a job as an adoption counselor, earning a master’s degree may make a person more hirable.
A person who wants to become an adoption counselor plans to make a career of assisting people through the adoption process. This may mean offering advice and insight into adoption, helping a family or individual prepare to adopt, or facilitating adoption-related services. Sometimes it may even mean working with children who need adoptive parents and biological parents of adoptive children as well.
Entry-level positions for adoption counselors typically require a successful job candidate to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a social-service-related field. For example, an individual may seek a degree in social work or counseling. Alternatively, an aspiring counselor may seek a degree in psychology, or in some cases, education, in preparation for this career. Some employers prefer to avoid hiring adoption counselors who are fresh out of college, so an aspiring counselor may need to obtain at least a little social work experience before competing for this job. For advancement in this position, an adoption counselor may need at least a master’s degree and several years of experience helping people through the adoption process.
Sometimes a person who wants to become an adoption counselor gains valuable experience in this field by completing an internship with an adoption center. Many aspiring counselors apply for these internships while they are still in college. After the aspiring counselor completes such an internship, he may receive a job offer from the agency with which he worked. If not, he may find it easier to secure a job with another agency because of his work experience.
In addition to education, a person who wants to become an adoption counselor usually needs to understand his jurisdiction’s adoption laws and processes. He should also understand the psychological aspects involved in adoption as they relate to the biological parents, adoptive parents, and adopted children. Additionally, knowledge of the rights of birth parents and paternity issues is critical.