Today, the term "crisis" appears in all forms of media, including online news, television shows, and newspaper headlines. When a crisis occurs — whether physical, mental, or social — people are sometimes driven to their breaking points. They cannot handle scenarios where they lack skills and/or resources.

A crisis intervention professional intervenes when these problematic scenarios occur. Although it's a rewarding and satisfying profession, students pursuing a career in crisis intervention should think carefully about whether the profession is right for them. It's a demanding job with the possibility of long hours, challenging circumstances, and a high risk of burnout.

Step 1: Complete a Crisis Intervention Specialist Degree

A bachelor's degree is the initial requirement for a job in crisis intervention. Majors that include psychology, sociology, gender and women's studies, education, or social work are often chosen by students. Note that you can work in crisis intervention with a bachelor's degree but not in one-on-one settings with patients. A master's degree in social work or psychology is necessary for individual intervention counseling.

You can pursue a master's in psychology or counseling after receiving your bachelor's degree since both will allow you to deal with patients individually. You can work on more involved issues in various situations with an advanced degree. Crisis counseling is often significant at the master's level (and occasionally at the bachelor's level), and a more advanced degree offers a more substantial basis for working as a crisis intervention specialist.

Some specialists may even decide to pursue a Ph.D., which calls for them to contribute significantly to the standard body of knowledge by publishing in peer-reviewed journals and understanding the discipline’s fundamental principles. A Ph.D. can help you progress professionally and make finding work in academia or as a crisis intervention instructor easier.

Step 2: Become Licensed as a Crisis Intervention Specialist

Other than what's often necessary for a license to operate in the profession, there are no formal education or training requirements to become a crisis intervention expert. For instance, you only need a license before you can work in a large company, perform individual crisis management out of your office, or find employment at a counseling facility.

Since so few educational institutions provide a course of study or degree focused on crisis intervention, many professionals opt for certifications (such as those offered by the American Institute of Health Care Professionals [AIHCP]) instead, which also help them develop in their employment.

Certification demonstrates that an applicant has experience above and beyond what an existing, more generic degree shows. Crisis intervention professionals can get certified in various areas, including intervention theory, treatment planning, nonviolent crisis intervention, therapeutic stress management, trauma and crisis counseling, intervention evaluation and treatment, and more.

Internship / Practicum Experience

Numerous crisis intervention positions in the public and commercial sectors and nonprofit organizations provide possibilities for continuing education, allowing specialists to add to their credentials and broaden their career options.


While there's no standardized exam or test for crisis intervention specialization per se, those who choose to be certified by the AIHCP (see above) must pass examinations related to their continuing education courses.

State Requirements

Different states have different licensing requirements for crisis intervention specialists. Check with your state for the requirements that apply to you.

Step 3: Apply for a Crisis Intervention Specialist Job

A counselor's primary responsibility as a crisis intervention expert is to support a patient's psychological reaction to a given circumstance. Short-term crises often last no more than a month, but within those four weeks, a person will need more care during the acute time, which typically progressively fades away. However, this doesn't imply that a crisis's consequences don't last. For this reason, crisis intervention specialists need to undergo specific training to lessen emotional harm that's capable of stretching on for a long time.

To assist those impacted by a crisis, a crisis intervention professional might meet with clients at their homes, workplaces, or other locations where a terrible incident has happened. They may also instruct other individuals in crisis intervention and services coordination to assist people in receiving the care they need. If required, they may suggest that those who are impacted seek long-term therapy if it's evident that just a few sessions won't be sufficient to treat emotional trauma.

To succeed in their position, a crisis intervention professional requires a wide range of knowledge and skills. These consist of, but are not always limited to:

• Recognizing the usual repercussions of loss and sorrow

• Being cognizant of the social services that are offered to various people

• Coordinating services with various governmental or humanitarian agencies

• Possessing empathetic listening abilities

• Having the capacity to support a patient in making healthier decisions professionally and calmly, without passing judgment

• Knowing the development of post-traumatic emotional states

What Careers Can I Pursue With a Crisis Intervention Specialist Degree?

Prospective crisis intervention experts should thoroughly research a job description before taking a position. Long hours and challenging settings are something that some individuals can handle while others cannot. Similarly to this, watching abuse and assisting victims may inspire sympathy in some people while horrifying them to the point of being rendered helpless and ineffectual. Before taking a position in this field, applicants must know their nature and skills and what each job entails. If such awareness doesn't exist, the outcome can be quick burnout.

In any event, a crisis intervention specialist must schedule downtime to recover. Even individuals who enjoy their jobs risk burning out in such a taxing role. It's much easier to prevent sudden burnout by scheduling sufficient break time and self-care.

In 2019, 351,000 substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (which include crisis intervention specialists) were employed in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselor employment is expected to grow at a 22% rate during the 2021-2031 decade, generating some 77,500 new positions.

Where Can I Work With a Crisis Intervention Specialist Degree?

Specialists in crisis intervention may work in various locations, such as classrooms, offices, mental hospitals, refugee camps, medical facilities, clinics, their own offices, or in many places. Crisis counselors are often employed by state agencies and/or nonprofit groups, although these roles usually demand more education than others.

Telephone crisis experts, counselors who work directly with government organizations (such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA]), domestic abuse counselors, counselors at police departments, sexual assault intervention specialists, and other positions are all included in the field of crisis intervention.

Step 4: Learn About Crisis Intervention Specialist Salaries

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (which include crisis intervention specialists) earned an average yearly salary of $53,490 in the U.S. as of 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors' median annual wages, according to the BLS, range from $59,790 in California to $49,480 in Pennsylvania, two of the states with the most significant employment levels in this profession. A crisis intervention expert with an advanced degree who's worked in the field for a while is likely to make more money due to their degree and income generally increases with experience.

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