To become a counselor, you typically need at least a master's degree, although a doctorate is often preferred. You will also need to be licenses in the state where you practice, and licensure requirements vary by state. You should research the counseling programs that best meet your needs, career goals, and licensure requirements as you look toward your future career. Master's degrees and doctoral degrees in counseling vary by school and some programs offer training in specific areas of counseling. As a result, student that have chosen to pursue a degree with an emphasis in one area have the opportunity to study, research and explore sub-specialties in the field. Once you complete your degree, you will possess the skills, tools and knowledge to practice as a counselor with targeted groups of patients and clients. Keep in mind that you may need to complete additional licensure and certification requirements to practice with a counseling sub-specialty.
Daniel recommends the following next steps:
There are different types of counselors. There are Guidance Counselors, Career Counselors, Life Coaches and Mental Health Counselors. Each has a different set of educational requirements to perform the "counseling" function.
Since I am not aware of the type of counseling that interests you, I suggest that you go to the website of the American Counseling Association and peruse it. It might help you to formulate an educational plan for your future.
As an FYI, Mental Health Counselors generally need a master's degree plus additional credentialing in order to perform that function. The website that I have mentioned with speak to the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credential which is one of many types of mental health counselors.
You need to be aware of the fact that counseling covers a wide range of topics. In my case, I've spent the better part of (dramatic pause) half a century learning about all the things I counsel people on. 40 of those years were in applying the principles I talk about. Much counseling doesn't take much outside preparation at all. But a true professional can range all the way to a psychiatric counselor or psychiatrist. Be aware that this position is an MD -- a medical degree is required. And that STARTS at seven years of studies followed by residency. So the title "counselor" is pretty vague. But it can be quite a significant investment in time and effort. You should judge it by whether you enjoy it. And if you do, it would be hard to actually prevent you from working that hard. It'll be the way you'll love it and you'll be great at it.