How to Become an HIV Counselor

Becoming an HIV Counselor requires at least an undergraduate degree in a related field, and preferably a postgraduate degree. Most accredited colleges and universities offer coursework in the fields of public health, social work, or counselling, which could lead to this career choice. The average national HIV Counselor 2010 salaries based upon this type of education and at least one year of related work experience pay £28,600; public health education counsellors earn £46,800, according to Without a degree, a minimum of three years work experience in an HIV prevention program or related human services field such as social work, psychology, nursing, counselling or public health education is accepted.

In lieu of working as an HIV Counselor, you may volunteer with the American Red Cross as an HIV/AIDS Instructor.

Attend a college or university and obtain a bachelor's degree in a related health area. This is usually a minimal requirement for counselling in any field.

Complete additional coursework. Peer counselling, treatment services, rapid test training, counselling for high-risk patients, pharmacology, blood borne pathogens, etc. will enhance your counselling skills and understanding of the field. Check with your state health department or local public health agency about certified training courses in your area.

Attend graduate school. Most public health degree programs at accredited colleges and universities include in-depth review courses in HIV facts, education, prevention, and disease management, as well as other critical courses such as epidemiology, biostatistics, and health promotion. Nursing, Social Work, Psychology, and Marriage and Family Therapy are related fields through which it is also possible to work as an HIV Counselor.

Complete an HIV/AIDS Instructor Training course through your local Red Cross if you are interested in working with HIV/AIDS prevention, instead of becoming a counsellor. Courses offered are Basic HIV/AIDS Starter Facts Course, HIV/AIDS Facts Practice Course, and Fundamentals Instructor Course. These courses allow speaking and teaching opportunities to community groups, schools, and teens. Working with the Red Cross in this position is voluntary.


The counselling of people with HIV is considered an important tool in the prevention of disease transmission, and is valued as a fundamental psychosocial aspect of living with the disease. Undergraduate and graduate degrees provide the most experience, knowledge and training, and will best outfit you for a career position as an HIV Counselor.

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Things Needed

  • Certification of Pre- and Post-HIV test counselling
  • Experience in case management, counselling, crisis intervention, and implementation of health programs
  • A BA and/or a MA degree in a related health field

About the Author

Based in Maple Valley, Wash., Amy Croan began writing professionally in 1997 while working in chronic disease management, health promotion, as a Red Cross HIV/AIDS instructor and creating physician- and patient-education materials for a major national health insurance company. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Master of Public Health from the University of South Carolina.

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