Becoming a mental health professional of any kind is an admirable and rewarding career choice. However, similar to most careers in mental health, choosing a counseling profession has its own set of benefits and hardships. Working as a specialized counselor lets you help those dealing with significant problems, but before you commit to spending a lot of time in college, you may want to look at the average marriage and family counselor salary. It takes a great deal of time and dedication for licensed professional counselors to start practicing their counseling profession.
According to the American Counseling Association, the amount you can earn yearly as a marriage counselor, a family counselor, or both, often depends on many factors. These factors include your level of experience, how comfortable your patients feel working with you, the type of patients you work with and even where you live. Based on your city’s cost of living, you may earn more or less than you expect. You should look at what these counselors do, the educational requirements for the job and how much you can make. Continue reading to learn about what the journey for a mental health professional choosing to specialize in marriage and family counseling typically looks like…
What do Family and Marriage Counselors Do?
Marriage and family counselors are professional therapists responsible for working with patients struggling in their personal lives. You might work with separated couples who are on the brink of divorce because of financial problems or infidelity, but you’ll likely work with entire families too. Some counselors see children diagnosed with mental conditions and those acting out in ways like bullying others or stealing. You’re the one responsible with helping them talk through their problems, finding possible solutions, and hopefully help improve their mental health. Most counselors will perform talk therapy with their patients but the right counselor will know which form of therapy is best.
Becoming a Counselor
Becoming a licensed professional counselor isn’t something you can do overnight or even within a few years. In addition to going to college and getting your bachelor’s degree, you must enroll in and complete a graduate degree program in counseling. These programs usually include at least 1,000 hours of fieldwork that lets you work with patients under the supervision of other counselors. You may need a PhD in counseling too, which gives you the chance to specialize in working with a specific type of patient or group of people. Check with your state about any other licensing requirements it has in place for counselors. The American Counseling Association is also a great resource for more examples on how to achieve your counseling goals.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are just over 32,000 professionals working as marriage and family counselors in the United States. The mean wage among those professionals is $48,600 a year or $23.37 an hour. The BLS also found that the top 10% of those working in this field earn more than $80,000 a year and that the bottom 10% earn less than $31,000 a year. These figures do not include any perks or benefits you might get from your employer, including health insurance or paid time off.
Factors That Determine Your Pay
The average marriage and family counselor salary depends on a number of factors, including where you live and where you work. Counselors working for the government, similar to social workers, often earn less than those who work for private firms. If you live in a major city, you’ll often earn more than your peers because of the city’s higher cost of living. The BLS lists the highest earners as those living in California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida. Your pay can also range based on your level of experience and education as well as whether you accept private insurance.
Counselors work with patients struggling to cope with issues on their own. Those working in the marriage and family field may work with couples and their children dealing with divorce and other serious problems. The average marriage and family counselor salary depends on where you work, where you live and even the experience and education that you have.
Other Opportunities with your Degree and Experience
While many family and marriage counselors practice their profession in their private practices, as a counselor you may find job opportunities in other facets. There is broad range of job opportunities if you have earned a degree in this field. For example, guidance counselors who work with children in schools. More examples of job opportunities may include…
- Camp counselor
- Social work
- Residential counselor
- Youth counselor
- Health counselor
- Substance abuse counselor
- Grief Counselor
- Behavioral Therapist
- Career counselor