Everyone seems to be in therapy nowadays. From marriage counseling to family counseling, people are seeking advice from professionals to get over their personal troubles and conflicts. A budding field with a lot of growth potential, marriage and family therapist programs are on the rise and allow you to start on the fast track to a new career.
Marriage and Family Therapist Salary
Marriage and family therapists are often working for themselves in a private practice where they can establish their own hourly rates, but they can also work at:
- Substance abuse centers
- Nursing homes
- Mental health facilities
And you’ll also find many jobs working at another therapist’s private practice. There are a wide range of salaries as a result of this diverse workforce, and there are many cities that will pay more for a therapist than others.
Salaries in this field are up over $10,000 in the last 10-year period, with salary ranges from $37,250 – $62,750.
This range shows the bottom 25th percentile and the top 75th percentile respectively. But a clearer picture of the salary range that you can expect will be:
- $30,510 – $78,920
The higher-end correlates with the highest paid therapists that have been in the business for a long time.
The median salary was $48,040 in 2014, according to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
When looking at the average salary earned by marriage and family therapists in 2014, the figure is slightly above the median at $51,730. There are two other comparable fields that make more than these professionals:
- School psychologists ($74,030)
- Clinical social workers ($53,000)
When compared to other social services jobs, a marriage and family therapist makes a great living with a high career potential.
How to Become a Marriage Counselor
Marriage and family therapists will have a long road ahead before entering the field. The BLS shows that the majority of professionals in the field have their Master’s degree. Obtaining a Masters will take:
- 4 years to obtain a Bachelor’s degree
- 2 additional years to obtain a Master’s degree
So, you can expect to spend 6 years in school to get your degree. Some students are able to get their degree in under 5 years with a full 18-credit semester and going to school during the summer months to move the process along even faster.
A bachelor’s degree in most fields is accepted to enter into a Master’s program.
When a student decides to pursue this field, they’ll want to enter into a Master’s program in one of the following concentrations:
- Mental health
- Clinical mental health counseling
- Marriage and family therapy
Counseling programs are recommended, as they’ll prepare the potential therapist to properly recognize mental and emotional disorders that may otherwise be overlooked without proper training.
It’s important to search for programs that offer accreditation from the following:
- The Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs
But a degree from a highly respected college or university will suffice, too.
An internship or residency will be required for the completion of most degree programs. This is a time when students can accelerate their careers further with hands-on experience and training. During a residency, therapists will be under the supervision of a licensed counselor and will be able to learn how to provide:
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
- Therapeutic intervention
Keep in mind that therapists do not need to enter into marriage and family therapy in most cases. A degree will allow you to enter into a variety of specialties and test the water to find a career that you like best.
But before you can expect to earn a marriage and family therapist salary, you’ll also need to be licensed.
Marriage and Family Therapist Licensing
All states in the United States require a marriage and family therapist to be licensed. Licensing is required on a state basis, and requirements for licensing are:
- Master’s degree
- 2,000 – 4,000 hours of clinical experience (post degree)
A state-recognized exam will be required as well as yearly education classes to stay at the forefront of the industry.
The hourly clinical experience requirement is equivalent to 50, 40-hour work weeks, so a full year of clinical experience as an internship. If your state requires 4,000 hours of clinical experience, you can expect to spend 2 years in an internship before being granted your license.
Marriage and Family Therapist Jobs
Every field has cities where the pay is higher and the demand is higher. You’ll find that a marriage counselor salary is higher in the following cities:
- Raleigh, North Carolina: The average salary in Raleigh in this field was $80,650 in 2014.
- Reno, Nevada: The average salary in Reno in this field was $74,720 in 2014.
- Salinas, California: The average salary in Salinas in this field was $73,920 in 2014.
- Bakersfield, California: The average salary in Bakersfield in this field was $73,570 in 2014.
- Atlantic City, New Jersey: The average salary in Atlantic City in this field was $70,370 in 2014.
These are just some of the cities where professionals in the field will find above average pay.
The top industries in the field include:
- Individual and Family Services: This industry employs 10,420 professionals, with an annual mean wage of $46,300.
- Outpatient Care Centers: This industry employs 5,510 professionals, with an annual mean wage of $50,220.
- State Government: This industry employs 4,540 professionals, with an annual mean wage of $73,110.
- Offices of Other Health Practitioners: This industry employs 3,660 professionals, with an annual mean wage of $56,600.
- Local Government: This industry employs 1,760 professionals, with an annual mean wage of $56,260.
As you can see from the data listed above, professionals that want to earn the highest salary should seek a position with the State Government.
The states with the highest level of employment in the field are:
- New Jersey
The states that pay the most, on average, include:
- New Jersey: The state has 4,350 employed in the field, with the average hourly mean wage of $35.78 and an annual mean wage of $74,420.
- Alaska: The state employs just 40 people in this field, with an average hourly wage of $29.40 and an annual mean wage of $61,160.
- Hawaii: The state of Hawaii has 160 people employed in the field, with an hourly mean wage of $29.08 and an annual mean wage of $60,490.
Newark, New Jersey is the city with the highest concentration of marriage and family therapists, with 1,200 in the Newark, NJ-PA Metropolitan Division.
Marriage & Family Therapist Career Outlook
When looking for a career, the job outlook should be something that is considered above all else. If a career is stagnant in terms of growth, this means that your potential to land a job will be low, too.
BLS provides a great resource that shows this is a field that is expected to grow much faster than average. The number of jobs as of 2014 was 168,200, but the career outlook between 2014 and 2024 projects a growth rate of 19%. This 19% rate will add 31,400 jobs to the field.
And with many of the therapists retiring and leaving the field, further job openings will be available.
A budding field, the life of a marriage and family therapist can be stressful. But it is a rewarding career with a good salary, and a job outlook that is growing faster than average.