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Careers in Mental Health

Number of Jobs

36, 700

Median Salary

$40, 080

Unemployment Rate

3.1 percent

Mental health counselors work with people from all walks of life, including couples struggling with marital issues, stressed-out college students and depressed working professionals. The job involves solving problems people face, and as W. Mark Hamilton, former executive director of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, explains, professionals often apply real-life experiences when giving advice and form meaningful bonds with patients. Along with diagnosing mental and emotional disorders, mental health counselors work with patients on treatment, partnering with psychiatrists and social workers to coordinate proper care. The trio also collaborate in referring patients to specific support groups and inpatient treatment facilities. It’s not uncommon for mental health counselors to establish their own private practice. Under those circumstances, they need marketing skills to grow their clientele and a degree of financial know-how to work with insurance companies for proper compensation.

With psychiatrists and psychologists charging higher rates for therapy, insurance companies are directing patients toward the affordable alternative of mental health counselors. That trend will contribute to employment growth of 28.5 percent in the field over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2022, 36, 700 new positions will need to be filled.

See SalariesMental health counselors earned a median salary of , 080 in 2012, or .27 per hour, according to the BLS. The best-paid earned about , 630, while the lowest-paid earned less than , 430. Top-paying areas of the industry include insurance carriers and state government services. If you’re looking for a position in a geographic area that compensates well, consider the metropolitan areas of Mankato, Minn., Bakersfield, Calif., and Anchorage, Alaska.

Salary Range

75th Percentile $51, 750
Median $40, 080
25th Percentile $31, 720

Training

Mental health counselors should prepare for many years of education and continued learning. Starting a practice requires a master’s degree, as well as 2, 000 to 4, 000 hours of supervised clinical supervision and passing a state license test. When those benchmarks have been met, you can still look forward to annual continuing education classes.

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"Antioch University New England's MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling has a strong reputation in the field and a track record of preparing graduates for successful, meaningful careers in mental health counseling," Katherine M.

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