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Mental Health Counselor Overview

What is a Mental Health Counselor?

What is a Mental Health Counselor?

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, these professionals often apply real-life experiences when giving advice and form meaningful bonds with clients. Along with diagnosing mental and emotional disorders, mental health counselors work with clients on treatment, partnering with psychiatrists and social workers to coordinate proper care. The trio also collaborates in referring clients 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 20 percent in the profession between 2014 and 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That translates to 26,400 new positions in this field.

Quick Stats

$41,880 Median Salary

2.8% Unemployment Rate

26400 Number of Jobs

Rankings

Mental Health Counselors rank #8 in Best Social Services Jobs. Jobs are ranked according to their ability to offer an elusive mix of factors. Read more about how we rank the best jobs.

Mental Health Counselors are ranked:

How Much Does a Mental Health Counselor Make?

Mental health counselors earned a median salary of $41,880 in 2015, or $20.13 per hour, according to the BLS. The best-paid earned more than $68,790, while the lowest-paid earned less than $26,300. Top-paying areas of the industry include management, scientific and technical consulting services and junior colleges. If you’re looking for a locale where counselors are compensated well, consider the top-paying metropolitan areas of Napa, California; El Centro, California; and Bend, Oregon.

75th Percentile. $54,320

25th Percentile. $32,720

How much do Mental Health Counselors make in your city?

See current salary offers for jobs in this field

What Type of Education Do Mental Health Counselors Need?

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.

Job Satisfaction

Average Americans work well into their 60s, so workers might as well have a job that’s enjoyable and a career that’s fulfilling. A job with a low stress level, good work-life balance and solid prospects to improve, get promoted and earn a higher salary would make many employees happy. Here’s how Mental Health Counselors job satisfaction is rated in terms of upward mobility, stress level and flexibility.

Upward Mobility. Above Average
Opportunities for advancements and salary

Stress Level. High
Work environment and complexities of the job s responsibilities

Flexibility. Average
Alternative working schedule and work life balance

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