Marriage and Family Therapy: What You’ll Earn

Read about salary and job outlook predictions for marriage and family therapists.

Median Annual Salary

marriage-and-family-therapy-salaryMarriage and family therapists focus on how people interact within marriage and family units, rather than the traditional emphasis on the individual. A marriage and family therapist generally takes a holistic, or mind-body, approach to his or her duties, working together with clients to solve issues and establish a plan of action for resolution of domestic problems. Here are some statistics on salaries, job growth and employers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) current Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for marriage and family therapists is $49,170. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors.

How does a marriage and family therapist’s salary compare to other counseling careers?

Psychology Career Median Annual Salary*
School and Career Counselor $54,560
Mental Health Counselor $42,840
Rehabilitation Counselor $34,670
Substance Abuse Counselor $41,070

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2018-19 Occupational Outlook Handbook; Marriage and Family Therapists.

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

What is my earning potential?

Marriage and family therapists in the top 10 percent may earn more than $81,960 annually according to the BLS. Those working in private practice generally earn a higher income than their counterparts, but the BLS reports that most MFTs are employed within individual and family services industries and organizations.

Is there demand for this career?

According to the BLS, career employment for marriage and family therapists is expected to grow much faster than average as more people turn to professionals to help them cope with relationship and family issues and the stress of daily obstacles such as depression, substance abuse, behavioral problems and infidelity, among others.

What is the job growth for the field?

Employment of marriage and family therapists is expected to grow 20 percent through 2026, which is much faster than the national average for all occupations. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth. Take a look at what some of the other counseling occupations can expect as far as job growth:

Job Outlook Comparison Through 2026

  • School and Career Counselors—11 percent
  • Mental Health Counselors—20 percent
  • Substance Abuse Counselors—20 percent
  • Rehabilitation Counselors—10 percent
  • All Other Industries and Occupations—7 percent

How much competition will I face for a job?

U.S. News and World Report named marriage and family therapist as one of its top careers (the #35 profession in its 2015 survey of top 100 jobs). Although states such as California have suffered layoffs and budget cuts in health care, the Veteran’s Administration has been hiring MFTs. So finding a job may largely depend on where you seek employment.

What kinds of companies hire MFTs?

According to the BLS, marriage and family therapists are most frequently employed by the following types of industries or offices:

  • Individual and family services
  • State Government
  • Outpatient Care Centers
  • Offices of Other Health Practitioners

How do I advance in my MFT career?

Some MFTs go on and earn a Licensed Clinical Social Work (LCSW) degree. This allows them to move past therapy-only practice and attain the flexibility to become an administrator.

Other MFTs may decide to earn a Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy (DMFT), which is similar to a PhD but is a practitioner-oriented program that differs in that it prepares professionals to contribute to their chosen specialty in the clinical rather than academic arena. Degree-holders can then work as top-level practitioners, agency administrators, clinical supervisors or senior clinicians.

To learn more about the education required before becoming a therapist, read more about marriage and family degrees.

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