Mental Health Counseling Salary: What You’ll Earn
Mental health counseling salaries are good, but you’ll get even more with the personal rewards you earn.
Mental health counselors help clients with issues such as depression, OCD and PTSD overcome their challenges and develop into healthier human beings.
And although they may not become rich, mental health counselors can make a good living.
Keep reading to find out just what your earning potential is, and compare it to the salary of other counselors and therapists.
Median Annual Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) 2020 Occupational Employment Statistics, the median annual salary for mental health counselors is $47,660. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors.
What’s my earning potential?
Salaries for mental health counselors in the top 10% earned more than $78,700 according to the BLS. As with most psychology careers, experience and location play an enormous factor in salary. Those working in private practice generally earn a higher income than their counterparts—as well as enjoy the benefits of a flexible schedule—although it can take up to five lean years to build up a strong client base.
How do mental health counselor salaries compare to other counseling careers?
|Counseling Career||Median Annual Salary*||Job Growth Through 2029|
|School and Career Counselor||$58,120||8%, faster than average|
|Marriage and Family Therapist||$51,340||20%, much faster than average|
|Substance Abuse Counselor||$47,660||25%, much faster than average|
|Rehabilitation Counselor||$37,530||10%, faster than average|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2020 Occupational Employment Statistics; School and Career Counselors; Marriage and Family Therapists; Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors; Rehabilitation Counselors.
*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 the job growth for the field?
Employment of mental health counselors is expected to grow 25%, much faster than the national average for all occupations through 2029.
Is there demand for this career?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, career employment for mental health counselors is expected to grow much faster than average as more people turn to professionals to help them cope with mental problems. 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. Also, insurance companies provide for the reimbursement of counselors and therapists as a less costly alternative to psychiatric and psychological treatment.
How much competition will I face for a job?
Job prospects should be good for those choosing to enter the field as approximately 25% of North Americans suffer from diagnosable mental health issues each year. With the increasing awareness of the related social, political and economic impacts of these problems, there is a greater need for professional mental health counselors.
What kind of companies hire mental health counselors?
People in mental health counseling will work in a variety of settings, including mental health centers, substance abuse treatment centers, hospitals, in private practice, and in employee assistance programs. According to the BLS, mental health counselors are most frequently employed by the following types of industries or offices:
- Individual and Family Services
- Outpatient Care Centers
- Residential Intellectual and Developmental Disability, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Facilities
- Local Government
- Offices of Other Health Practitioners
How do I advance in my mental health counseling career?
Being a mental health counselor is not only rewarding, it’s also a gateway career to other professions. For those who have earned a master’s degree in counseling, you can earn a master’s in social work (MSW) or another counseling area. This, as well as getting your mandatory license, will open your career options and allow you to move into other areas of counseling, such as rehabilitation counseling, substance abuse counseling, marriage and family counseling and educational counseling.