(5.9 out of 10)
|Number of Jobs:||43,600|
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Social Services Jobs||#18|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#67|
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. "As a mental health counselor, they're trying to solve problems people have," says W. Mark Hamilton, executive director of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, adding that those in the profession need real-life experience to form a meaningful bond 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 a marketing touch to grow their clientele and a degree of financial know-how to work with insurance companies for proper compensation.
In 2010, there were 120,300 mental health counselors employed, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS). 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 in the field growing by 36 percent over the next decade. By 2020, 43,600 new positions will need to be filled.
According to the BLS, mental health counselors earned $39,190 in 2011, or approximately $32.64 per hour. The best-paid earned about $65,660, while the lowest-paid earned less than $24,840. Top-paying areas of the industry include insurance carriers, state government, and facilities support services. If you're looking for a position in a geographic area that compensates well, consider the metropolitan areas of Detroit, Augusta, Ga., and Salem, Ore.
Mental health counselor is an education-heavy occupation. 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.
With education playing such a pivotal role in entering the field, alternate routes for landing a job are virtually nonexistent. Individuals thinking about a career in mental health counseling should not only consider the academic obligations, but the emotional ones as well. Having the emotional wherewithal to problem-solve and the ability to connect with people are also vital traits for success.
|Upward Mobility||Above Average|