If you've a strong sense of compassion, enjoy helping people, and are willing to learn and grow by facing new challenges, you may enjoy the role of a mental health counselor. In general, a mental health counselor is a person who helps people manage or overcome psychological and emotional disorders and problems with their families and relationships. As a mental health counselor, you may deal with individuals, families, groups, and communities as you help them overcome their cognitive, behavioral, or emotional issues and improve their mental well-being.

A career as a mental health counselor brings a lot of potential benefits with it. One of the remarkable rewards of being a mental health counselor is the gratification and fulfillment you get by helping people and improving their quality of life. Other than potential meaningfulness, a role as a mental health counselor offers you high earning potential, flexible schedules, and an opportunity to work with new people every day. Not only this, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a growth rate of about 22 percent for mental health counselor employment, which is significantly faster than the average for all occupations.

Many aspiring mental health counselors hold a bachelor's degree in a human services field such as psychology, sociology, or social work. However, earning a master's degree in counseling or a related field may help burnish your resume. Further, you may specialize in areas such as trauma, addiction, or youth services. The licensing and certification guidelines vary state by state. As a mental health counselor, you may work in various family services, outpatient mental health, substance abuse centers, hospitals, government schools, or a private practice. Typically your hours will include frequent one-on-one patient contact. Other hours may consist of time leading group counseling, meeting with supervisors and peers, and reviewing notes. What's more, once you get experience under your belt, you may start your own private therapy practice to earn an even better living.

What Does a Mental Health Counselor Do

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help people manage and overcome mental and emotional disorders and problems with their family and other relationships. They listen to clients and ask questions to help the clients understand their problems and develop strategies to improve their lives.

Learn more about what a Mental Health Counselor does

How To Become a Mental Health Counselor

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists are typically required to have a master’s degree and a license to practice.

Learn More About How To Become a Mental Health Counselor

Mental Health Counselor Career Paths

Average Salary for a Mental Health Counselor

Mental Health Counselors in America make an average salary of $49,471 per year or $24 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $70,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $34,000 per year.
Average Mental Health Counselor Salary
$49,471 Yearly
$23.78 hourly
$34,000
10 %
$49,000
Median
$70,000
90 %

What Am I Worth?

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Mental Health Counselor Education

Mental Health Counselor Majors

Mental Health Counselor Degrees

Bachelors

57.6 %

Masters

30.6 %

Associate

6.8 %

Top Colleges for Mental Health Counselors

1. California State University - Long Beach

Long Beach, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$6,798
Enrollment
31,503

2. Hunter College of the City University of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$7,182
Enrollment
16,205

3. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

4. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,948
Enrollment
17,238

5. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

6. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

7. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

8. SUNY at Albany

Albany, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$10,011
Enrollment
13,434

9. San Jose State University

San Jose, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$7,796
Enrollment
27,125

10. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

Top Skills For a Mental Health Counselor

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 17.5% of mental health counselors listed crisis intervention on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and emotional skills are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Mental Health Counselor Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Mental Health Counselor templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Mental Health Counselor resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Mental Health Counselor Demographics

Mental Health Counselor Gender Distribution

Female
Female
69%
Male
Male
31%

After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among mental health counselors, 68.6% of them are women, while 31.4% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among mental health counselors is White, which makes up 71.2% of all mental health counselors.

  • The most common foreign language among mental health counselors is Spanish at 63.3%.

Online Courses For Mental Health Counselor That You May Like

Advertising Disclosure  The courses listed below are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the course, we may receive a commission.
Addiction & Mental Health (Dual Diagnosis) Integrative 12hrs
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Substance Abuse & Mental Health Interventions: Drug & Alcohol Addiction & Mental Health - Integrative Holistic Approach...

Managing mental health issues in the workplace
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Learn how to support your own mental health and wellbeing and that of your staff...

Addiction & Mental Health - Chemically Speaking Two (2hrs)
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Substance Abuse & Mental Health Interventions - Understand Drug & Alcohol Addiction & Mental Health. How to help people...

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Best States For a Mental Health Counselor

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a mental health counselor. The best states for people in this position are Washington, Nevada, Arizona, and Idaho. Mental health counselors make the most in Washington with an average salary of $58,089. Whereas in Nevada and Arizona, they would average $57,395 and $55,995, respectively. While mental health counselors would only make an average of $55,832 in Idaho, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Arizona

Total Mental Health Counselor Jobs:
1,246
Highest 10% Earn:
$79,000
Location Quotient:
1.38 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Idaho

Total Mental Health Counselor Jobs:
346
Highest 10% Earn:
$78,000
Location Quotient:
1.37 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Maine

Total Mental Health Counselor Jobs:
297
Highest 10% Earn:
$83,000
Location Quotient:
1.46 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Mental Health Counselors

How Do Mental Health Counselor Rate Their Jobs?

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2.0

2.0

What do you like the most about working as Mental Health Counselor?

The (working) clients will always be the best part of this job. There are certain individuals who you can feel want to learn more about their conditions and to adopt healthier thinking patterns or lifestyles. Show More

What do you NOT like?

The insane amount of paperwork, the insurance/agency politics, the high expectations, the low amount of support. Burnout is very concerning for a profession where people in the frontline are the ones trying to make a difference. Individuals who work in this field need to have an incentive to keep pushing. I’m sorry but a kind heart and good intentions are not enough to sustain this type of career. Show More

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Top Mental Health Counselor Employers

Most Common Employers For Mental Health Counselor

Rank  Company  Average Salary  Hourly Rate  Job Openings  
1Children's Hospital Colorado$64,952$31.2328
2Centra$55,302$26.5925
3Walden Behavioral Care$53,694$25.8157
4Hughes$53,454$25.7026
5Seneca Companies$52,860$25.4140
6Riveredge Hospital$52,578$25.2834
7SOUTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH$52,400$25.1929
8Vinfen$51,776$24.8926
9Alexian Brothers Medical Center Inc$51,691$24.8534
10RAMS$47,622$22.9039

Mental Health Counselor Videos

Becoming a Mental Health Counselor FAQs

How to become a mental health counselor without a degree?

You cannot become a mental health counselor without a degree. Mental health counselors, psychologists, and marriage or family therapists all require some sort of education in psychology or a related field. Other positions can be entered into without a degree, including...

Mental Health Counselor vs Therapist

A mental health counselor is a psychological professional who tends to offer short-term care to patients, while a therapist is a psychological professional who tends to offer long-term care to patients.

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