To become a mental health specialist, you usually need a bachelor's degree and 1-2 years of experience. The most common jobs before becoming a mental health specialist are internship, case manager, and cashier. It takes an average of 1-3 months of job training to become a mental health specialist.

The national average salary for mental health specialists is $47,321, but with the right certifications and experience, they can make up to $71,000. Getting a certification as a Mental Health will help you to earn more as a mental health specialist.

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 11% and produce 81,200 job opportunities across the U.S.

How to become a Mental Health Specialist in 6 steps:

  • Step 1: Explore mental health specialist education
  • Step 2: Develop mental health specialist skills
  • Step 3: Complete relevent training/internship
  • Step 4: Get mental health specialist certifications
  • Step 5: Research mental health specialist duties
  • Step 6: Prepare your resume

Key Steps To Become a Mental Health Specialist

  1. Explore Mental Health Specialist Education

    If you're interested in becoming a mental health specialist, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 62.3% of mental health specialists have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 20.8% of mental health specialists have master's degrees. Even though most mental health specialists have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

    Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a mental health specialist. When we researched the most common majors for a mental health specialist, we found that they most commonly have psychology, social work and criminal justice.

    Mental Health Specialist Degrees


    62.3 %


    20.8 %


    10.1 %

    Mental Health Specialist MajorPercentages
    Social Work14.20%
    Criminal Justice7.90%
    Other Degrees36.90%

  2. Develop Mental Health Specialist Skills

    It'll be a good idea to develop mental health specialist skills before applying for a job. Here are some skills commonly requested in mental health specialist job descriptions:

    Social Work10.82%
    Mental Health5.22%

  3. Complete Relevent Training/Internship

    Mental health specialists spend an average of 1-3 months on post-employment, on-the-job training. During this time, new mental health specialists learn the skills and techniques required for their specific job and employer. The chart below shows how much time it takes to gain competency as a mental health specialist based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data and data from real mental health specialist resumes.

    Average Amount Of Time At Training


    Less than 1 month

    1-3 months

    3-6 months

    6-12 months

    More than 10 years

  4. Get Mental Health Specialist Certifications

    Certifications can show employers you have a baseline of knowledge expected for this position. They can also make you a more competitive candidate. Even if employers don't require a certification, having one may help you stand out in an application. Plus, the process of getting a certification can teach you new skills that you can bring to your work. We determined the most common certifications for mental health specialists. The most common certification is Mental Health, but Certified Medical Interpreter - Spanish (CMI) is also frequently seen in mental health specialists resumes.

    1. Mental Health
    2. Certified Medical Interpreter - Spanish (CMI)
    3. Basic Life Support (BLS)
    4. Certified Addiction Specialist (CAS)
    5. Certification in Forensic Social Work (CFSW)
    6. Medication Aide Certification (MACE)
    7. Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT)
    8. Academy of Certified Social Workers Credential (ACSW)

    More About Certifications

  5. Research Mental Health Specialist Duties

    When you decide to become a mental health specialist, It's important to know what duties and responsibilities are required for this position. Some common responsibilities are a part of most mental health specialist jobs. Here is a list of the main duties that define the role:

    • Provide individualize intervention for problematic behaviors using TCI techniques such as de-escalation, to prevent and/or manage crisis.
    • Assist and encourage patients with ADL's including feeding, ambulating, and hygiene to promote patient care.
    • Utilize rehabilitation principles to support individuals, families and communities in developing effective strategies to improve client mental health functioning.
    • Provide psychological care to patients in an in-patient psych unit, including facilitating group activities, crisis intervention, implementing therapeutic approaches
    • Meet physical requirements to complete SAMA and CPR training.
    • Provide kindness and compassion to the deceased and their families.

  6. Prepare Your Resume

    Finally, when you already have checked the skills and responsibilities for this role, you can start creating your resume. Everything that goes into creating a perfect resume can take hours, days, or even weeks. No worries, we created a resume builder to make this process as easy as possible with tips and examples of skills, responsibilities, and a summary.

    Choose From 10+ Customizable Mental Health Specialist Resume templates

    Build a professional Mental Health Specialist resume in minutes. Browse through our resume examples to identify the best way to word your resume. Then choose from 10+ resume templates to create your Mental Health Specialist resume.

    Mental Health Specialist Resume
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  7. Apply For a Mental Health Specialist Job

    With your ready resume, it's time to start searching for a new job. Consider the tips below for a successful job search:

    1. Browse job boards for relevant postings
    2. Consult your professional network
    3. Reach out to companies you're interested in working for directly
    4. Watch out for job scams

    Mental Health Specialist Jobs

  8. How To Become a Mental Health Specialist
    How To Become a Mental Health Specialist Career Overview

Average Salary for a Mental Health Specialist

Mental Health Specialists in America make an average salary of $47,321 per year or $23 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $71,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $31,000 per year.
Average Mental Health Specialist Salary
$47,321 Yearly
$22.75 hourly

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