Research Summary. Here are some key points about hiring mental health specialists in the United States:

  • There are currently 51,504 mental health specialists in the US, as well as 131,449 job openings.
  • Mental health specialists are in the highest demand in Los Angeles, CA, with 22 current job openings.
  • The median cost to hire a mental health specialist is $1,633.
  • It takes between 36 and 42 days to fill the average role in the US.
  • Human Resources use 15% of their expenses on recruitment on average.
  • On average, it takes around 12 weeks for a new mental health specialist to become settled and show total productivity levels at work.

Post A Job For Free, Promote It For A Fee

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Mental Health Specialist

There are different types of costs for hiring mental health specialists. One-time cost per hire for the recruitment process. Ongoing costs include employee salary, training, onboarding, benefits, insurance, and equipment. It is essential to consider all of these costs when evaluating hiring a new mental health specialist employee.

The median annual salary for mental health specialists is $47,321 in the US. However, the cost of mental health specialist hiring can vary a lot depending on location. Additionally, hiring a mental health specialist for contract work or on a per-project basis typically costs between $14 and $34 an hour.

Find Better Talent in Less Time
Post a Job on Zippia and take the best from over 7 million monthly job seekers.

How to hire a Mental Health Specialist, step by step

To hire a mental health specialist, consider the skills and experience you are looking for in a candidate, allocate a budget for the position, and post and promote the job opening to reach potential candidates. Follow these steps to hire a mental health specialist:

  • Step 1: Identify your needs
  • Step 2: Create an ideal candidate profile
  • Step 3: Make a budget
  • Step 4: Writing a mental health specialist job description
  • Step 5: Post the job
  • Step 6: Interview process
  • Step 7: Send a job offer and onboard your new mental health specialist
  • Step 8: Go through the checklist for the hiring process

Identify Your Needs

The first step in the mental health specialist hiring process is determining what type of worker you actually need. For example, certain roles might require a full-time employee, whereas others can be done by part-time workers or contractors.

Determine Employee vs Contractor Status
Your Progress
Is the person you're thinking of hiring a US citizen or green card holder?

Hiring the perfect mental health specialist also involves considering the ideal background you'd like them to have. Depending on what industry or field they have experience in, they'll bring different skills to the job. It's also important to consider what levels of seniority and education the job requires, and what kind of salary such a candidate would likely demand.

This list presents the salaries of various mental health specialist positions.

Type Of Mental Health SpecialistDescriptionHourly Rate
Mental Health SpecialistSocial workers help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. One group of social workers—clinical social workers—also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues.$14-34
Community Health CounselorA community health counselor typically provides health and welfare support to the disadvantaged members of a community. Their responsibilities revolve around devising strategies to reach out to community members, coordinating with schools and other institutions, and building positive relationships with the communities that they serve... Show More$13-30
Mental Health PractitionerMental health practitioners are medical professionals who work with patients who have mental health issues such as schizophrenia, split personality disorder, and depression. These practitioners are required to develop and implement patient care plans for adults with severe mental disabilities while providing mental health services to attain improved mental health... Show More$16-34

Create An Ideal Candidate Profile

Before you start to recruit mental health specialists, imagine the ideal employee for this position and begin creating a profile and job description. What skills do they have, and what responsibilities do they have to be proficient in?

Here are some of the most common mental health specialist skills:

Common Skills:
  • Patients
  • Social Work
  • Rehabilitation
  • Mental Health
  • CPR
  • Vital Signs
  • Substance Abuse
  • Mental Illness
  • Therapeutic Milieu
  • Therapeutic Relationships
  • Direct Patient Care
  • Community Resources
  • Autism
  • Mental Health Care
Check All Skills

Here is a list of common responsibilities that mental health specialists may be expected to fulfill:

  • 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.
Check all Duties

Beyond the nuts and bolts, cultural fit is an important factor. It might help to ask yourself how your ideal mental health specialist will live by the company's mission statement and contribute to the team dynamic you already have in place. Clearly communicating this vision in your mental health specialist job description will help attract candidates who are better suited for the role.

Most Common States For Mental Health Specialists In The US

Rank #State# Of Jobs% of PopulationAvg. Salary

Professional Project Manager CV example

Make A Budget

Including a salary range in the job description can help attract top candidates to the position. A mental health specialist salary can be affected by several factors, such as the location of the job, the level of experience and seniority of the candidate, any certifications they may hold, and the prestige of the company they will be working for. For example, the average salary for a mental health specialist in Tennessee may be lower than in California, and an entry-level mental health specialist may earn less than a senior-level mental health specialist. Additionally, a mental health specialist with certifications may command a higher salary, and working for a well-known company or start-up may also impact an employee's pay.

Updated March 16, 2023

Mental Health Specialist Salary Estimate


$22.75 hourly

Entry level Salary
$31,000 yearly

Mental Health Specialist Average Salary By Location

RankStateAvg. SalaryHourly RateJob Count
5District of Columbia$58,085$283

Mental Health Specialist Average Salary By Company

RankCompanyAverage SalaryHourly RateJob Openings
1Research Foundation For Mental Hygiene Inc$66,726$32.08
2Highland General Hospital$66,087$31.7712
3New York University$64,491$31.016
4Alameda Health System$63,543$30.5518
5Community Health Network$63,345$30.4567
6Jefferson County Sheriffs Dept$62,468$30.03
7CFG Health Systems$62,102$29.8640
9Chicago Public Schools$59,164$28.4423
10Massachusetts Institute of Technology$57,634$27.71
11Indian Health Service$57,447$27.6226
12Catapult Learning$57,357$27.585
13Crossover Health$57,326$27.5611
14Orange County$56,773$27.29
16Florida Department of Transportation$56,443$27.1469
18Boston Medical Center$55,914$26.8825
19International Rescue Committee$55,422$26.6561
20Overlake Medical Center & Clinics$55,324$26.603

Writing a Mental Health Specialist Job Description

A mental health specialist job description should include a summary of the role, required skills, and a list of responsibilities. It's also good to include a salary range and the first name of the hiring manager. To help get you started, here's an example of a mental health specialist job description:

Example of Full Job Description




Provide age appropriate coaching and supervision to patients and families while hospitalized on the Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit. The PMHS's work is directed by Nursing Leaders or designee. Incumbents are required to work with complex and acute psychiatric patients and be comfortable in dealing with stressful and quickly changing environments. This includes initiating appropriate interventions that promote a heathy and safe environment for patients, families and staff.



Required Education/Experience: - BA or BS in psychosocial related field or equivalent education and/or experience Required Credentials: - Agency Affiliated Counselor Registration in Washington State within 6 months of employment. - Registration as a Nursing Assistant in Washington State within 6 months of employment. - Basic Life Support (BLS). - Safety Care certification (internal training) required within 3 months of hire and annually thereafter. Preferred: - Experience working with children or adolescents in group settings. - American Sign Language Skills.

About Us

Hope. Care. Cure. These three simple words capture what we do at Seattle Children's -- to help every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible. Are you ready to engage with a mission-driven organization that is life-changing to many, and touches the hearts of all? #HOPECARECURE

Our founding promise to the community is as valid today as it was over a century ago: we will care for all children in our region, regardless of the families' ability to pay. Together, we deliver superior patient care, advance new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and serve as the pediatric and adolescent, academic medical center for Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho - the largest region of any children's hospital in the country.

In 2022, U.S. News & World Report once again ranked Seattle Children's among the nation's best children's hospitals - for the 30th year in a row. For more than a decade, Seattle Children's has been nationally ranked in all 10 specialty areas evaluated by U.S. News & World Report. We are honored to be the top-ranked pediatric hospital in Washington and the Pacific Northwest.

As a Magnet designated institution, and classified among America's best large employers by Forbes, we recognize the importance of hiring and developing great talent to provide best-in-class care to the patients and families we serve. Our organizational DNA takes form in our core values: Compassion, Excellence, Integrity, Collaboration, Equity and Innovation. Whether it's delivering frontline care to our patients in a kind and caring manner, practicing the highest standards of quality and safety, or being relentlessly curious as we work towards eradicating childhood diseases, these values are the fabric of our culture and community. The future starts here.

Covid-19 VaccinationIn accordance with Washington state law, Seattle Children's requires that all employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. All offers are contingent and your vaccine status will be verified at onboarding.Our Commitment to Diversity

Our community welcomes diverse experiences, backgrounds, and thoughts as this is what drives our spirit of inquiry and allows us to better connect with our increasingly diverse patients and families. Our organization recruits, employs, trains, compensates, and promotes without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, status as a protected veteran, status as an individual with a disability, or other applicable legally protected characteristics.

The people who work at Seattle Children's are members of a community that seeks to respect and celebrate all the qualities that make each of us unique. Each of us is empowered to be ourselves within this community, which cultivates and promotes equity, diversity, and inclusion at all levels.

Seattle Children's is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Workplace and Affirmative Action Employer.

Post A Job

There are a few common ways to find mental health specialists for your business:

  • Promoting internally or recruiting from your existing workforce.
  • Ask for referrals from friends, family members, and current employees.
  • Attend job fairs at local colleges to meet candidates with the right educational background.
  • Use social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to recruit passive job-seekers.

Post your job online:

  • Post your mental health specialist job on Zippia to find and recruit mental health specialist candidates who meet your exact specifications.
  • Use field-specific websites.
  • Post a job on free websites.

Interview Process

Recruiting mental health specialists involves bringing your A-game to the interview process. The first interview should introduce the company and the role to the candidate as much as they introduce their background experience and reasons for applying for the job. During later interviews, you can go into more detail about the technical details of the job and ask behavioral questions to gauge how they'd fit into your current company culture.

You should also ask about candidates' special skills and talents to see if they match with the ideal candidate profile you came up with earlier. Candidates who are good enough for the next step can then move on to the technical interview.

The right interview questions can help you assess a candidate's hard skills, behavioral intelligence, and soft skills.

Send A Job Offer And Onboard Your New Mental Health Specialist

Once you've selected the best mental health specialist candidate for the job, it's time to write an offer letter. In addition to salary, this letter should include details about the benefits and perks that you're offering the candidate. It's essential to ensure that your offer is competitive, as qualified candidates may be considering other job opportunities. The candidate may wish to negotiate the terms of the offer, and it's important to be open to discussion. After you reach an agreement, the final step is formalizing the agreement with a contract.

It's also important to follow up with applicants who do not get the job with an email letting them know that the position is filled.

To prepare for the new mental health specialist first day, you should share an onboarding schedule with them that covers their first period on the job. You should also quickly complete any necessary paperwork, such as employee action forms and onboarding documents like I-9 forms, benefits enrollment, and federal and state tax forms. Finally, Human Resources needs to make sure that a new employee file is created for internal recordkeeping.

Go Through The Checklist For The Hiring Process

  • Determine employee type (full-time, part-time, contractor, etc.)
  • Submit a job requisition form to the HR department
  • Define job responsibilities and requirements
  • Establish budget and timeline
  • Determine hiring decision makers for the role
  • Write job description
  • Post job on job boards, company website, etc.
  • Promote the job internally
  • Process applications through applicant tracking system
  • Review resumes and cover letters
  • Shortlist candidates for screening
  • Hold phone/virtual interview screening with first round of candidates
  • Conduct in-person interviews with top candidates from first round
  • Score candidates based on weighted criteria (e.g., experience, education, background, cultural fit, skill set, etc.)
  • Conduct background checks on top candidates
  • Check references of top candidates
  • Consult with HR and hiring decision makers on job offer specifics
  • Extend offer to top candidate(s)
  • Receive formal job offer acceptance and signed employment contract
  • Inform other candidates that the position has been filled
  • Set and communicate onboarding schedule to new hire(s)
  • Complete new hire paperwork (i9, benefits enrollment, tax forms, etc.)
Sign Up To Download Full List
Are You An Employer?
Let us help you hire the right people for your Company.

Hiring Mental Health Specialists FAQs

How Much Does A Good Mental Health Specialist Cost?

A good mental health specialist costs $22.75 an hour in the US. However, it can vary based on factors such as the mental health specialist experience, abilities, industry, and the specific requirements of your business.

What Are The Duties Of A Mental Health Specialist?

The duties of a mental health specialist are:
  • 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.

Should I Hire A Mental Health Specialist With No Experience?

Yes, you should hire a mental health specialist with no experience. Hiring an entry-level mental health specialist with no experience offers versatility for your team. They may lack some qualifications, but are adaptable and have not yet formed problematic habits. However, more training may be required compared to experienced.

Search For Mental Health Specialist Jobs

Ready To Start Hiring?