How Much Mental Health Counselors Make

how much mental health counselors make

The mental health counseling industry is one of the fastest-growing fields in the US. Many counselors work in private practices, but they may also find jobs at hospitals, school or outpatient treatment centers.

As a counselor, your salary depends on several factors including the type of mental health issues you treat and your experience level. Learn how much you can make in this career and find out more about how to get started.

Education and Training Requirements

Mental health counselors combine psychotherapy with problem-solving to help individuals, couples and groups overcome various mental health challenges. They can work in a variety of settings, such as community centers, hospitals, universities, veteran health agencies, outpatient facilities and recovery centers.

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this field is expected to grow at an above-average rate from 2020 to 2030. The best-paying states for mental health counselors are California, New York, Pennsylvania and Florida.

The education requirements for mental health counselors vary by state, but most require a master’s degree in counseling or related fields before they can be licensed to practice. In addition to the degree, most states require students to take a state licensure exam and complete supervised experience before becoming licensed.

During their graduate studies, students build basic skills in interpersonal communication, such as listening and critical thinking. They also learn to assess their clients’ needs and develop plans to improve their psychological health.


How much mental health counselors make depends on a variety of factors, including their education and specialization. Some states require licensed professional counselors (LPCs) to have a master’s degree and complete supervised work experience.

Counselors often choose to focus their education on a specific type of therapy or group setting. For example, many people pursue a graduate degree in marriage and family counseling.

Whether you decide to pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree in mental health, you’ll be faced with a lot of decisions during your career journey. The choices you make during this time will affect your future salary outcomes and job growth opportunities.

The right master’s degree can help you get the most value out of your tuition dollars while you’re in graduate school and can help make you more competitive for jobs after graduation. Consider your interest in clinical mental health counseling as well as your personal values and life goals when choosing the best program for you.

Work Environment

Mental health counselors work in a variety of settings to help patients overcome psychological, emotional and behavioral issues. Depending on their areas of expertise, these professionals work in hospitals, government agencies, social service organizations and private practices.

Schools and universities employ counselors to assist students struggling with school or career-related problems. They also work to prevent suicide, substance abuse and other mental disorders.

In addition to traditional counseling environments, advancements in video conferencing and Internet connectivity enable mental health counselors to conduct virtual sessions with clients worldwide. This makes the field even more versatile than before.

As a mental health counselor, you are in the forefront of a growing movement to discuss mental health issues. As Americans of all ages become more aware of the risks of depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses, your job is important to those who are in need of help.

Personal Rewards

Mental health counselors can enjoy many personal rewards when they help clients overcome adversity, improve their lives or recover from addiction. Being able to make a difference in someone’s life is a huge motivator to get up each day and go to work.

Counseling can be a demanding career, both physically and mentally. It is common for a counselor to spend long clinical hours with multiple clients, sometimes even juggling emergency visits.

A key aspect of a successful and rewarding career as a counselor is the ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Keeping yourself motivated, ensuring you get adequate rest and exercise, and taking time off when needed to avoid burnout are all important.

One of the most interesting aspects of a counselor’s job is being able to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills to help clients navigate their challenges. These include communicating effectively with clients, listening to their thoughts and feelings and giving them space to talk.