What Jobs Can I Get with a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling?
As more people understand the value of good mental health, the number of clinical mental health counseling jobs continues to grow. They include careers in such diverse areas as mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling, crisis and trauma counseling, rehabilitation counseling, and community service management.
Both need and awareness have driven growth in the field. About one in five adults, almost 44 million people, in the United States experience a mental health issue in any given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). About 10 million U.S. adults live with a mental health issue.
At the same time, recognition of the importance of mental health has increased. A recent poll found 71% of those surveyed agreed people should consider mental and physical health as equally important. Also, 96.8% said mental health conditions represent legitimate medical illnesses and 94.4% said professionals can effectively treat such illnesses.
Those numbers have made those who earn an online Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in demand for a variety of clinical mental health counseling jobs.
Where Mental Health Counseling Graduates Work
Another driver behind the demand for mental health counselors is that many people who have issues do not seek help. NAMI estimates about 60% of adults with mental health issues do not get help from counseling.
That’s led to a drive for more mental health counselors in a variety of settings. Once a counselor earns a master’s degree and becomes licensed in their state, they will find themselves prepared for a wealth of job opportunities that include the following. All job growth and salary numbers come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) unless otherwise noted.
Mental Health Counselor
This is the catch-all job title for a wide range of counseling positions. Depending on the type of counseling they practice, a mental health counselor may work in a hospital, social service agency, correctional facility, community center, homeless shelter, or wellness center. They can work with individuals and groups, but the focus for mental health counselors is typically on the prevention of mental illness.
The BLS projects 22% growth in this field between 2018 and 2028, far faster than the 7% average for all occupations. The median pay for mental health counselors reached $49,950 in May 2019.
Substance Abuse Counselor
Sometimes called addiction counselors, those who work in this area treat patients with addiction issues. They may specialize in working with teens, veterans, or people with disabilities. They help patients learn to handle life’s challenges and stresses in ways that help them reestablish both personal and professional relationships.
As with mental health counselors, the BLS estimates a 22% increase in jobs by 2028. As of May 2019, the median annual wage was $49,950.
Rehabilitation counselors work with people who have physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities, helping patients live more independent lives. They develop expertise in how to handle challenges specific to people living with these conditions, including the effects of disabilities on employment and living and how that affects patients psychologically. They also develop treatment plans for patients in consultation with doctors, psychologists, and therapists.
The BLS projects 10% growth in this field between 2018 and 2028. The median pay for rehabilitation counselors reached $40,160 in May 2019.
Community Services Manager
A mental health counseling degree is one of the pathways to this job. Some community service managers first spend time in other jobs, such as working as a substance abuse counselor, before moving into a management role. Community service managers work as liaisons between members of a community and healthcare professionals. They develop and oversee programs that offer community members the assistance and guidance they need. They may specialize in serving specific groups, such as children, the homeless, or the elderly.
The BLS projects 13% growth in the community service manager field between 2018 and 2028. Median pay in the profession reached $72,900 in May 2019.
Crisis and Trauma Counseling
Professionals working in this clinical mental health counseling role specialize in helping victims of natural and manmade disasters, as well as other traumatic situations. According to the American Counseling Association (ACA), they help people overcome the trauma associated with destruction, loss of loved ones, or loss of irreplaceable belongings. Such events tend to “stress emotional, cognitive, behavioral, physiological, and religious/spiritual beliefs,” according to the ACA.
The BLS does not track job growth or salary in this area of mental health counseling. However, the average annual salary tracks with that of other similar mental health counseling careers, although it varies widely depending on location.
These represent just five of the many career opportunities available for mental health counselors, a profession with a fast growth rate. Earning a master’s degree in mental health counseling gives graduates access to many job options. It is an attractive degree for those who want to dedicate their professional lives to helping others.