What Can I do with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling?

Professionals with a bachelor’s degree in marriage and family counseling typically go on to work as certified marriage and family therapists. However, it is necessary to earn a master’s degree in this field if you’d like to practice as a certified counselor. This field is expected to have high growth potential over the next decade, with thousands of new jobs available for graduates. If you’re considering pursuing a degree in this field, read on to learn more about a career as a marriage and family counselor, including job responsibilities, certification, salary, and career outlook.

What Does a Marriage and Family Therapist Do?

A marriage and family therapist is a type of mental health counselor who specializes in mediating issues within relationships. Through talk therapy, these counselors help clients work through problems they’ve been having and develop strategies to resolve conflict and lead a happier, more healthy life. Therapists may work with individuals as well as with couples, families, and children. Many work in mental health centers, substance abuse treatment centers, hospitals, and colleges, as well as in private practice.

How Do I Become a Marriage and Family Therapist?

The first step is to earn a bachelor’s degree in marriage and family therapy, psychology, or a related field. However, in most cases you’ll need to go on to earn your master’s degree to practice as a full-fledged therapist. Most states require counselors to be licensed, which involves 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience after earning a degree, as well as passing an exam. State-by-state licensure information is available through the National Board of Certified Counselors. The ideal candidate for a career in this field will possess compassion, active listening and problem-solving skills, good public speaking skills, and be organized and able to effectively document client cases.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for marriage and family therapists is $46,670. The highest paid jobs are found in government, followed by hospitals, outpatient care centers, individual services, and nursing care facilities. Most therapists work full time; evening and weekend hours are often necessary to accommodate client needs. In addition to salary, job stability and outlook is a huge benefit to working as a marriage and family therapist. This field is projected to grow by 29 percent over the next 10 years, much faster than the growth of other occupations. 11,600 are expected to be created, largely because of the federal mandate for insurance coverage of mental health services.

If you’re interested in a job where you directly help others manage family relationships and individual issues, you may want to consider a marriage and family counseling degree. After earning your bachelor’s degree in marriage and family counseling, the next step is to pursue a master’s program so that you can become certified as a therapist through your state.