Just as educational, licensing and certification requirements differ among mental health occupations, so do salaries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the annual salary range for mental health professionals varied from a low of $25,840 for some mental health counselors to a high of at least $187,199 for psychiatrists in 2013. Mental health therapists include a wide range of professionals: psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and clinical social workers.
Mental Health Counselors
The BLS reports the salary range for mental health counselors was $25,840 to $67,020 in 2013, with an average annual salary of $43,700. The majority worked either in individual and family services or outpatient care centers, where the average salaries were $42,670 and $44,000 a year, respectively. Although few worked in educational support services, that industry offered the highest average salary in 2013, at $53,770 a year. Montana was the lowest-paying state at $31,360 and Alaska offered the highest annual wage at $57,040. Mental health counselors must have a master’s degree and a license to practice, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They may also be certified.
Marriage and Family Therapists
The salary range for MFTs was $29,980 to $78,580 in 2013, with an average annual salary of $51,690 a year, according to the BLS. The majority of MFTs worked in individual and family services, where the average annual salary was $45,160. The next largest group worked in state government, the highest-paying work setting at $65,840. Although not all states reported salary data on MFTs to the BLS in 2013, of those that did report, Kentucky and Louisiana were the lowest-paying states at $35,520 a year. MFTs in New Jersey earned the most, with an average annual salary of $71,250. Marriage and family therapists must have a master’s degree and a license to practice, according to the BLS.
Licensed Clinical Social Workers
Salary for LCSWs ranged between $31,690 and $81,770 in 2013, according to the BLS. The average annual salary was $56,060. The BLS groups LCSWs under “all other social workers” and reports that most worked for local governments or the federal government, where the average annual salaries were $58,800 and $71,030, respectively. The federal government was also the highest-paying industry or work setting. LCSWs in Montana, the lowest-paying state, earned $38,620 a year. Rhode Island offered the highest average annual salary, at $70,860. Licensed clinical social workers are master’s prepared and can provide psychotherapy. Other social workers typically provide case management and daily living assistance, according to NAMI.
Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists
Clinical, counseling and school psychologists typically have a doctoral degree, and must be licensed, according to NAMI. The BLS groups them together for salary purposes, and reports the average annual salary was $72,710 in 2013, with a range from $39,020 to $112,380. Elementary schools and offices of other health practitioners employed the majority of these professionals, with salaries of $71,840 and $80,600, respectively. However, scientific research and development was the industry with the highest pay, at $91,990 a year. West Virginia reported the lowest average annual salary of $50,770 and Hawaii was the highest-paying state, with an average annual salary of $102,990.
Psychiatrists Top the List
As physicians, with the broadest scope of practice and authority to prescribe medication, psychiatrists had the highest earnings of all therapists in 2013. They must be licensed to practice and most are board certified, according to NAMI. The average annual salary was $182,660 in 2013, with a range from $69,790 to at least $187,199, according to the BLS. Most psychiatrists worked in private practice or psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals in 2013. Salaries in those two work settings were $179,210 and $179,170, respectively. Although vocational rehabilitation services offer few jobs, it was the work setting with the highest pay, at an average of $215,530 a year. Psychiatrists in Utah had the lowest average annual salary at $86,260, and Maine was the highest-paying state at $232,310.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: Mental Health Professionals - Who They Are and How to Find One
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013 21-1014 Mental Health Counselors
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013 21-1013 Marriage and Family Therapists
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Social Workers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013 21-1029 Social Workers, All Other
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013 19-3031 Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013 29-1066 Psychiatrists
- Photo Credit DragonImages/iStock/Getty Images
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