Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Career Outlook

Sep 16, 2019

Cognitive behavioral therapy is generally offered at the master's or doctoral degree levels. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career outlook and salary projections for graduates.

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Cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of psychotherapy practiced by either mental health counselors or clinical psychologists, is used to help correct patient's thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Mental health counselors need a master's degree and state licensure to practice, while clinical or counseling psychologists typically need a PhD. Both paths have good career outlook over the next ten years.

Essential Information

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that aims to identify and correct a patient's negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors. It's used to treat a variety of problems, such as anxiety, substance abuse and eating, personality and sleep disorders. Job opportunities for counselors and psychologists in general, including those who specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy, are expected to increase in the coming years.

Career Titles Mental Health Counselors Clinical and Counseling Psychologists
Education Requirements A master's degree in psychology A doctorate degree in psychology or clinical psychology
Licensure Requirements State license required to practice State license required to practice
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 22%* 15%*
Median Annual Salary (2018) $44,630* $76,990*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Studies in cognitive behavioral therapy could lead to careers as mental health counselors or private practice clinical psychologists. The latter career choice requires significantly more education.

Career Outlook for Counselors

Cognitive behavioral therapists who hold a master's degree in psychology might qualify for state licensure as mental health counselors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for these counselors were projected to grow much faster than average through 2028, which is quite a bit higher than the average of all occupations. In May 2018, the BLS reported that counselors in the 90th percentile or higher earned $72,990 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $28,240 or less per year.

The growth in positions for mental health counselors was partially attributed to insurance companies' practice of providing more reimbursement for counseling as a less costly alternative to psychological or psychiatric services. Society's enhanced knowledge of addiction problems was cited as a reason for the forecast increase in jobs among substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors.

Career Outlook for Clinical and Counseling Psychologists

Cognitive behavioral therapists with a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Psychology or a Doctor of Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.), as well as a state license to practice psychology, are included among the BLS classification for clinical, counseling and school psychologists. Employment opportunities for this group were expected to increase much faster than the average through 2028. In May 2018, the BLS reported that professionals in the 90th percentile or higher earned $129,310 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $44,040 or less per year.

The BLS attributed part of the expected growth for clinical and counseling psychologists to a rise in cases of depression and other mental disorders, in addition to an increase in patients dealing with marriage and family problems, addictions, job stress and economic hardship. Additionally, more clinical psychologists should be needed to assist with prevention and psychological treatment programs, which were forecast to grow because of more cases of alcohol use, smoking and obesity, as well as a large number of veterans returning home from war.

There is a demand for both mental health counselors and psychologists, who could use cognitive behavioral therapy as a technique for treating patients. Mental health counselors require less education--typically a master's degree before pursuing certification--although their salary range is lower. Psychologists require a doctorate degree to practice.

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