Doctorate in Mental Health Counseling: Jobs & Salary

May 31, 2020

A doctorate program in mental health counseling provides students with the advanced counseling skills and knowledge of mental health and human behavior needed to work in several different careers. These careers vary across the job fields of social services, education and more. Below is a list of a few of the possible careers for graduates with a doctorate in mental health counseling.

Careers for a Doctorate Degree in Mental Health Counseling

Job Title Median Salary (2019)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Mental Health Counselors $46,240 22% (for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors)
Substance Abuse or Behavioral Disorder Counselors $46,240 22% (for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors)
Clinical Managers $53,192 (for all mental health supervisors)** 18% (for all medical and health services managers)
Postsecondary Health Specialties Teachers $97,320 23%
Marriage and Family Therapists $49,610 22%

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ** (2020)

Doctorate in Mental Health Counseling Career Options

Mental Health Counselors

Mental health counselors need at least a master's degree, but some choose to pursue a doctorate in the field. These counselors are trained to work with individuals, groups, families and couples in counseling sessions that may address issues like depression, grief, anxiety, relationship problems and emotional issues. They may diagnose some of these issues, as well as help their clients process hard life circumstances and provide them with additional resources if needed. Mental health counselors also help their clients learn strategies for modifying their behavior and better controlling how they react to different situations.

Substance Abuse or Behavioral Disorder Counselors

Helping individuals face, heal and recover from drug, alcohol and eating additions, along with behavioral health issues are the core responsibilities of these types of counselors. The training received through the Ph.D. in Mental Health Counseling program equip graduates to provide advanced counseling skills in order to guide patients through a recommended treatment plan. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors teach individuals coping mechanisms, identify interferences and suggest additional resources to help the healing process. These counselors require at least a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree and higher is needed for services such as private one-on-one counseling sessions.

Clinical Managers

One of the benefits of the doctorate program in mental health counseling is the ability to train counselors how to supervise a team or department in a clinical setting. As a clinical manager in a healthcare facility dealing with mental health for patients, one would establish and implement goals of the programs and treatment services. Clinical managers also oversee, mentor and evaluate staff; determine budgets; and collaborate with administrators to set strategic planning efforts. Some administrative tasks such as reporting writing and clinical documentation maintenance may be required. Aside from licensure in a counseling-related field, clinical managers at this level require at least a master's and often a doctorate in the field.

Postsecondary Health Specialties Teachers

The majority of postsecondary educators need a Ph.D., and graduates with a Ph.D. in mental health counseling may be interested in sharing their knowledge of the field with the next class of students. Health specialties teachers at this level usually teach multiple courses pertaining to their area of expertise, which requires them to create lesson plans and assignments. Depending on the institution, these teachers may also need to supervise the work of graduate students, serve on various committees and conduct their own research in their respective field.

Marriage and Family Therapists

Similar to mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists need at least a master's degree, but a doctorate degree may help them better counsel their clients. Mental health therapists counsel individuals, couples and/or families through their various issues while keeping a family-centered perspective to the treatment. Using this setting helps therapists determine how family roles, relationships and life circumstances affect the client's mental health.

A doctorate in mental health counseling can be beneficial in several counseling-oriented careers, as well as the postsecondary educator field. Some of these careers may offer lower than expected median salaries (less than $50,000) due to the nature and funding of social service positions.

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