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Entry-Level Mental Health Careers

Most people experience mental health issues as some point in their life. They can benefit from counseling or by being referred to services that can help them address their issues. Entry-level careers in mental health are explored further in this article.

Career Options for Entry-Level Mental Health Jobs

Mental health refers to a person's mental and emotional state and their ability to cope with stress, personal problems or illnesses that may affect their mental or emotional state. Any career that involves helping people manage stress, mental health conditions or other issues that may affect them mentally or emotionally relates to mental health. Entry-level positions in this field are careers that do not require extensive work experience in the field, although some skills gained through an internship or volunteer work may be required; applicants can pursue entry-level mental health occupations by meeting the educational requirements or learning through on-the-job training.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Health Educators and Community Health Workers $44,390 16%
Psychiatric Technicians and Aides $28,670 6%
Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides $22,170 40%
Substance Abuse, Behavior Disorder and Mental Health Counselors $42,150 20%
Social and Human Service Assistants $31,810 16%
Social Workers $46,890 15%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Entry-Level Mental Health Jobs

Health Educators and Community Health Workers

Health educators are required to have a bachelor's degree while community health workers can enter the field with a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Since prior experience isn't required for either position they qualify as an entry-level career options. Health educators create and lead health programs while community health workers help individuals in their community who have health concerns or needs. It's common for health educators to help people manage stress and community health workers may also counsel individuals with personal issues, so both health educators and community health workers play a role in helping individuals with mental health issues.

Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Psychiatric technicians and aides spend their careers working with individuals with mental health conditions. They may be involved with addressing behavioral issues, observing the behavior of patients and providing therapeutic activities or medication. A career as a psychiatric aide can be pursued with a high school diploma or GED; psychiatric technicians are required to have a certificate or associate's degree in a related field.

Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

Home health aides and personal care aides provide direct care to individuals who need help due to illness or disabilities. While many tasks they perform relate to the physical care of their clients they may also provide companionship and consult with therapists or other professionals about any concerns they have about their clients, including their mental and emotional state. It's most common for professionals in this field to have a high school diploma or GED and on-the-job training.

Substance Abuse, Behavior Disorder and Mental Health Counselors

Substance abuse, behavior disorder and mental health counselors help their patients deal with a wide range of issues that can impact their mental health, such as depression or addiction. The training requirements can vary based on employers and roles, but it's possible to start out in roles in this field with a high school diploma and certification or by earning a bachelor's degree. These counselors diagnose and treat patients.

Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants focus on assisting clients who have a range of issues, including psychological issues. This can involve finding treatment options for individuals or support groups that can help them address specific problems. It's possible to pursue work in this field with a high school diploma or GED and on-the-job training. Completing a related certificate or associate's degree may increase job prospects but prior practical experience is not required.

Social Workers

Although a master's degree and clinical experience is required to be a clinical social worker, there are many entry-level positions in the field of social work that can be pursued after completing a bachelor's degree in social work. These entry-level positions including being a mental health assistant. Social workers provide support to people who have personal challenges and they also help people with mental health issues.


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