A Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling can be applied to several different kinds of counseling and social service careers that provide mental and emotional support and services to people. These careers vary slightly in their specializations and specific job duties, but overall aim to assist their clients. Below, we explore a handful of the available counseling and related jobs that typically require a master's degree.
Related Careers for a Master of Science Degree in Mental Health Counseling
|Job Title||Median Salary (2016)*||Job Growth (2014-2024)*|
|Mental Health Counselors||$42,840||20%|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$49,170||15%|
|School and Career Counselors||$54,560||8%|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Mental Health Counselors
An obvious career for graduates with a master's in mental health counseling is that of a mental health counselor. These counselors specialize in helping clients discuss and process through a wide variety of mental and/or emotional issues, as well as relationship problems. They may counsel individuals, groups, families or couples through issues such as anxiety, stress, grief, depression and more. Depending on their interests, some of these counselors may specialize in treating a specific population, like children or the elderly.
Marriage and Family Therapists
Marriage and family therapists also need a master's degree and perform many similar duties as mental health counselors. However, they specialize in presenting a family-centered perspective to counseling sessions and treatment plans with individuals, couples or families. They help patients examine the patient's personal relationships, family roles and other factors that could have an influence on the patient's mental health. These therapists may deal with some of the same mental health issues as mental health counselors, but may also address issues of addiction, substance abuse and more.
School and Career Counselors
A master's degree is typically required or preferred for school and career counselors. Though these counselors perform a different kind of counseling, they may still encounter some mental health issues with their clients. School counselors specialize in working with students at the elementary, middle or high school levels, and helping them develop and learn the necessary social and academic skills that they need to continue further in their education. School counselors must also be watchful of signs of abuse, distress, neglect and other potentially harmful issues affecting their students. Career counselors specialize in helping clients match their interests and skill sets with potential careers, as well as help prepare them for these careers through mock interviews, resume building and more.
Rehabilitation counselors need a master's degree in a field that will prepare them to provide effective mental health counseling, such as a master's in mental health counseling, to their patients. These counselors usually work with patients who have emotional, physical, developmental or mental disabilities to help them manage the effects of these disabilities. Their goal is to help these people be able to live independently and/or work, by using a combination of counseling and utilizing available resources, such as career training or access to wheelchairs and other medical devices. Rehabilitation counselors also help their clients understand their personal strengths and legal rights, and often advocate for the wellbeing of their patients.
Clinical social workers are required to have a master's degree, while many other kinds of social workers may choose to pursue a master's degree for advancement. Social workers often provide basic counseling to their clients to help them cope with their problems, especially clinical social workers who are qualified to diagnose and treat various emotional and mental issues. Social workers help their clients adjust to hard life circumstances and situations, and connect them with available community resources to ensure that their clients have what they need. These professionals provide follow-up visitations to make sure their clients are improving, as well as to evaluate the effectiveness of different programs and services.
A master's degree in mental health counseling is very flexible and prepares graduates for many kinds of counseling positions. However, since most of these careers are considered a social service, most offer a lower median salary (below $50,000), even with a master's degree.