Mental Health Counselor


What Are Mental Health Counselors?

A Mental Health Counselor work mainly focus on prevention. mental health counselorCounseling uses individuals and groupings to promote maximum mental and psychological health. It can help individuals package with issues associated with addictions and drug abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; and increasing age.

Mental health is considered as important as physical health if any individual. As per the study of Mental Health Foundation, one in every four individual is suffering from mental health problem. The clinical mental health counselor helps the individuals to deal with these mental health issues.

Quick Facts
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics.
2016 Median Annual Sallary$42,840
Typical Entry-Level EducationMaster's degree
Typical On-The-Job TrainingInternship/residency
Work Experience In A Related OccupationNone
Projected Job Openings 2014 - 202454,500
Employment Change 2014 - 202426,400
Projected Growth 2014 - 202419.6%

In the first place, it is important to understand that there is difference between clinical mental health counselors are clinical psychologists. As clinical psychologists deal with patients, suffering from serious and severe mental disorders, so the mental health counselors deal with patients with stable mental condition, but chronic or acute psychological issues like stress, anxiety and depression.

Steps to Become a Mental Health Counselor

In order to become a Clinical Mental Health Counselor, a professional degrees is required. In most cases, depending on the state you have studied in or employed in, the licensing requirements varies. The educational qualifications are as follows.

  • Bachelor’s Degree:

    An individual must have a Bachelor’s Degree. Although this could be in any field, however employers always prefer degree in psychology major. An Undergraduate in Psychology degree is the first step and the minimum qualification that you need to have.

  • Master’s Degree:

    A Master’s degree or graduate degree in specialized field of Psychology ensures a full time employment as a Mental Health Counselor. In this degree, you will learn:

    • Counseling theories
    • Legal, professional and ethical issues
    • Addiction and substance abuse
    • Cultural and social diversities
    • Learn to work with patients from different age-groups.

    Having previous degree in Psychology is always an advantage. In fact, some state universities offer Master’s in Psychological Counseling only to Psychology Undergraduates. You must take this rule into consideration before you apply.

  • Doctoral Degree:

    In many cases, the employers and the US licensing department for the Clinical Mental Health Counselors require to complete a Doctoral Degree to pursue in this career. A Mental Health Counselor also needs to:

    • Complete a year of internship
    • Do a coursework
    • Work under a supervision authority for a year or two that will ensure the licensing.

    However, in some cases, a Master’s Degree is enough and the Doctoral Degree is not mandatory. During the Doctoral degree, the individual explores techniques and methods regarding the counseling procedures. This requires a coursework, practical knowledge by dealing real patients, followed by the internship. Individuals might also have to right a thesis on the research work.

  • Licensing:

    Most of the states of United States would require to have a legal license to become a professional Mental Health Counselor. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) clearly states the rules of the individual states regarding the licensing requirement of a Mental Health Counselor. Therefore a Mental Health Counselor has to take the licensing test, provide the educational details and also present the details of the research work or coursework, the internship under a supervision authority and thus, the license to practice as a Mental Health Counselor can be obtained.

Job Outlook

Industries Profile for Mental Health Counselor

List of industries with the highest published employment and salary for this occupation is provided below:

Industries with the highest levels of employment in this occupation:

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics.
Individual and Family Services 30,170 1.79 $21.43 $44,580
Outpatient Care Centers 29,890 3.58 $21.52 $44,770
Residential Intellectual and Developmental Disability, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Facilities 16,160 2.64 $18.78 $39,060
Offices of Other Health Practitioners 11,490 1.37 $24.34 $50,640
Local Government (OES Designation) 11,130 0.21 $26.87 $55,880

Top paying industries for this occupation:

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics.
Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services 130 0.01 $31.58 $65,680
Junior Colleges 90 0.01 $31.29 $65,090
Insurance Carriers 120 0.01 $29.86 $62,100
Local Government (OES Designation) 11,130 0.21 $26.87 $55,880
Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals 420 0.16 $26.75 $55,650

Geographical Profile for Mental Health Counselor

List of states with the highest published employment and salary for this occupation is provided below:

States with the highest employment level in this occupation:

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics.
California 15,300 0.96 $22.63 $47,070
Pennsylvania 13,020 2.28 $20.91 $43,480
Virginia 8,980 2.40 $23.23 $48,310
New York 6,970 0.77 $20.23 $42,070
Massachusetts 6,830 1.98 $21.65 $45,030

Top paying states for this occupation:

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics.
Alaska 650 2.01 $31.50 $65,520
Utah 1,210 0.88 $29.37 $61,080
Wyoming 320 1.18 $27.90 $58,020
Oregon 2,720 1.53 $26.76 $55,670
New Jersey 4,790 1.22 $25.68 $53,410


  • Maintain confidentiality of information associated with clients’ treatment.
  • Encourage clients expressing their thoughts and discuss what’s going on in their lives, aiding them to build up understanding into themselves or their interactions.
  • Get information about clients through interviews, observation, or lab tests.
  • Assess patients for threat of suicide attempts.
  • Fill out and keep maintaining client-related paperwork, including federal government- and state-mandated varieties, client diagnostic data, and progress records.

Work Activities

  • Assisting and Looking After Others: Providing personal assistance, medical assistance, psychological support, or other personal treatment to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
  • Documenting/Saving Information: Getting into, transcribing, saving, storing, or retaining information in written or electronic digital/magnetic form.
  • Establishing Interpersonal Human Relationships: Expanding constructive and cooperative working romantic relationships with others, and retaining them as time passes.
  • Getting Information: Observing, getting, and usually obtaining information from all relevant options.
  • Performing for Public: Performing for folks or dealing immediately with the general public. This includes portion customers in restaurants and stores, and obtaining clients or friends.

Work Context

  • Organized Versus Unstructured Work: 84% responded “A whole lot of flexibility.”
  • Connection With Others: 91% responded “Regular connection with others.”
  • Cell Phone: 79% responded “Each day.”
  • Decision Power: 72% responded “A whole lot of liberty.”
  • Face-to-Face Conversations: 84% responded “Each day.”


Below are national percentile wage estimates for this occupation in United States.

PERCENTILE10%25%50% (MEDIAN)75%90%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics.
Hourly Wage$12.96$16.13$20.59$26.66$33.70
Annual Wage$26,950$33,560$42,840$55,440$70,100

PERCENTILE 10% 25% 50% 75% 90%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics.
Hourly Wage $12.96 $16.13 $20.59 $26.66 $33.70
Annual Wage $26,950 $33,560 $42,840 $55,440 $70,100

Key Attributes

Every field has basic requirements for people having different skills, abilities and knowledge. Understanding these requirements will help you find right career path for you. Below are few such key attributes that a Mental Health Counselor should have.


  • Active Hearing: Providing full focus on what other people say, taking time to comprehend the factors being made, requesting questions as appropriate.
  • Public Perceptiveness: Conscious of others’ reactions and understanding why they respond as they are doing.
  • Service Orientation: Finding ways and methods to help people.
  • Communication: Speaking with others to deliver information effectively.
  • Critical Thinking: Using logic to recognize the pros and cons of different solutions, conclusions or methods to a specific problems.


  • Psychology: Understanding of human patterns and performance; specific variations in potential, personality, and passions; learning and determination; emotional and mental health research methods; and the diagnosis and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Therapy and Counseling: Knowledge of guidelines, methods, and techniques of procedures for prognosis, treatment, and diagnosis of physical and mental dysfunctions, as well as for career guidance.
  • Customer and Personal Service: Knowledge of principles and functions for providing customer and personal services. This consists of customer needs evaluation, meeting quality expectations for services, and analysis of client satisfaction.
  • Sociology: Understanding of group habit, societal fads and influences, individuals ethnicity, civilizations and their background and origins.
  • English Language: Knowledge of the composition and content of the English language like the interpretation and spelling of words, guidelines of structure, and grammar.


  • Oral Manifestation: The capability to connect information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Problem Recognition: The capability to notify when something is incorrect or will probably go wrong. It generally does not involve solving the situation, only recognizing the problem.
  • Synthetical Reasoning: The capability to incorporate bits of information to create general guidelines or conclusions which includes getting a relationship among apparently unrelated situations.
  • Written Manifestation: The capability to understand information and ideas provided in writing.

Find Your State Licensing Requirements

Whether you need to complete an internship or a doctoral degree, licensing requirements may vary from state to state. Click name of state below to find licensing requirement for that particular state.

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