A career in the mental health field usually requires education and training. Those who have a career in the mental health field often spend their time talking to patients, who often suffer from mental illness, drug or alcohol addiction, behavioral disorders or family problems. The field has rapidly expanded in the last century, and research on brain functioning and behavior continues to advance.
Psychiatrists specialize in the medical aspects of mental health and mental disorders, which requires that they undergo extensive education. Most psychiatrists have at least a bachelor's degree and medical doctorate degree, in addition to a residency for at least four years. Once these requirements have been completed, they must pass the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology's license examination. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for psychiatrists in 2008 was $154,050.
Psychologists must also be familiar with the science of mental health and mental disorders; however, they tend to focus on "individual behavior and, specifically, in the beliefs and feelings that influence a person’s actions." They are often self-employed. Most of their practice revolves around individual meetings with clients, although they also undergo extensive research and schooling. In order to become certified, psychologists must complete a master's or doctoral degree program, as well as pass a certification exam. The 2008 average annual salary for psychologists was $64,140.
Social workers usually work in health care organizations or social assistance businesses, as well as government organizations. There are a variety of specialized areas available to social workers, such as family and child social worker careers, substance abuse social work careers and medical social work. A bachelor's degree in social work or a related subject may be sufficient for entry-level positions. More advanced degrees such as master's degrees or doctoral degrees will be needed for higher positions. Social workers must also be licensed before they can work professionally. The 2008 average annual salary for social workers was $39,530.