Low self-esteem, grief, addiction and stress are just a few of the specialties of the family therapist. Also known as a family counselor, this mental health professional offers a family perspective to the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders. A family counselor looks at the family unit to provide better insight into the patient’s behaviors, attitudes and reactions to situations. Regardless of employer, therapists need a master’s degree in counseling or marriage and family therapy to practice.
In 2012, family therapists earned an average of $49,270 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10 percent of earners made more than $75,120, while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $25,540 annually. But none of these figures account for practice setting -- a factor that has some bearing on earnings.
At general medical hospitals, family counselors averaged $51,630 a year, reports the BLS. Those working at private hospitals earned an average of $50,520, while those at psychiatric or substance abuse hospitals earned $48,810. Some of the lowest wages paid were at outpatient care centers, where patients are admitted for care without an overnight stay. Salaries averaged at $45,240 a year.
Among the states, New Jersey offered the highest wages for family therapists, with an average of $67,870 a year. Those working in Wyoming ranked second, averaging $63,840 a year, while those in Hawaii were a close third, with an average of $62,630 a year. The lowest wages paid were in West Virginia, where the average was $33,530.
The BLS expects employment for family therapists to grown by 41 percent through 2020. This is almost three times as fast as the national average for all U.S. occupations. In years past, insurance companies were more apt to cover the cost of psychiatrists and psychologists than their alternatives, such as therapists and counselors. But therapists and counselors are less costly, so providers are now including them in coverage plans, helping to drive growth for these occupations. The 41 percent translates into the creation of almost 15,000 new jobs. Therapists and counselors retiring or leaving the profession should create additional openings.