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How Much Do Marriage Family Therapists Make?

Marriage and family therapy (MFT) is a type of psychotherapy that looks at the behavior of every family member, how the actions affect the individual, and also relationships with other family members. Marriage and family therapy is usually spent partially on one-on-one therapy, with the rest of the time spent on the individual and the family. MFT also may be called ‘couple and family therapy,’ marriage counseling or family counseling. (Psychologytoday.com)

Marriage and family therapy is used for the following problems:

  • Marital and couple disagreements
  • Parent and child arguments
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Grief and distress
  • Eating disorders and weight problems
  • Sexual dysfunction

Marriage and family therapy usually is short-term therapy, with 12 sessions focused on finding solutions. More sessions could be needed, depending on the severity and nature of the problems involved. This type of therapy focuses on how a person’s behavior affects the individual. It also looks at how that person’s behavior affects his relationship with another person or the family.

SEE ALSO: What is a PsyD in Marriage Family Therapy Degree?

To become a marriage and family therapist, you need to have at least a master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy. Also, you are required to have at least two years or 3,000 clinical hours of experience under a licensed marriage and family therapist.

SEE ALSO: Online Ph.D. in Marriage & Family Therapy DMFT Programs

With the amount of education that it takes to become a marriage and family therapist, it is smart to look at the salary you can earn in this field. Below is more information.

Marriage and Family Therapist Salary Information

There is ample data available about potential salaries for marriage and family therapists.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, a division of the Department of Labor, states the median salary for marriage and family therapists was $50,090 in 2018. The lowest 10% earned $31,850, and the top 10% earned more than $82,200. (BLS.gov)

With a doctoral degree in psychology or marriage and family therapy, you will be able to earn towards the higher end of the wage scale. The best way to make the maximum salary as an MFT is with a doctorate in private practice. It could take many years of experience to make above $80,000, however.

In 2018, BLS also stated the salary for marriage and family therapists in the top industries were as follows:

  • The state government, not including education and hospitals: $69,900
  • Outpatient care centers: $51,270
  • Health practitioner offices: $49,100
  • Individual and family services: $44,700

BLS also reports detailed salary information for psychologists; it is possible to become a practicing psychologist with a marriage and family therapy degree. BLS states the median salary for all types of psychologists in 2018 was $79,000. The top 10% of wage earners made more than $129,000 per year. Again, most of these professionals had Psychology doctorate degrees and many years of experience as private practice psychologists.

BLS also reported the median salary for counseling psychologists and clinical psychologists was $76,990, with the following industries as the top paying ones:

  • Government: $96,500
  • Hospitals: $86,400
  • Ambulatory healthcare services: $79,100
  • Elementary and secondary schools: $75,800

US News and World Report

US News and World Report state that marriage and family therapists earn a median salary of $48,790. The top 25% earn $63,000, and the lowest 25% earn $37,800. (USNews.com). This source also finds the best-paying cities for MFTs are:

  • Napa CA: $80,700
  • Eugene OR: $79,500
  • Fayetteville NC: $76,300
  • Trenton NJ: $76,200
  • Charlotte NC: $76,000

The best-paying states are:

  • New Jersey: $74,100
  • Colorado: $68,200
  • Hawaii: $67,000
  • Maine: $66,300
  • Arizona: $64,400

US News and World Report also published this average salary data from 2017:

  • Marriage and family therapists: $53,800
  • Clinical social workers: $56,800
  • Child and family social workers: $48,400
  • Mental health counselors: $46,500
  • Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors: $46,500

Payscale.com

Payscale.com reports the average salary for an MFT is $54,100. Professionals just beginning their Psychology careers earn approximately $40,000. The most experienced counselors earn $78,000 per year. (Payscale.com). Also reported is the salary for a licensed marriage and family therapist: $54,700.

Payscale also reports that self-employed marriage and family therapists earn an average salary of $60,000 per year, while an MFT working for Kaiser Permanente earns $77,000 per year.

Ziprecruiter.com

Ziprecruiter.com reports the average salary for an MFT is $72,600 per year. This website reports salaries as low as $23,000 and as high as $116,500. Most MFT salaries are between $56,000 and $81,000. (Ziprecruiter.com)

Job Outlook for Marriage and Family Therapists

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job demand for MFTs is looking good for the next decade. BLS states there will be a 22% increase in employment, much faster than the average for other types of work. Job growth should occur because of more usage of integrated care. Integrated care is the treatment of several problems simultaneously by a group of mental health specialists. In integrated care, an MFT will work with other counselors, including those who specialize in substance abuse, behavior disorders, and eating disorders. (BLS.gov)

Summary

The salary outlook for marriage and family therapists with a doctoral degree and significant experience is robust. It is possible to earn above $75,000 per year with enough education and experience. If you only have your master’s degree, your salary is unlikely to rise above $60,000 or so.

You also can find work as a psychologist and enjoy a salary of $70,000 or higher with a doctoral degree. Job demand in this field is strong and growing for the next decade, according to BLS data, as well.

NARROW YOUR PROGRAM SEARCH

Ann Steele, Ph.D.

Ann Steele, Ph.D.

Editor-In-Chief

Ann Steele, Ph.D., is Editor-In-Chief of PsydPrograms.org. Ann has training as a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst who has worked with adults, couples, adolescents, and preteens throughout San Diego county.