Is An MFT Degree Worth It?
Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) are mental health counselors that offer psychotherapy services and counseling to individuals and couples. These healthcare professionals work in schools, hospitals, outpatient care facilities, addiction treatment centers, and private practice.
MFTs treat many client issues, including:
- Couples coping with infidelity problems
- Families dealing with divorce
- Adults with PTSD
- Adolescents and children with eating disorders
- Couples with general marital problems
Becoming a marriage and family therapist can be the right career choice if you want to help people overcome their problems and make a difference in their lives. Entering this field requires a master’s degree and license, so it is critical to know if earning this degree is worthwhile.
Below are some of the benefits of earning this prestigious degree and working as an MFT.
#1 Strong Personal Growth
Most MFTs cite personal growth as one of the most significant benefits of the work. As you help to transform and improve lives, you often experience personal growth. This happens from obtaining better insight into people and relationships.
By studying the larger picture in human relationships and conflicts, you begin to see behavior patterns that apply to your own life and relationships.
Working with people who are in pain and strife can enhance your appreciation for your partner, spouse, family, and friends.
#2 Robust Salary Potential
Getting your masters in marriage and family therapy makes sense from a financial perspective. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states the median salary for MFTs in 2019 was $49,610, with the top 10% earning at least $87,000.
Median wages in the field for the top industries were:
- State government: $72,300
- Outpatient care centers: $52,100
- Individual and family services: $45,600
- Offices of other health practitioners: $45,150
Payscale.com reports the median salary for MFTs is $49,100, with a range between $37,000 and $74,000.
#3 Booming Job Demand
If you earn your master’s in this field, you probably will not have trouble finding a job. BLS reports employment of MFTs will rise by 22% by 2028, which is much faster than average compared to other occupations.
Growth is expected because of the greater use of integrated care, which is treating several problems at once by a group of doctors and specialists. When integrated care is used, MFTs work with other counselors in addiction, behavior disorders, and mental health counseling to help couples’ issues.
Additionally, US News & World Report states that the field’s unemployment rate is only 1.8%.
#4 Job Flexibility
With the strong demand for marriage and family therapists, you have many job options. Some of the places you can work include:
Once you have earned your license, some of the places you can work include:
- Private practice
- Public and government agencies, such as the Department of Public Social Services, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Children and Family Services.
- In-patient facilities
- Non-profit organizations
- Hospitals and medical settings
- Police departments
- Faith-based agencies
- Research centers
- Employee assistance programs
- Out-patient clinics
- Schools and universities
- Court systems
- Specialized treatment centers, such as for domestic violence or addictions
#5 High Work Satisfaction
US News & World Report states that MFT’s job is the 5th-best social services job in the country. The news site notes that the job gets strong marks for:
- Salary potential
- Unemployment rate
- Job growth over ten years
- Stress level
- Work-life balance
According to a survey of Minnesota MFTs in 2017, 97% of surveyed said they were either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their careers. Most said their satisfaction stems from their relationships and close work with patients and clients.
The primary source of dissatisfaction in the survey was not being an MFT: It was handling the paperwork required by insurance companies for reimbursement.
#6 Low Stress
While MFTs work with people who have mental health and relationship problems, there usually is less stress than many social service occupations.
One reason is you do not need to do as much multitasking; you are working with one client at a time and can focus your efforts there.
You also can enjoy having a regular work schedule during the week, which prompted a health work-life balance. The work environment in this field lacks the fast pace and cutthroat nature of much of the business world.
For example, the survey of MFTs in Minnesota found that 43% of those surveyed worked 31-40 hours per week. Only 4% worked up to 60 hours.
The same survey found that 73% of respondents intend to stay in the field for more than 10 years. This suggests most MFTs are satisfied with their careers.
What The Experts Say
To learn what MFTs and others say about the profession, we checked in at Quora.com.
We asked this question: What is the difference between a marriage and family therapist and a family therapist?
- “The main difference lies in the emphasis and focus. A marriage therapist works mostly with couples, and a family therapist works with the family unit. That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have sessions with individuals, but usually in the context of working with a couple. Other counselors I know work with families, which usually considers the broader dynamics of the family unit. But, that could also mean working with couples only since they are part of the family unit.” – Gideon Hanekom, Relationship Blogger, and Coach.
- “In the US, some states have a license called a “marriage and family therapy” license. There are master’s degree programs that are specifically for MFTs. Typically, if a person is trained in couples (or marriage) counseling, that person is trained in family therapy.” – Ken Mallon, Professional Clinical Counselor.
MFT Degree Summary
Obtaining your marriage and family master’s degree can be beneficial and worthwhile if you want a career with high job satisfaction, a substantial salary, and an excellent work-life balance.
- Marriage and Family Therapists Overview. Accessed at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/marriage-and-family-therapists.htm
- Marriage and Family Therapist Salary. Accessed at https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Certification=Marriage_Family_Therapy_(MFT)_License/Salary
- Marriage and Family Therapist Job Demand. Accessed at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/marriage-and-family-therapists.htm#tab-6
- Marriage and Family Therapist Career. Accessed at https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/marriage-and-family-therapist
- Marriage and Family Therapist Career Survey. Accessed at https://www.health.state.mn.us/data/workforce/mh/docs/2017lmft.pdf