Salary Outlook with Ph.D. in Mental Health Counseling Degree

A mental health counselor helps people deal with many of the problems in their daily lives, teaching them ways to handle stress, grief, anger, and other negative feelings. There are many ways to become a mental health counselor, but getting your Ph.D. in Mental Health Counseling allows you to work in private practice and offer your patients more treatment options.

Earning your Ph.D. also offers the opportunity to research new ways to provide mental health treatments. You also may use your advanced degree to teach psychology students at the bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral level, giving you a chance to have even more of an impact on this important field.

Getting your doctoral degree in this field is a good idea, but it takes many years of dedication, as well as a lot of money. Determining if it is worth it depends on many factors, one of which is the salary you can expect to earn.

Below is more information about the salary you can expect as a mental health counselor with a Ph.D.

Salary Outlook Ph.D. in Mental Health Counseling

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median annual salary for all mental health counselors was $44,600 in 2018. However, the top 10% earned $72,990. A professional with a Ph.D. in the field can expect to earn at the top of the salary scale. The median salaries for this profession were as follows for these top industries: (

  • Government: $51,600
  • Hospitals: $48,300
  • Individual and family services: $44,100
  • Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers: $43,100
  • Residential mental health and substance abuse centers: $38,100 reports the average salary for mental health counselors is $41,099, with a range between $31,000 and $58,000. ( For professionals with a Ph.D. in mental health counseling, Payscale reports an average salary of $87,000. (

Many professionals with this Ph.D. also may decide to work in marriage and family therapy. BLS reports the median salary for marriage and family therapists was $50,090 in 2018, with the top 10% earning more than $82,200. ( The top industries for marriage and family therapists are:

  • State government: $69,900
  • Outpatient care centers: $51,200
  • Offices of other health practitioners: $49,100
  • Individual and family services: $44,700
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High Salary Growth Ph.D. in Mental Health Counseling

If you want to earn as much money as you can with your mental health counseling degree, you may want to consider working as a licensed psychologist. The median salary for psychologists was $79,000 in 2018, with the top 10% earning more than $129,000 per year. Some psychologists earn a median salary of $100,000, and clinical psychologists, counseling psychologists, and school psychologists earn $76,900. (

Ph.D. Job Outlook

Professionals who decide to get their Ph.D. in mental health counseling can look forward to many exciting career options. BLS states job demand for mental health counselors will rise by an impressive 23% from 2016 to 2026, which is much faster than average. It is expected that employment growth will be driven by people wanting more help with mental health counseling and addiction. Also, in the criminal justice system, there are more people being sent to mental health professionals to ensure that they do not become repeat offenders. (

The job outlook for psychologists is also good. BLS states there will be a 14% increase in jobs in this field, which is faster than average. Employment for clinical psychologists, counseling psychologists and school psychologists will increase by 14% as well. People are generally turning to counselors and psychologists more as they are getting older and want to improve their quality of life by dealing with their mental health and relationship problems. (

Featured Online Ph.D. in Mental Health Counseling Programs

Capella University offers an online Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision that will help you to become a better mental health counselor, and you also will advance as a mental health counseling leader, educator, and researcher. This five-year program offers you the means to practice the real-world application of theories while building skills in teaching, counseling, leadership, and supervision.

Key aspects of this Ph.D. program are:

  • 9 core classes
  • 3 residencies
  • 2 internships
  • Dissertation required

This program has been designed to remove many of the difficulties in your dissertation process. This approach supports students through specialized program structure, dedicated faculty, and online support, as well as many helpful online resources. To ensure the best dissertation possible, you will begin this process early in the program with the help of your personal dissertation advisor. (

Required courses for this accredited Ph.D. program include:

  • Advanced Research in Human Development
  • Foundations of Advanced Social Science Research and Design
  • Quantitative Methods for Counselor Education Research
  • Advanced Qualitative Methods in Counselor Education Research
  • Advanced Counseling Practice
  • Counselor Education Teaching and Practice
  • Counselor Supervision
  • Leadership and Advocacy in Counseling
  • Practicum and Internship
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Obtaining your Ph.D. in mental health counseling is a strong career choice for those who want to work in the growing mental health, psychology careers, and related healthcare fields. It is anticipated that healthcare jobs overall will increase by 18% through 2026. As the US population gets older and lives longer, more will want to work on their mental health issues to ensure they live a happier life. So, you have an excellent career before you with good pay with this Ph.D.