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Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yq2ylfyP9VY.
Quick Facts: Marriage and Family Therapists
2023 Median Pay $58,510 per year
$28.13 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Master's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Internship/residency
Number of Jobs, 2022 71,200
Job Outlook, 2022-32 15% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2022-32 10,600

What Marriage and Family Therapists Do

Marriage and family therapists diagnose and treat cognitive, behavioral, or similar disorders in the context of couples and other relationships.

Work Environment

Marriage and family therapists work in a variety of settings, such as offices and mental health centers. Most work full time, but part-time work is common. Some therapists work evenings and weekends.

How to Become a Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage and family therapists typically need a master’s degree to enter the occupation. Every state requires therapists to be licensed.

Pay

The median annual wage for marriage and family therapists was $58,510 in May 2023.

Job Outlook

Employment of marriage and family therapists is projected to grow 15 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 5,900 openings for marriage and family therapists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for marriage and family therapists.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of marriage and family therapists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about marriage and family therapists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Marriage and Family Therapists Do About this section

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists
Marriage and family therapists encourage clients to discuss their emotions and experiences.

Marriage and family therapists diagnose and treat cognitive, behavioral, or similar disorders in the context of couples and other relationships.

Duties

Marriage and family therapists typically do the following:

  • Assess clients to identify their emotional, behavioral, and psychological needs
  • Ask questions that encourage clients to discuss their emotions and experiences
  • Help clients process their reactions and adjust to difficult changes that relate to marriage and family dynamics, such as divorce
  • Create a treatment plan that helps clients develop coping strategies and decision-making skills
  • Refer clients to other specialists, resources, or services in the community
  • Complete and maintain confidential files and records

Marriage and family therapists work with individuals, couples, and families. Even when treating individuals, therapists focus on family systems. They evaluate family relationships and development to understand how these affect clients’ mental health. Treatment often involves addressing issues, such as low self-esteem and addiction, that impact clients’ relationships.

Marriage and family therapists assess each client’s situation and determine the best type, or types, of technique for treatment. They use a variety of techniques and tools to treat clients. For example, a therapist may apply cognitive behavioral therapy to help the client understand harmful thoughts, feelings, and beliefs and how to replace them with positive ones.

Therapists also have administrative duties, including maintaining records to document client visits. Those working in private practice must market their business to prospective clients, and they may need to follow up with insurance companies and clients to get payment for their services.

Marriage and family therapists coordinate client treatment with other specialists, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers.

Work Environment About this section

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists
Many marriage and family therapists work in private practice.

Marriage and family therapists held about 71,200 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of marriage and family therapists were as follows:

Individual and family services 29%
Offices of other health practitioners 28
Outpatient care centers 13
Self-employed workers 11
State government, excluding education and hospitals 6

Marriage and family therapists work in a variety of settings. In addition to those shown in the table, which include mental health centers and substance abuse treatment centers, their work settings include schools and hospitals.

Some marriage and family therapists offer telehealth options, in which they meet with clients by phone, video, or other virtual method.

Work Schedules

Most marriage and family therapists work full time, but part-time work is common. Some therapists work evenings and weekends to accommodate their clients’ schedules.

How to Become a Marriage and Family Therapist About this section

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists
Master's programs in marriage and family therapy prepare students to provide counseling to couples, individuals, and groups.

Marriage and family therapists typically need a master’s degree to enter the occupation. Every state requires therapists to be licensed.

Education

To enter the occupation, marriage and family therapists need a master’s degree in psychology, marriage and family therapy, or a related mental health field from an accredited school. Organizations that accredit these programs include the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE), and the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC).

Admissions requirements vary by program. Applicants may need to have completed specific coursework, such as counseling and statistics, or to have a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field.

Marriage and family therapy programs teach students about how marriages, families, and relationships function and how these relationships can affect mental and emotional health. Programs typically include a supervised practicum or internship where students gain experience working with clients.

Training

Candidates gain hands-on experience through postdegree supervised clinical work. During this training, they work under the supervision of a licensed counselor and learn to provide family therapy, group therapy, psychotherapy, and other therapeutic interventions directly to clients.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require marriage and family therapists to be licensed. Licensure requires a master’s degree and completion of a state-specified number of hours of postdegree supervised clinical experience. In addition, therapists must pass a state-recognized exam, such as that administered by the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards, and complete annual continuing education classes. Some states require passage of a jurisprudence exam.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Marriage and family therapists need to effectively convey ideas and listen to clients. Because they instruct clients on improving communication, it is important that they model effective communication themselves.

Compassion. Marriage and family therapists often work with people who are dealing with stressful and difficult situations, so they must be able to empathize with their clients.

Interpersonal skills. Marriage and family therapists must be able to work effectively with different types of people. They need to develop a rapport when working with clients to help them feel comfortable.

Organizational skills. Marriage and family therapists need to maintain records of client interactions. Therapists in private practice also must keep track of payments and work with insurance companies.

Pay About this section

Marriage and Family Therapists

Median annual wages, May 2023

Marriage and family therapists

$58,510

Counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialists

$51,970

Total, all occupations

$48,060

 

The median annual wage for marriage and family therapists was $58,510 in May 2023. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $39,090, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $104,710.

In May 2023, the median annual wages for marriage and family therapists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

State government, excluding education and hospitals $86,030
Outpatient care centers 61,390
Individual and family services 50,700
Offices of other health practitioners 49,190

Most marriage and family therapists work full time, but part-time work is common. Some therapists work evenings and weekends to accommodate their clients’ schedules.

Job Outlook About this section

Marriage and Family Therapists

Percent change in employment, projected 2022-32

Marriage and family therapists

15%

Counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialists

9%

Total, all occupations

3%

 

Employment of marriage and family therapists is projected to grow 15 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 5,900 openings for marriage and family therapists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Growth is expected due to the increasing use of integrated care, which is a treatment of multiple problems at one time by a group of specialists. In providing integrated care, marriage and family therapists are working with counselors such as substance abuse, behavior disorder, and mental health counselors to address clients' issues as a team.

Employment projections data for marriage and family therapists, 2022-32
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2022 Projected Employment, 2032 Change, 2022-32 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Marriage and family therapists

21-1013 71,200 81,800 15 10,600 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.org. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of marriage and family therapists.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2023 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Physicians and surgeons Physicians and Surgeons

Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses and address health maintenance.

Doctoral or professional degree This wage is equal to or greater than $239,200 per year.
Psychologists Psychologists

Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how people relate to one another and to their environments.

See How to Become One $92,740
Rehabilitation counselors Rehabilitation Counselors

Rehabilitation counselors help people with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities live independently.

Master's degree $44,040
School and Career Counselors School and Career Counselors and Advisors

School counselors help students develop academic and social skills. Career counselors and advisors help people choose a path to employment.

Master's degree $61,710
Social and community service managers Social and Community Service Managers

Social and community service managers coordinate and supervise programs and organizations that support public well-being.

Bachelor's degree $77,030
Social and human service assistants Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants provide client services in a variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work.

High school diploma or equivalent $41,410
Social workers Social Workers

Social workers help people prevent and cope with problems in their everyday lives.

See How to Become One $58,380
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors advise people on a range of issues, such as those relating to alcoholism, addictions, or depression.

Bachelor's degree $53,710
Health educators Health Education Specialists

Health education specialists develop programs to teach people about conditions affecting well-being.

Bachelor's degree $62,860
genetic counselors image Genetic Counselors

Genetic counselors assess clients' risk for a variety of inherited conditions, such as birth defects.

Master's degree $95,770

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about accredited programs, visit

Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education

Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs

Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council

For more information about marriage and family therapists, visit

American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards

For general information about counseling and for information about counseling specialties, visit

American Counseling Association

For information about contacting state regulating boards, visit

National Board for Certified Counselors

O*NET

Marriage and Family Therapists

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Marriage and Family Therapists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/marriage-and-family-therapists.htm (visited July 08, 2024).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2024

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2022

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2022, which is the base year of the 2022-32 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2022-32

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032. The average growth rate for all occupations is 3 percent.

Employment Change, 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.