Mental health jobs are growing and the industry needs people. It is a competitive area of healthcare that requires advanced levels of education and a desire to help people. If you are looking for a challenge and a ton of career potential, you should seriously consider mental health jobs.
Mental health professionals treat and offer therapy for those that need counseling and mental-health help. They work in a variety of settings and take care of a variety of people; their patients range from people with severe mental disabilities, to people looking for couples counseling or someone to talk to.
Before narrowing down the options, you need to consider the type of environment where you want to work and the services each career path provides.
Top 10 Best Mental Health Jobs:
10. Peer Specialist
A peer specialist has gained their knowledge of mental health by living through an experience. They usually are required to take training courses, and offer help as someone who has been where the patient is now and who will help the patient set goals and move forward. These peer specialists usually work closely with mental health patients and in substance abuse programs. It is worth noting that most people in this position move on after about 10 years.
You can find Peer Specialists at rehab facilities, half-way houses, or at church-sanctioned programs. They act in leadership positions, many times while still combating their own substance-abuse problems or strengthening their mental health. The national average is about $12.00 an hour, but many of these specialists receive free or reduced housing and free meals (because they stay at the facilities).
9. Pastoral Counselor
This is a slightly different form of mental health counseling, where the counselor specializes in clergy and pastoral education. They are able to provide one-on-one and group therapy. This type of mental health professional tends to work in hospitals and community outreach centers for things such as domestic violence and substance abuse.
They are usually pastors and leaders of congregations that meet with people and treat a variety of mental health or behavioral issues through spiritual guidance and therapies. They base their counseling on the teachings of their faith and usually include prayer, scripture, and faith-based principles in their therapies.
To become a Pastoral Counselor, you must first be in a teaching/leadership position of a church and (in most cases) have a theology degree or be ordained. The national average for this position is $48,060, but many spiritual counselors don’t get paid based on their counseling, as it is part of the overall job of being a preacher or a priest.
8. Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor
This type of counselor is trained to diagnose and offer therapy services to individuals and groups, specializing in alcohol and drug abuse. You can take many paths to become one because some positions require less than an associate degree; others require a master’s. Your pay, level of autonomy, and your practice depends on your education, so the more education you have, the more benefits you will have.
Unfortunately, since there is a large number of people in our society addicted to drugs or dependent on alcohol, there is a great need for Substance Abuse Counselors. The demand for this job increases every year as more and more people are becoming dependent on pills and alcohol. Working this job would allow you to have a direct impact on the people you work with and the community you work in.
The national average salary is $36,200, but you can help people overcome huge obstacles and regain their lives.
7. Mental Health Counselor
These mental health jobs are growing like crazy. This position will grow 36% by 2020 and there is a need right now for more Mental Health Counselors than ever before. A great thing about this job is that insurance companies will love you because you are less expensive than a Psychiatrist or Psychologist, but you have at least a Master’s Degree and are highly trained.
With this job you will diagnose and treat patients and provide group or individual therapy. You help people with cognitive disorders, mental illness, and other people who need some type of therapy. You can help people cope with difficult life events, physical illness, death of loved ones, and relationship problems or divorce. If things get too heavy, you can refer clients to other Mental Health Specialists for more resources or to help you find and treat their illness.
The national average salary is $39,025, which isn’t too bad, and many MHCs can make upwards of $70,000.
6. Marital and Family Therapist
Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are mental health professionals trained in psychotherapy and family systems. MFTs diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders within family systems, relationships and marriages.
MFTs are experienced practitioners, many of whom have over 13 years of clinical practice in the field of marriage and family therapy. They evaluate and treat mental and emotional disorders, other health and behavioral problems, and address many relationship issues within the family system.
To be a MFT you need a Master’s Degree and a lot of time because you must gain experience and get specific education in this area. This job pays on average $46,670, so you must really like to help families and marriages, as you will spend a lot of time and money becoming a certified MFT.
5. Clinical Social Worker
A Clinical Social Worker is a specialty-practice social worker who focuses on the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illness, emotional, and other behavioral disturbances. These professionals give individual, group, and family therapy and mainly work in private practice clinics, hospitals, and healthcare agencies.
Clinical Social Workers usually have a Master’s Degree in Social Work and offer support to many cases at once. Their treatment pathways usually include psychotherapy, counseling, therapy and other techniques.
As a Clinical Social Worker you can expect to make an average salary of $62,497. This is a high paying counseling position and will allow you variety and autonomy in your career.
Psychologists can specialize in many fields and work in various locations like schools, clinics, or private practice. Some of the fields a Psychologist can specialize in are the following: Child psychology, Clinical Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Counseling Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Educational Psychology, Social Psychology, Geropsychology, among many others.
Psychologists need advanced levels of education (Ph.D.) and must take courses specific to their focus area. Psychologists are not medical doctors (M.D.s) and, therefore, cannot prescribe medications. They are professionals who help people with therapy and counseling, instead of pills.
The Salaries of Psychologist are great with a national average of $72,568, but you can own your practice and make substantially more, or get paid more by specializing in a field and becoming an expert.
3. Nurse Psychotherapists
This mental health job is a Registered Nurse with advanced level education and training in Mental Health Nursing. They must get their Master’s Degree in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing along with a supervised clinical rotation in Psychotherapy. You don’t have to be a Nurse Practitioner to do this, and upon graduation, you will be an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN).
As a Nurse Psychotherapist you get to diagnose and prescribe medication, like a PNP or Psychiatrist. Part of your duties do include therapy sessions and counseling. This job is almost identical to PNP position, the only difference being you’re not a Nurse Practitioner.
The national average salary for a Nurse Psychotherapist is $95,000, which is a great salary for anyone in the healthcare field.
2. Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
These mental-health professionals are Registered Nurse Practitioners who have a Graduate Degree and specific training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders.
Mental Health Nurse Practitioners, also called Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners (PNPs), do much of the same tasks of Psychiatrists like diagnose and prescribe medication, however, PNPs also include therapy in their sessions. They counsel patients with depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, or other people with conditions that can be helped through counseling.
You can make upwards of $90,376 with this profession and you can own your own practice, since being a Nurse Practitioner allows you that freedom. There are credentialing requirements and continuing education credits you must meet to practice and stay in the field.
This is one of the best mental health jobs because you have vast potential and great pay. Psychiatrists are Medical Doctors (M.D.s) that can diagnose and treat a wide arrange of mental and emotional illnesses in children and adults. Psychiatrists prescribe medication as treatment, but do not offer therapy as a part of their services. Psychiatrists are more like physicians for the brain since they come in to check you out, determine your issues, decide the best course of treatment, and prescribe you medication.
A good Psychiatrist can make $204,893 on average, and have the added benefits of being able to own their own practices and work set hours. If you become a specialized Psychiatrist, you can make more money and conduct research to make and change policies.