Mental Health Specialist

If you want to help people who suffer from mental health disorders, you can specialize in mental health counseling while pursuing your social work degree. It is not uncommon for social workers to work with clients who have mental conditions and/or addictions that need help from a trained professional. Mental health specialists can work in a number of different settings, some of which include hospitals, out-patient clinics, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private practice. You’ll need the right credentials to qualify for employment, starting with a degree from an accredited college or university.

Required Training and Qualifications

As previously noted, you’ll need specific training to work as a mental health specialist and each state has its own requirements to practice. Also, some states might require you to have a master’s degree in addition to specific credentialing in the area of mental health. Accredited programs provide the classes you need to provide prevention and treatment services for families, individuals, and couples.

Salary and Job Outlook Statistic

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, mental health counselors earned a mean annual wage of $43,290 in May 2012. Keep in mind, however, that your salary will vary depending on where you live and the setting in which you work. For example, some states pay mental health counselors more than others, so it’s important to research that data on the BLS website when considering where to practice. If you decide to go into private practice, you can set your own rates, which may earn you more. The job outlook for this position, which is combined with marriage and family therapists, is promising: “Employment of mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists is projected to grow 29 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth is expected in both occupations as more people have mental health counseling services covered by their insurance policies.”

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