It’s a rewarding career in many ways – but does the potential for financial gain outweigh the other advantages? Your line of work has a significant impact on this. Marital and family therapists earn a median wage above the national average for all occupations, but this amount varies by industry, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Other factors that influence a marriage and family therapist’s earning potential include location and education level.
MFTs make the most money in the following industries:
Therapists who specialize in treating families, couples, and even individuals as a whole are known as marriage and family therapists (MFTs). Therapy is approached from a family perspective that emphasizes the importance of healthy relationships and their impact on mental health issues and the ability to cope with stressful life events, according to BLS. The BLS reported that the median annual salary for MFTs is $50,090. For the 10 percent of marriage and family therapists making more than $82,240, the average salary is $31,850.
MFTs can expect to earn the most money if they work for state government agencies. A median salary of $69,900 can be expected in this field, which employs 13% of all marriage and family therapists. Outpatient care centers are the second-highest-paying industry, with a median wage of just over $50,000. The median salary in this industry is $51,270, which accounts for 15% of all MFT jobs. The median yearly salary for the 14% of marriage and family therapists employed by healthcare providers is $49,190. Individual and family services, which employs the most MFTs, also pays the least. For the 28 percent of marriage and family therapists who work in this field, the median salary is $44,760.
According to the BLS, another 8% of marriage and family therapists work for themselves as independent contractors. Private practice MFTs tend to earn more than those in other industries despite BLS not collecting salary data for self-employed workers.
The Best and Worst Places to Work as an MFT
When it comes to a career as a marriage and family therapist, you might not consider your geographic location to be an important factor in your earnings potential. Pay rates, on the other hand, can vary greatly. There is a huge disparity in pay between MFTs working in high-paying and low-paying areas of the United States.
According to the BLS, marriage and family therapists earn an average yearly salary of $74,130 in New Jersey. To put it another way, there is an average salary difference of $6,200 between marriage and family therapists in Colorado and their counterparts in New Jersey. With an average wage of $66,020 in Hawaii, Maine comes in second with a mean wage of $66,360 and Arizona is in third place with a mean wage of $64,480.
Nearly a dozen states, on the other hand, have median annual salaries of $45,000 or less. It’s hard to beat Montana’s $34,050 median salary for marriage and family therapists, but Tennessee isn’t far behind with $34,090. Average annual wages for mental health therapists (MFTs) range from $38,700 to $39,920 in Mississippi, and from $37,340 to $37,340 in Kentucky.
Marriage and family therapists in South Dakota make an average salary of $40,080, followed by New Hampshire, where the average salary is $41,720. Average wages for this position are $42,900 in West Virginia. The average salary for MFTs in Kansas is $44,020, while the average salary for MFTs in Indiana is $44,920.
Texas, the final state for which the BLS has data, has a median salary for marriage and family therapists of $45,160. This places them in the lowest pay bracket.
Doctoral degrees and MFT earnings are a match made in heaven
Earning a graduate degree is a common way to raise your earning potential. License to practice as an MFT already requires a graduate degree. Continuing your education after completing a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy may necessitate obtaining a Ph.D. No matter how much your earning potential rises, there’s no guarantee that it will or that it will be significant enough to outweigh the costs and time required to earn a doctoral degree in MFT.
Consider whether pursuing a doctorate will help you achieve your career objectives. Doctoral degrees in marriage and family therapy may be beneficial if you want to conduct research into therapeutic practices, but if you want to continue working with couples and families, it may not have much impact on your practice or your income.
Most MFTs enter this field because they enjoy working with and helping people and want to do the rewarding work of helping to mend troubled family relationships, despite the fact that this field has significant earning potential.