Psychiatric Rehabilitation Jobs: Salary and Career Facts

Find out about three types of jobs you could pursue in psychiatric rehabilitation. Read on to learn more about career options, along with salary and job outlook information. Schools offering Rehabilitation Sciences degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Careers Are Available in Psychiatric Rehabilitation?

Psychiatric rehabilitation involves the process of reestablishing personal and social functionality in the life of an individual who has been diagnosed with a mental illness. Often shortened to 'rehab,' this program of restoration generally involves a range of healthcare professionals and a system that entails, depending on the situation, the use of psychotherapy and medication. Some professionals involved in the process include psychiatrists, social workers and mental health counselors.

Psychiatrists diagnose and treat mental illnesses not only through counseling, but also through medication. Social workers diagnose various behavioral issues as well, but also help their clients cope with a variety of issues in their everyday lives. Mental health counselors are also able to diagnose mental disorders and may provide counseling services not only to individuals, but couples, families or other groups as well. The table below outlines the general requirements for these three career options.

PsychiatristSocial Worker Mental Health Counselor
Degree Required Medical school (M.D. or D.O.) Bachelor's degree, Master's degree preferred Master's degree
Education Field of Study Medicine, Psychiatry Social Work, Psychology, Sociology Psychology, Counseling, Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy
Training Required Residency program Supervised training Supervised training
Licensure Required Required Required for Clinical Social Workers Required
Job Growth (2014-2024) 15%* 12%* 20%*
Median Salary (2015) $245,673* $45,900* $41,880*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Sort of Work Can I Do in Psychiatric Rehabilitation?

Psychiatric rehabilitation involves the process of reestablishing personal and social functionality in the life of an individual who has been diagnosed with a mental illness. Often shortened to 'rehab,' this program of restoration generally involves a range of healthcare professionals and a system that entails, depending on the situation, the use of psychotherapy and medication.

Psychiatrists are responsible for guiding the treatment of patients suffering from mental illness. In such a position, your responsibilities would include analyzing, assessing and providing a program of therapy for patients. This could be in the form of psychotherapy sessions or a course of medication.

In addition, social workers may play a vital role in the rehabilitation process. As a social worker, you would intervene in the lives of individuals and families to provide necessary social services from the state. You might investigate a case and recommend the appropriate course of action, such as admission to a psychiatric facility for rehabilitation.

As an alternative to psychiatrists, many counselors and therapists work in the field of rehabilitation. If you choose to become a professional in this field, you generally need to have advanced credentials and provide therapy, with the caveat that you may not prescribe medication. Counselors and therapists make up a large constituency of mental healthcare workers.

What Kind of Education Do I Need For These Jobs?

Psychiatrists are licensed physicians who specialize in psychiatric medicine. If you are interested in a career in this field, you should begin by pursuing a 4-year bachelor's degree and then enrolling in medical school. Med school is demanding - admissions are highly selective and the curriculum is challenging. Your coursework will include significant time spent in laboratory and clinical settings. After receiving your Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree, you will need to participate in a 4-year residency program in psychiatric medicine.

If you are interested in social work, the path to a career in this field begins with a 4-year bachelor's degree. Most major universities have programs in social work. Your studies will include subjects like sociology, psychology and public policy. In addition, many programs demand that you undergo a practicum that entails real-world experience in social services offices. It is not uncommon for social workers to pursue advanced credentials as well.

Most counselors and therapists in rehabilitation clinics possess advanced credentials. You should begin working toward this career with a bachelor's degree in a relevant field such as psychology. Many universities offer 2- to 3-year master's degree programs in psychology or counseling. As an added prerequisite to working in this field, you will need to be licensed, a process that varies from state to state.

What Kind of Salary Can I Expect in These Positions?

Compensation varies in this field. In 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual income of psychiatrists was $245,673. The BLS also reported in 2015 that the median annual income for social workers in general was $45,900, while median annual wages for mental health counselors came to $41,880.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Some other related counseling positions that require a master's degree include rehabilitation, school and career counseling. Rehabilitation counselors focus on helping disabled people develop the skills and abilities to overcome or manage their disability so they can work or live alone. School counselors work with students to teach them the organizational, learning and social skills they need to do well in school. They may work in elementary, middle or high schools. Career counselors typically work in high schools, universities or adult education centers. They help educate students on potential careers and what academic requirements they need to meet.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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