What Are Popular Careers in the Mental Health Field?

Mental health professionals provide services on a wide variety of levels. Despite this fact, these individuals share the goal of helping their clients achieve mental, emotional, and behavioral balance. To learn more about several popular careers in the mental health field, continue reading. Schools offering Mental Health Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

There are a variety of careers you can choose if interested in working in the mental health field. Some of these careers are explored in more detail below.

Important Facts About Careers In the Mental Health Field

Median Salary (2018) $37.99/hour or $79,010 for psychologists
Job Outlook 14%, faster than average
Key Skills Compassion, interpersonal, analytical, trustworthiness, patience, detail-oriented, problem-solving organizational
Work Environment Private/group practices, clinics, hospitals, and community and mental health centers

Source: The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics

Mental Health Counselors

Mental health counselors are licensed professionals who work with individuals and groups to treat various mental and emotional disorders through the application of various therapeutic techniques. They usually hold a minimum of a master's degree and must be licensed through the states in which they practice. State requirements vary; however, most require completion of graduate-level education and a hands-on experiential training period. Aspiring professionals can also earn the Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor certification from the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). Obtaining this credential requires that applicants have master's degrees or the equivalent level of graduate counseling coursework, plus supervised experience in clinical mental health counseling settings (www.nbcc.org).

Counselors have training in specific techniques that they use to help individuals who are suffering from mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and grief. They also work with individuals who are dealing with substance abuse or who have suicidal tendencies. Moreover, many counselors treat individuals who are suffering from mental and emotional stresses that stem from life situations and relationships.


Psychologists are social scientists who use theoretical and experimental research to study the human mind and its processes. Psychologists try to understand and explain thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Most psychologists hold doctoral degrees, as is required by most states to work directly with patients in private practices. Psychologists offering patient care services in private practice must hold state licensure. State requirements vary, but they usually entail a doctorate degree along with extensive experience. In addition, all states require the successful passing of a state licensing examination.

The majority of psychologists work directly with patients to diagnose, treat, and prevent mental disorders. In this role, you may use a wide variety of methods and techniques, such as behavior modification or psychotherapy. Some psychologists work with specific groups of people such as the elderly, children, or entire families. Additionally, they can earn optional certification through the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). Certification is available in specialty areas, and the ABPP offers an early-entry program that allows candidates to begin the certification process before earning their licenses (www.abpp.org).


Psychiatrists are specialized medical doctors who work with patients to diagnose, treat and prevent mental health disorders through the use of a wide variety of methods. In order to become a psychiatrist, you must graduate from medical school. Medical school and training, including formal education, internship and residency, usually takes 7-12 years to complete, depending on specialization. All states also require physicians to be licensed through state medical boards.

Psychiatrists use many of the same methods that a psychologist employs. These include psychotherapy as well as medical techniques that correct the chemical imbalances that may underlie mental health disorders. Psychiatrists also have the authority to recommend hospitalization for patients. Board certification in psychiatry is available through the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), which is the entity in charge of certification in all medical specialties. Through the ABMS, applicants can earn sub-specialty certifications in such areas as geriatric psychiatry, addiction psychiatry, and forensic psychiatry (www.abms.org).

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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