Mental Health

Comparing Your Options

Mental Health
••• Tetra Images / Getty Images

Do you want to pursue a career in mental health? To properly care for or diagnose and treat people who have mental illnesses, emotional difficulties, and behavioral problems it is essential to have excellent , , , , and decision making skills. These will help facilitate your interactions with individuals who are in distress. Here are some mental health careers to consider. All have excellent job outlooks with employment expected to grow at least faster than the average for all occupations between 2016 and 2026.

Clinical and counseling psychologists diagnose and then treat people who have behavioral, emotional, and mental disorders. They also help their clients and patients deal with crises, illnesses, or injuries. To become a psychologist, earn a Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree in . It will take between five to seven years to complete either of these doctorates.

 (2018): $76,990

Number of People Employed (2016): 147,500 (also includes school psychologists)

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 14% (faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 21,000

Marriage and family therapists help couples, families, and individuals overcome or learn how to manage mental illnesses and disorders within the context of their relationships. To work in this occupation, a master's degree in marriage and family therapy is required.

Median Annual Salary (2018): $50,090

Number of People Employed (2016): 41,500

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 23% (much faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 9,700

Clinical social workers diagnose patients' mental, behavioral, or emotional disorders and then provide treatment through individual and group therapy. To , you must get a Master's Degree in Social Work (MSW).

Median Annual Salary (2018): $63,140

Number of People Employed (2016): 682,100 (includes all clinical social workers, as well as those not involved in treatment)

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 16% (much faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 109,700

Psychiatric nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who specialize in psychiatric and mental health work. They care for patients who have mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders. programs, including those that culminate in a bachelor's of science degree, an , or nursing diploma, include psychiatric-mental health education. (. Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow.).

Median Annual Salary (2018): $71,730

Number of People Employed (2016): Almost 3 million

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 15% (much faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 438,100

Like RNs, Nurse practitioners (NPs) can also specialize in psychiatry and mental health. They provide assessments and therapeutic interventions to patients with psychiatric disorders and addictions in outpatient and inpatient settings. After becoming licensed as an RN, you must earn a master's degree or doctorate in nursing practice and get a state-issued NP license.

Median Annual Salary (2018): $107,030

Number of People Employed (2016): 155,500

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 36% (much faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 56,100

Psychiatrists are physicians who specialize in treating psychiatric disorders. To become a psychiatrist, you will first have to complete four years of  after earning a bachelor's degree. Then you will have to do a four-year residency in psychiatry (). To practice, a medical license and certification from The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology or the American Osteopathic Board of Neurology and Psychiatry are required.

Median Annual Salary (2018): Greater than $208,000

Number of People Employed (2016): 27,500

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 11% (faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 3,100

Mental health counselors help people overcome emotional and mental disorders and addictions. You will need to earn a master's degree in mental health counseling or a related field of study, as well as get a state-issued license, to work in this occupation.

Median Annual Salary (2018): $44,630

Number of People Employed (2016): 157,700

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 23% (much faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 36,500

Explore more  

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, , 2017 and , 2018.