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Marriage and Family Therapist Careers

Marriage and Family Therapist Careers Information

Marriage and family therapists work not only to help prevent marriages from ending in divorce, but also to make so-so family relationships into strong ones. Using their years of training and clinical experience, they listen to/talk with individuals, couples, or entire families to help them overcome the hurdles that may be preventing their having a healthy relationship. They must help family members change unproductive behaviors so they live better in their environment and, most importantly, with each other.

Marriage and Family Therapist Careers & Degrees

All this makes marriage and family therapists quite unlike traditional therapists who help individuals work through their own internal psychology. Of course, marriage and family therapists have to work hard to be objective and not take sides, especially when familial arguments can become quite acrimonious. Being literally in the middle of arguments all the time can be very stressful and so marriage and family therapists need to be good at working through the stress. But for people who are highly empathetic and sincerely enjoy helping others to enjoy their own lives, becoming a marriage and family therapist can be a highly rewarding career.

Marriage and Family Therapist Careers Path

Most marriage and family therapists earn a Master’s degree in counseling with the specialization of marriage and family therapy. They take courses in counseling techniques, human growth and development, and professional ethics, just to name a few. Furthermore, all states require marriage and family therapists to be licensed. This often requires a certain number of graduate hours earned, over 2 years or 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience, a passing score on an exam, and continuing education credits throughout the career.

Marriage and Family Therapist Careers: Compatible Personality Traits

Excellent communicator, highly empathetic, strong desire to help others, objective, non-judgmental, problem-solver, good listener, able to remain relaxed in stressful situations, patient, trustworthy.

Marriage and Family Therapist Interview

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Marriage and Family Therapist Careers: Salary Expectations

The average salary for a marriage and family therapist is $44,590 a year, with the middle fifty percent earning between $34,840 and $56,320. Earnings may be further broken down by employment industry:

  • State government – $50,770
  • Local government – $48,220
  • Outpatient care centers – $46,830
  • Offices of other health practitioners – $41,220
  • Individual and family services – $39,690

Those marriage and family therapists who are self-employed and have an established practice with a solid client base usually earn the most. Those who work in a group practice also tend to do well. In either case, it is the counselors with the most experience and positive client feedback who can charge more and therefore earn more money.

Marriage and Family Therapist Careers: Job Outlook

Jobs for marriage and family therapists are expected to grow faster than average for all careers in the coming years. This is due in large part to people’s increasing willingness to discuss their marriage or family issues with a third party and the growing acceptance of counseling. Many such counselors just starting out may have to inherit the clients of retiring counselors or start with only a few couples or family members. But those marriage and family therapists with strong people skills who earn positive reviews from their clients will be able to build up a strong client base and gradually earn more money.

Slightly off the Footpath
Guidance Counselor
Human Resources

Social Worker

Probation Officer

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Psychologists, on the Internet at (visited November 1, 2011).