How Much Do Counselors Make?
Explore Master’s in Counseling Salary and Job Growth Statistics
If you are considering becoming a counselor, you have a number decisions ahead of you, among them: What program will you choose? Which specialty will you pursue? What type of workplace environment do you prefer?
The answers to these questions will inform your life’s work—and your earning potential—as a counselor. Most individuals pursue a career in counseling because they are compelled to help others through life’s challenges, but counselors have to eat, too. As you consider your options for graduate-level counseling education, you should also review salary outcomes and job growth potential across specialties.
Here, we cover median salary, job growth, and highest-paying industries for some of the most common counseling specialties as well as how to increase your earning potential as a counselor.
How Much Do Counselors Make in Various Specialties?
Mental Health Counselor Salary and Projected Job Growth
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for substance abuse counselors, behavioral disorder counselors and mental health counselors was $44,630 in 2018. Because of an increase in the number of individuals seeking addiction and mental health counseling, jobs in this field are expected to grow 23 percent through 26, which is much faster than average compared to all other occupations.1
The top-paying industries for substance abuse counselors, behavioral disorder counselors and mental health counselors are:2
- Junior colleges: $63,760 annual mean wage
- Insurance carriers: $60,610 annual mean wage
- Agencies, brokerages, and insurance-related activities: $60,060 annual mean wage
- Colleges, universities, and professional schools: $56,270 annual mean wage
- Local government: $56,160 annual mean wage
School Counselor Salary and Projected Job Growth
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median annual salary of $56,310 per year in 2018 for school and career counselors. Employment in this field is expected to grow 23 percent through 2026, which is much faster than average compared to all occupations.3 School enrollment through 2027 is projected to increase 3 percent, driving the need for school counselors.4
The top-paying industries for school, educational, guidance and vocational counselors are:5
- Federal executive branch: $71,690 annual mean wage
- Computer systems design: $70,990 annual mean wage
- Elementary and secondary schools: $66,910 annual mean wage
- General medical and surgical hospitals: $69,170 annual mean wage
- Office administrative services: $65,110 annual mean wage
Marriage and Family Therapist Salary and Projected Job Growth
Marriage and family therapists made $50,090 per year in 2018 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As integrated care becomes more popular, jobs in this field are expected to grow 23 percent through 2026, which is much faster than average compared to all other occupations.6
Top-paying industries for marriage and family therapists include:
- State government: $69,080 annual mean wage
- Religious organizations: $65,790 annual mean wage
- General medical and surgical hospitals: $64,900 annual mean wage
- Employment services: $61,970 annual mean wage
- Local government: $61,100 annual mean wage
Get Creative: How to Increase Your Earning Potential as a Counselor
The above statistics reflect national averages. Salaries can vary greatly depending on your location, the size of the company or organization, years of expertise and the responsibilities of the position, among other factors.
For the greatest level of control over your income, you may want to consider going into private practice. As Anthony Centore, private practice consultant for the American Counseling Association, wrote, “I’ve found that with hard work and good planning, earning an income of $100,000 per year in private practice is an obtainable goal.”7
Take the Next Step in Your Counseling Career
If counseling is your calling, you need a master’s degree to set you on the path toward licensure. William & Mary offers a transformative Online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Counseling with paths in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Military and Veterans Counseling and School Counseling. Explore our curriculum and meet our illustrious faculty.
1. Retrieved on June 18, 2019, from www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-behavioral-disorder-and-mental-health-counselors.htm
2. Retrieved on June 18, 2019, from www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211018.htm
3. Retrieved on June 18, 2019, from www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/school-and-career-counselors.htm M
4. Retrieved on June 18, 2019, from nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=65
5. Retrieved on June 18, 2019, from www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211012.htm
6. Retrieved on June 18, 2019, from www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-behavioral-disorder-and-mental-health-counselors.htm
7. Retrieved on June 18, 2019, from counseling.org/news/aca-blogs/aca-member-blogs/aca-member-blogs/2018/11/26/how-much-money-can-a-counselor-in-private-practice-make