Hi, everyone! I really want to be either a substance abuse counselor or a marriage & family counselor. I have a four year Bachelors degree in Psychology, and have been currently working on my M.A. in Mental Health Counseling. I will be finished with my M.A. after another year, and then I'm planning on getting licensed. But I would just like some advice and insight from fellow therapists and psychologists. Do you enjoy your work? What kind of benefits do you have? The only thing that I'm a bit worried about is that I know they don't make much money. I wanted to make at least 40,000 dollars a year but I did an Internet search on salaries and I'd only make like 30,000 a year. With someone who likes to go shopping like me, I'm just not sure......I feel kind of iffy about the salary. I'm obviously not expecting to be rich but I would like to make enough money to own a nice apartment, and maybe support a child in the future. That's the only thing that I wouldn't like about the job, is the salary. I just feel like I went to school to get a Bachelors and went through more school to get my M.A. (almost done with it) and that in the future I should be making more? But I'm not sure. Any help, or advice is appreciated!
Well, first there is a big difference between a substance abuse counselor (CDAC) and a licensed masters level therapist. If you are going to do a private clinical practice you have to be licensed, and you either have to have self pay clients or clients who use their insurance. This means you have to join panels with managed care companies, many of whom are closed unless a person has a specialty that is unique. Additionally, you have to be post license for 2 years to be considered for managed care panel status. Also, the average US managed care rate for masters level is about $51 per session. This may sound like lot, but do the math, if you saw 40 people per week, which is A LOT (because you have an additional 10 hours of paperwork, calls, coordinating care with other clinical people), take out taxes, pay for your office, malpractice, do the math, it is not a ton. And you cannot count on making more year over year because the rates are not going to go up. You can try to generate a cash pay clientele, but it will take time and aggressive self marketing.
Your other option is a staff position somewhere, salaries for a county/state job probably start at 45K and high end at 90K, but the top end is someone who has been in the job a long long time.
If you just do the CDAC you will most likely work in a substance abuse facility. It really depends what you want to do, there are a lot of different paths in the field so start thinking where you want to go...Good luck
Though I'm not a counselor, I am in the Mental Health industry. Believe me, staff doesn't make a lot. People do this because they love it, not for the money. A lot of my staff members have private practices in addition to their work.
I'm not sure if you have done your clinical hours yet, but it takes awhile to get those hours completed prior to getting your license.
I do know that in the state of California, this industry is struggling financially because of state budget.
I know three people who are licensed therapists. One has worked for non-profit companies trying to save the world and the companies she works for are forever going out of business so she is left with no job and usually hardly any benefits when she has a job. She loves her work and really tries to help the people but company wise it seems so unstable. Another person I know has been out of work for over a year. She worked for the local mental health organization but got laid off and can't find another job. Both refuse to go into private practice. The last person works in a medical office (perhaps somehow shares expenses) and seems to be doing great but also has the reputation of being a good therapist which seems to be hard to find these days.
I think it is a hard field to be in because yo hear about people's problems all day long and even when you are trying to help them it does get to you. My one distant friend who works non-profit gets so upset with fighting the system to get help for her patients.
in addition to my psychology work, if i get a medical associate's degree in Healthcare Administration and I pass the board certification exam, would that qualify me to become a psychiatrist? I'm already almost done with my counseling masters......I don't want to go back and get a four year medical degree. I don't think there's any other way to become a psychiatrist though. Hmmm....I'm not entirely sure. I've always been a bit confused on this topic, because it seems like psychiatrists are the only people who should be able to prescribe medicine to their patients, but I know that nowadays, some psychologists have the ability to do so as well.
Psychiatrist is a MD specialized in psychology, its different. Most clinical psychologists trained in pharmaceutical section as well, though they must complete a degree Doctor of clinical psychology to be licensed.
Not a job to be rich, most people do it be cos they love helping and making a difference in people's lives.