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What's the Average Salary for a Marriage and Family Therapist?


Considering a career in marriage and family therapy? Wondering how much does marriage and family therapist make? This noble profession not only provides a stimulating and rewarding work environment, but also offers licensed therapists a highly competitive salary. If you are looking to become a marriage and family therapist, this post is for you.

Of course, you can’t become a marriage and family therapist overnight. Pursuing a career in the field requires education, training, and hard work. The good news—you can start your MFT journey now by enrolling in an MA or Ph.D. degree track. 

Below you’ll find:

  • Marriage and Family Therapy: Your Career Path
  • What Determines a Marriage and Family Therapist Salary?
  • Average Salaries for Marriage and Family Therapists

To learn more about our Marriage and family therapy programs, click here. 

Marriage and Family Therapy: Your Career Path

Marriage and family therapy focuses on assisting individuals, couples, and families through difficult times. To become an MFT, you must be a licensed mental health professional trained in both family systems and psychotherapy. 

When pursuing an education in this field, prospective MFTs focus on several aspects of mental health care:

  • Diagnosis and treatment of emotional and mental disorders
  • Behavioral therapy and overall health
  • Relationships and family studies
  • Holistic outlooks on health and wellness
  • Psychology and psychiatry
  • Social work 

While all MFTs will go through similar base preparation, it is common for an individual to select a specific area of focus. The most common types of MFT are as follows:

  • Relationship or Marriage Therapist
  • Family Therapist
  • Behavioral Therapist
  • Substance Abuse Therapist
  • Social Worker

Note: There is no requirement to focus on a specific area of study. Many MFTs work across focus areas and have a wide range of clients. 

Requirements for an MFT Career

At minimum, most MFTs must have completed a master’s degree and two years of supervised clinical work to acquire a license, although some social workers only require a bachelor’s degree. 

Once you have completed the formational requirements, MFTs have the option of pursuing several different career pathways:

  • Work for the state or local government as a social worker
  • Open a private marriage and family therapy practice
  • Choose to work for a larger practice
  • Work at an outpatient care facility, such as a substance abuse rehabilitation center

Your expected salary will vary depending on which career pathway you choose and your educational background. 

If you’re looking to pursue a career in Marriage and Family Therapy, browse our areas of study to see which program is right for you. 

What Determines Marriage and Family Therapist Salaries?

There are several factors that determine what your expected salary will be as an MFT. Some of the most important factors include:

  • Whether you decide to work for a public or private institution
  • Your education level (BA, MA, or PhD)
  • Where you live
  • The types of patients you serve

Average annual salaries are easy to pinpoint through public data, although it is important to note that there will be a much higher degree of variation between salaries in the private sector than in the public sector. 

Average Salaries for Marriage and Family Therapists

The average marriage and family therapist salary in the United States was approximately $50,000 per year in 2018. However, those with a PhD or enhanced experience can expect to make around $85,000 per year. 

As a whole, salaries ranged from $40,000 – $110,000 a year. 

The expected average salary for an MFT also varies by focus area:

  • State Government Therapists – $67,000
  • Local Government Therapists – $55,000
  • Private Offices – $54,000
  • Outpatient Care – $49,000
  • Individual and Family Private Practice – $46,000 (but varies greatly depending on client base and location)

Many MFTs make upwards of $100,000 by the end of their career in the sector. Again, this is determined by level of education and the types of clients you choose to work with. 

Your location also has a major effect on what you can expect to make as an MFT. Because the cost of living varies by location, MFTs in certain parts of the country will see higher average salaries. 

Most notably, MFTs that work in the Northeast US and California retain higher annual salaries than the rest of the population. You can access detailed data by region through the US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Start Your Marriage and Family Therapy Journey

Alliant International University offers unrivaled postgraduate degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy through the California School of Professional Psychology. 

Choose from the MA or PsyD program and get started on your career as an MFT either on-campus at several locations across California or online from wherever you are. These fully accredited programs offer students the highest level of MFT training, preparing you for a successful career in marriage and family therapy across focus areas. 

Begin your new MFT career journey now with Alliant International University.



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