What is the Employment Outlook for Marriage & Family Therapists?

Marriage & Family Therapists are clinicians who are licensed by the state in which they practice to conduct psychotherapy in many different types of family systems. Commonly referred to as MFTs in the field, family therapists are highly experienced practitioners who must not only earn their Master’s degree but who also must complete thousands of hours of supervised clinical hours before they are officially licensed.

Since it takes so long for family therapy practitioners to complete schooling and their practice hours, they often stay in the field until they retire. According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, this is why the average MFT has 13 years of clinical experience. This can have a dramatic effect on what the employment outlook for MFTs is on a national and a local level in the country. Anyone interested in pursuing their Master’s degree should read on to learn more about future outlook predictions made by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

General BLS Projections

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is a government body in charge of surveying the workforce and projecting what the outlook is for specific occupations. There is both a general employment outlook, and then a more detailed profile that highlights where pay, demand, and current employment is highest.

According to the BLS, general employment outlook projections show that the need for MFTs in the United States will grow by an estimated 23 percent nationwide between 2016 and 2026. Based on the current number of therapists that are reported countrywide, it is estimated that around 9700 jobs will be created within that 10-year span. Since outlook for all occupations is expected to grow by only 7%, that is a huge increase.

Considering the Factors That Affect Outlook

Many people who have a passion for mental health and working in clinical settings might be driven towards Marriage and Family Therapy when they see these numbers. Unfortunately, the demand for professionals can be affected by many different factors. Since therapists must have a Master’s degree and over one-thousand intern hours before they are licensed, knowing the factors are crucial before spending the time and the money on school.

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Location and the Supply of MFTs

There is a higher demand for services from Marriage and Family Therapists in some regions of the country as opposed to others. Prospective therapists who are dedicated to the field may be interested in relocating to areas of the US where there’s a high demand for services but a lower supply of graduates and professionals. The supply of graduates and even professionals working in the field tends to be highest in areas where colleges have the best Master’s degree programs.

The best way to determine where current supply is high so demand is conversely low would be by referencing information published b the Occupational Employment Statistics program. Based on available information, the OES has determined that the highest level of employment is currently reported in California, New Jersey, Florida, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. While the employment levels are high here, it can also spark a lot of competition.

Many other factors can affect employment outlook for family therapists. The setting, the practitioner’s level of experience, the type of practice, and more will all come into play. Anyone who is serious about spending more than six years studying to help others with mental health issues in family systems should first determine what the population of Marriage & Family Therapists looks like in their area.