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Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage and Family Therapy Providers


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What's Needed:

  • A master's degree in counseling or marriage and family therapy is usually required.
  • A bachelor's degree in most fields is acceptable to enroll in a master's degree program.
  • Many schools provide master's and doctoral degrees in marriage and family therapy. Many of these programs include field experiences and residencies.

Master's degrees in marriage and family therapy are available online. Prospective students should find out if the online program includes field experiences and residencies. Online doctoral degrees in marriage and family therapy are also available.

What you study:

  • Counseling theory and practice
  • Research and evaluation in psychology
  • Family therapy theories
  • Adolescent psychology
  • Group therapy
  • Clinical applications of human development
  • Human growth and development
  • Marriage and family systems

What courses you'll take

Below are examples of courses that you'll likely take as a marriage and family therapy student.

Course Studies Purpose
Marriage/Family Systems Fundamentals Applies concept of marital and family lifecycles to consider the family as an interactive and changing system. Presents historical perspectives, touching upon well-known models in the profession developed by Haley, Satir, Bowen, and others. Topics include: application of systems theory to therapeutic interventions; communication frameworks; and traditional and non-traditional family structures. Provide foundational knowledge and concepts for use in further, advanced studies.
Theories of Marriage and Family Therapy A review of major theories in use, including: psychodynamic; structural; strategic; experiential, and post modern. Theories are presented in the context of a systems dynamics framework. Other topics can include: verbal and nonverbal treatment techniques; family rules; interaction patterns; functional and dysfunctional families; and ethnicity considerations. Teach the underlying theories that guide the creation of therapeutic treatments for specific patients.
Couple/Marital Therapy Emphasizes basic skills for treating two people in a coupled relationship, particularly in the early stages of their problems. Coursework covers: diagnosis; intervention; influences from each individual's family; roles of emotion between the couple; special issues such as interracial or same-gender relationships; extramarital affairs; sexual dysfunction; alcoholism; and ethics. Prepare students with the skills for treating couples.
Family Therapy Focuses on building of skills for diagnosis and treatment of problems within a family system. Family problems reviewed include: suicide; child abuse; substance abuse; domestic violence; divorce; and incest. Ready students with a set of skills for treating a diverse range of family problems.
Legal and Ethical Issues Surveys the most common ethical and legal considerations family and marital therapists. Topics covered include: ethical standards; legal standards; risks; and professional credentialing. Ready students to consider and address the legal and ethical issues they will face as full-time professionals.
Research in Marriage and Family Therapy Reviews foundations of research in the field, including: methodologies; design; statistics; data analysis; ethics; quantitative vs. qualitative research; and cultural factors as related to research practices. Teach students how to understand, critique, and apply published research in the profession. Also prepare students to carry out their own research projects.
Practicum Applies marital and family theories and techniques studied in the classroom to supervised application in the field, typically at community mental health cnter or community agency. Sites are chosen to expose students to as much patient diversity as possible, such as racial, cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic. Give reality to classroom studies and give students the practice needed to prepare them for full-time positions as therapists.

Video Overview

A brief introduction to marriage and family therapy careers. Produced for the US Dept. of Labor.


Certifications and Licensing

Marriage and family therapist educational requirements vary depending on state licensure and certification requirements. Typically, marriage and family therapy providers need a master's degree in marriage and family therapy or in counseling as well as two years or three thousand hours of supervised clinical experience.

Usually, marriage and family therapy providers are required to pass state recognized exams. In some states counselors in public employment are required to have a master's degree, whereas some states require a bachelor's degree with applicable counseling courses.


Job Flexibility

Full-time versus part-time: Marriage and family therapists usually work full-time. To accommodate their clients' schedules they often work weekends and evenings.

Work location: Marriage and family therapists work in health clinics, state government agencies, local government agencies, private practices, outpatient care centers and hospitals. Many marriage and family therapists work in private practice. They usually have their own office.


Recommended Websites

  • The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) focuses on increasing research, understanding and education in the marriage and family therapy field as well as ensure the quality of training of marriage and family therapy providers. The organization's Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education is a recognized accrediting agency providing accreditation for marriage and family therapist academic programs in the United States and Canada. Its directory of Marriage and Family training programs provides a list of accredited programs.
  • The American Counseling Association (ACA) is dedicated to the growth and development of the counseling profession as well as those who are served. The ACA provides students an array of resources to help them prepare for a professional counseling career. The ACA assists students with their personal and professional growth. The American Counseling Association also provides networking opportunities. The ACA Conference & Expo offers a variety of networking and educational offerings. Students who attend the ACA Conference & Expo have opportunities to meet peers, counselor educators, authors and scholars.
  • The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) website provides a state board directory as well as exam, registration and state licensure information. The NBCC administers four national examinations. Three of its exams are utilized for national certification and state counselor licensure.
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook -- Created by the US Department of Labor, this article on marriage and family therapy careers (and mental health counseling) gives a comprehensive summary using statistics and textbook-like descriptions.

Salaries by City

See typical salaries and ranges for this career below*. Shift click to sort by more than one column -- for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.

StateCity / RegionTypical SalarySalary RangeJob Count% of All Jobs
AKAnchorage$43,190$26K - $82K1100.06%
ALBirmingham - Hoover$44,690$34K - $58K1200.03%
ALTuscaloosa$44,640$37K - $56K400.04%
AZPhoenix - Mesa - Glendale$62,620$35K - $89K1500.01%
AZTucson$38,250$31K - $56K1000.03%
CABakersfield - Delano$45,870$37K - $84K500.02%
CAEl Centro$34,940$23K - $46KN/AN/A
CAFresno$61,990$41K - $95K800.03%
CAHanford - Corcoran$51,980$34K - $66K600.15%
CALos Angeles - Long Beach - Glendale (Metro Area)$47,790$32K - $69K2,2800.06%
CAModesto$48,030$41K - $69KN/AN/A
CAOakland - Fremont - Hayward (Metro Area)$56,800$43K - $89K4100.04%
CAOxnard - Thousand Oaks - Ventura$51,570$38K - $69K600.02%
CARiverside - San Bernardino - Ontario$50,310$33K - $75K1200.01%
CASacramento - Arden - Arcade - Roseville$31,230$26K - $60K3300.04%
CASalinas$60,740$36K - $91K1400.09%
CASan Diego - Carlsbad - San Marcos$46,160$38K - $67K3800.03%
CASan Francisco - San Mateo - Redwood City (Metro Area)$56,530$42K - $89K4700.05%
CASan Luis Obispo - Paso Robles$40,510$23K - $57K400.04%
CASanta Ana - Anaheim - Irvine (Metro Area)$53,770$40K - $73K5500.04%
CASanta Barbara - Santa Maria - Goleta$63,470$36K - $126K1400.08%
CASanta Rosa - Petaluma$55,270$23K - $86K1200.07%
CAStockton$53,590$41K - $62KN/AN/A
CAVisalia - Porterville$58,450$38K - $75K500.04%
COBoulder$44,860$35K - $57K400.02%
CODenver - Aurora - Broomfield$30,680$19K - $52K2300.02%
COFort Collins - Loveland$51,420$31K - $81KN/AN/A
CTBridgeport - Stamford - Norwalk$55,330$38K - $80K300.01%
CTHartford - West Hartford - East Hartford$42,810$23K - $82K1000.02%
CTNew Haven$57,160$42K - $85K400.01%
DCWashington - Arlington - Alexandria (Metro Area)$55,150$39K - $83K6600.03%
DEWilmington (Metro Area)$50,730$43K - $72K2200.07%
FLCape Coral - Fort Myers$41,840$33K - $48K800.04%
FLDeltona - Daytona Beach - Ormond Beach$27,750$25K - $31KN/AN/A
FLFort Lauderdale - Pompano Beach - Deerfield Beach (Metro Area)$48,850$28K - $68K4800.07%
FLJacksonville$38,490$30K - $57K1600.03%
FLLakeland - Winter Haven$38,330$27K - $46KN/AN/A
FLMiami - Miami Beach - Kendall (Metro Area)$51,030$27K - $81K4300.04%
FLNorth Port - Bradenton - Sarasota$50,130$33K - $60KN/AN/A
FLOrlando - Kissimmee - Sanford$33,920$26K - $44K1400.01%
FLPensacola - Ferry Pass - Brent$34,510$25K - $44K600.04%
FLTallahassee$36,550$27K - $55K500.03%
FLTampa - St. Petersburg - Clearwater$39,120$31K - $68K2600.02%
FLWest Palm Beach - Boca Raton - Boynton Beach (Metro Area)$46,290$32K - $59K800.02%
GAAtlanta - Sandy Springs - Marietta$54,910$42K - $75KN/AN/A
HIHonolulu$54,110$42K - $103K1100.03%
IADavenport - Moline - Rock Island$38,110$32K - $59K300.02%
IADes Moines - West Des Moines$36,780$26K - $59K900.03%
ILChicago - Joliet - Naperville (Metro Area)$38,910$32K - $55K900.00%
INEvansville$40,410$24K - $51K400.02%
INFort Wayne$45,810$34K - $57KN/AN/A
INGary (Metro Area)$38,570$32K - $57KN/AN/A
INIndianapolis - Carmel$37,270$29K - $123K3800.04%
INTerre Haute$38,110$27K - $47KN/AN/A
KYLouisville - Jefferson County$29,090$18K - $47K900.01%
LANew Orleans - Metairie - Kenner$37,250$32K - $47K300.01%
MABarnstable Town$44,410$32K - $72K800.08%
MABoston - Cambridge - Quincy (Metro Area)$51,560$33K - $73K5500.03%
MANew Bedford$64,640$35K - $74K400.07%
MAPeabody (Metro Area)$48,760$36K - $77KN/AN/A
MASpringfield$49,130$32K - $70KN/AN/A
MDBaltimore - Towson$47,180$37K - $55K7500.06%
MDBethesda - Rockville - Frederick (Metro Area)$42,200$30K - $59K1200.02%
MDHagerstown - Martinsburg$41,630$26K - $55K800.08%
MDSalisbury$41,640$24K - $63K700.14%
MIDetroit - Livonia - Dearborn (Metro Area)$49,200$39K - $60K1300.02%
MIWarren - Troy - Farmington Hills (Metro Area)$44,640$39K - $57K500.00%
MNMinneapolis - St. Paul - Bloomington$44,740$28K - $77K6900.04%
MOKansas City$35,990$32K - $49K800.01%
MOSt. Louis$39,490$30K - $53K1400.01%
NDFargo$47,190$34K - $71K700.05%
NEOmaha - Council Bluffs$36,210$31K - $45K700.01%
NJAtlantic City - Hammonton$68,940$53K - $88KN/AN/A
NJEdison - New Brunswick (Metro Area)$65,340$53K - $88K1,3500.14%
NJNewark - Union (Metro Area)$67,800$56K - $88K1,1300.12%
NJTrenton - Ewing$68,940$48K - $88K3700.17%
NMAlbuquerque$31,350$25K - $46K1300.04%
NVLas Vegas - Paradise$52,030$32K - $70KN/AN/A
NVReno - SparksN/AN/A - N/A500.03%
NYAlbany - Schenectady - Troy$28,270$23K - $37K800.02%
NYBuffalo - Niagara Falls$36,150$29K - $45KN/AN/A
NYNassau - Suffolk (Metro Area)$47,990$40K - $57KN/AN/A
NYNew York - White Plains - Wayne (Metro Area)$57,530$32K - $82K1,5800.03%
NYRochester$36,620$25K - $47KN/AN/A
NYSyracuse$33,420$21K - $46K600.02%
OHCincinnati - Middletown$32,870$19K - $51K700.01%
OHCleveland - Elyria - Mentor$51,840$40K - $62K1500.01%
OHColumbus$39,860$29K - $66K700.01%
OHYoungstown - Warren - Boardman$53,110$35K - $62K600.03%
OKOklahoma City$43,510$30K - $88K1800.03%
OKTulsa$47,710$33K - $71K1100.03%
OREugene - SpringfieldN/AN/A - N/A500.04%
ORPortland - Vancouver - Hillsboro$51,750$31K - $73K5500.05%
PAAllentown - Bethlehem - Easton$60,440$31K - $82K1100.03%
PAErie$40,340$22K - $49K300.03%
PAJohnstown$35,170$26K - $62K400.06%
PALancaster$68,610$29K - $93K500.02%
PAPhiladelphia (Metro Area)$51,640$36K - $84K4900.03%
PAPittsburgh$35,900$23K - $57K1600.01%
PAScranton - Wilkes - Barre$40,350$27K - $59K600.03%
RIProvidence - Fall River - Warwick$59,430$33K - $75KN/AN/A
SDRapid City$37,060$28K - $49K400.06%
TNKingsport - Bristol - Bristol$28,890$25K - $40KN/AN/A
TNKnoxville$34,130$30K - $38KN/AN/A
TNMemphis$31,950$20K - $39K1200.02%
TNNashville - Davidson - Murfreesboro - Franklin$34,780$21K - $51K2200.03%
TXAustin - Round Rock - San Marcos$47,180$31K - $67K1700.02%
TXDallas - Plano - Irving (Metro Area)$39,780$33K - $60KN/AN/A
TXFort Worth - Arlington (Metro Area)$36,200$32K - $47K300.00%
TXHouston - Sugar Land - Baytown$47,240$17K - $60K2000.01%
TXSan Antonio - New Braunfels$43,920$32K - $59KN/AN/A
UTOgden - Clearfield$51,780$35K - $69KN/AN/A
UTProvo - Orem$44,300$33K - $57K400.02%
UTSalt Lake City$52,070$39K - $65K600.01%
UTSt. George$65,680$43K - $174K300.07%
VACharlottesville$30,530$22K - $81K500.05%
VALynchburg$34,890$26K - $68K1400.15%
VARichmond$41,720$20K - $48K4300.07%
VARoanoke$41,800$32K - $60K800.05%
VAVirginia Beach - Norfolk - Newport News$40,570$32K - $49K3000.04%
WASeattle - Bellevue - Everett (Metro Area)$41,620$29K - $59K2600.02%
WASpokane$38,640$30K - $56K800.04%
WATacoma (Metro Area)$43,450$30K - $108K900.04%
WIGreen Bay$45,730$18K - $61K400.02%
WIMadisonN/AN/A - N/A5800.17%
WIMilwaukee - Waukesha - West Allis$45,070$32K - $121K1400.02%
WVHuntington - Ashland$31,490$26K - $59K500.04%