Last reviewed March 16, 2023 by PSY Staff

Marriage and Family Counseling Degrees

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Start a Rewarding Career Supporting Families

Counseling can be a great tool for couples and families seeking relief from everyday stress, trauma, or issues with bonding. Professional Marriage and Family Counselors work with individuals, family groups, or couples on learning effective communication to help strengthen relationships.

Commonly, they identify underlying issues that may be causing stress within the family and developing plans for mutual understanding. Services provided by these professionals can be helpful for couples or families that are going through difficult stages in their lives, such as adding children, unemployment, infidelity, or any of the other struggles families face. Marriage counselors also work with couples interested in establishing and maintaining a healthy bond for long-term success.

A Marriage and Family Counseling Degree can be a great way to learn successful methods for assessing and advising struggling families. Some professionals in this field choose to pursue a Master's in Counseling with a specialization in Marriage and Family Counseling.

Some students may also choose to pursue a Certificate in Marriage and Family Counseling after receiving a Masters in Counseling and license in their state. Regardless of your route, providing support and helping build strong relationship foundations can be a great way to help families within your community.

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Average Earnings for Marriage and Family Counselors

Family just might be one of the most priceless resources that a person can own. This can make your decision to become a Marriage and Family Counselor even more special to those around you. One of the most frequent questions for upcoming students in these programs is concerned with what this type of career can provide in terms of earnings and stability.

Like many other counseling specializations, the amount of money you make will be different depending on many different factors. Counselors that work in larger cities with a higher demand may have access to better paying careers than those in smaller communities. Also, people with less experience in the field usually do not make as much as those with years of experience.

If you would like to learn more about the earning potential present for Marriage and Family Counselors, you should review what has been provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This information is taken from actual professionals within these career fields. As you gain more experience in your field, you can seek out higher positions or build a client base to increase earning potential.

What Lies Ahead for Marriage and Family Counselors

The BLS estimates that this field could see a 23% growth over the next decade, making it a reliable place to settle into a career.

Marriage and family are personal assets that most people could consider constants within their lives. These types of assets may require constant attention and maintenance so that everyone involve is receiving the right type of positive influence from within. Professionals in Marriage and Family Counseling can be supportive resources for families and couples that are invaluable for progress and positivity.

The need for professionals within this field should continue as long as people are building relationships and seeking advice when working through natural life-related circumstances. These are all natural parts of life, making this field relevant for years to come. As more and more people become more open to seeking out support when in need, the demand for professionals in this field may continue to rise.

What to Expect in Family Counseling

In order to be an effective counselor in this area of expertise, you should have the ability to positively influence those that are seeking your service. This includes providing needed services and supports to couples or families and monitor their progress for needed changes along the way.

The initial appointment with a Marriage and Family Counselor may include gathering information, demographics, and providing a better picture of the family dynamics. Clients may then be asked to detail what struggles are present and what led up to the events that warranted mediation. Using this information, counselors can then develop planning for better communication, understanding, and acceptance between family members being seen. Practice methods can involve working one-on-one with clients or in a group setting.

Most Marriage and Family Counselors work for mental health agencies or have their own practice. These professionals help to ensure that relationships are a positive addition to a person’s personal life. If that is not possible, counselors may also help their clients through ending a bad relationship.

Common Characteristics among Marriage and Family Counselors

What makes a great Marriage and Family Counselor? This question can have many different answers depending on the person you ask. Great features of counselors in this field can be different depending on the setting, people being served, or even the conflict.

An important thing to consider when validating your own characteristics is that you must have the ability to be versatile in your thinking. It is easy to project your own life experience on another family’s situation. However, it is important to not get stuck in one mind-frame and be open to the thoughts and emotions of everyone involved. These abilities can help you make better decisions that are free of bias throughout your career.

Degree Programs Currently Available

If you meet all of the personal recommendations for professionals in this field, you should consider starting your degree journey towards a counseling license. The path to becoming a Marriage and Family Counselor begins with an undergraduate degree. You should choose degree programs that can best train you towards helping others resolve conflict and lead happy and healthy lives.

Degree programs in Marriage and Family Counseling can be found online or in tradition campus settings. Depending on what your needs as a student are, either of these programs could be a great option for you to pursue.

In order to meet the requirements for your professional license, you should be sure to review what type of degrees and accreditation may be expected by your state’s licensing agency prior to making your choice. Our team of educational experts has detailed the available degrees for you to pursue during your path in this incredible field. Read more below to see where to begin and end.

Undergraduate Degrees in Counseling (BA or BS)

Undergraduate degrees that focus on the initial training of counselors can be a great starting point for people interested in helping others with troubled or stressed relationships. At this educational stage, students can expect to learn more about how emotional attachments are created, maintained, and encouraged throughout the lifespan. Most undergraduate programs do not consist of a specialization. Choosing a more specific degree focus is often completed at higher educational stages.

Graduate Degrees in Marriage and Family Counseling

The masters and doctoral levels of counseling degree programs are often where students can settle into a degree specialization that fits their personality and desires. Masters in Marriage and Family Counseling programs can be a great program for you to consider, since it meets all of the minimum requirements for licensure if the program is accredited.

Doctoral (PsyD or PhD) programs can be great additive programs that can set you apart from others trying to obtain the same positions as you. Research degrees such as the Ph.D. in Counseling can help you to find careers in teaching or program development along your way.

Certificate Programs in Marriage and Family Counseling

There can be many options for you to consider when working towards a career in Marriage and Family Counseling. Certificate programs are often 1-2 years in length and can complement Masters or Doctoral programs in Counseling. During a certificate program, students can learn more about their specialty field specifically which can be helpful in obtaining careers within your chosen field.

Licensing Requirements for Marriage and Family Counselors

One important part of pursuing this career field is making all of the right decisions for your license. You cannot practice as a counselor in the U.S. without a license, so you should plan for this prior to ever enrolling in any level of degree. The minimum requirement for licensed counselors in terms of degrees is the Masters in Counseling. From there, you must gain experience, relevant certification, and submit different information to your state’s licensing department in order to be approved. Read more about these steps and what they entail below this paragraph.

Step 1: Obtain a Minimum of a Masters in Counseling

In the U.S., future counselors must obtain a minimum of a Masters in Counseling prior to being considered for a license. There are online and traditional universities located in each state the can provide you with accredited degree programs to satisfy this requirement. As part of this program, you may be required to work in the field during practicum experiences and also take part in group projects on or off campus.

Step 2: Engage in a Supervised Work Experience Requirement

The supervised work experience requirement often takes place after the degree process. This can require you to contact a counseling agency for supervision, which is a requirement of this step. This stage can take around 2 years for most students, although there may be options for students interested in completing this step at a faster or slower rate.

Step 3: Pass the NCE

All of the time spent in your degree program and during your supervised work experience may all be leading up to one moment. In order to receive your counseling certification, you must apply for and complete a national examination in counseling. The National Counselor Exam (NCE) consists of questions and scenarios that can test your abilities in assessing, diagnosing, and treatment mental illnesses.

Step 4: Apply for Licensing in Your State

After your degree, experience, and certification phases, you may be prepared for the licensing process. Most states have varying procedures, but you can expect to provide thorough proof of an accredited degree, experience, and passing test results. Once this is completed, you may be eligible for licensure within your state.

Professional Organizations for Marriage and Family Counselors

Professional organizations can be a great way for current professionals in the field to network with others like them and learn more about their field as a whole. Most counseling positions may require you to engage in continuous learning throughout your career. Licensing in each state also requires continuing education credits each year. This can be another benefit of becoming a member of professional organizations in counseling. You should take a look at some of the most popular counseling organizations below for consideration during your professional experience.

The American Counseling Association

New Marriage and Family Counselors seeking partnership with other professionals or simply a new outlook on the field as a whole can join organizations such as the American Counseling Association. This agency is a leading resource for upcoming events, research studies, and cooperative opportunities for professional counselors.

The American Mental Health Counselors Association

Counseling organizations such as the American Mental Health Counselors Association can allow members to explore their career field from a proactive standpoint. Joining this professional group can allow you to gain more insight into common practices, information about methods used with particular groups of clients, and group activities for professional networking.

The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)

Agencies such as the NBCC can cater to the needs of upcoming professionals interested in high quality degree programs and licensing within their state. Part of the role of the NBCC is to review a student’s qualifications, degree program, and supervised experience to see if that person meets the standards of credentialing.

List of Programs

University Level Program Admissions
Concordia University - Saint Paul
Bachelor Online Bachelor's in Child Development Website
Concordia University - Saint Paul
Bachelor BA in Family Science Website
Concordia University - Saint Paul
Master MA in Family Science Website
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