How to Become a Family Counselor

Family Counselor Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $46,220
Avg. Pay / hour $22.22
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 22%

Family Counselors can play an important role in helping families learn how to communicate with one another, strengthen bonds and solve family problems.

Family Counselors can also treat individuals with mental and emotional disorders.

Family Counselors can apply a variety of concepts, practices and methods in order to help families in need.

They apply the same techniques they use when treating individual clients, but instead of focusing on one individual and their internal battles, they focus on the family unit or a marriage and how the people involved interact and communicate with one another.

Some goals that a Family Counselor can help achieve include helping patients change negative behaviors, look into the perceptions or opinions about one another, provide techniques that strengthen communication skills and probably most importantly, help create an understanding of one another.

Some natural skills that may help someone decide to become a Family Counselor include having great communication and interpersonal skills as well as a desire to help people in need.

Education Requirements to Become a Family Counselor

In order for a candidate to become a Family Counselor, they need to get a minimum of a Master’s Degree and get licensed by the state they reside in.

Individual states have different requirements for candidates seeking licensure, but most typically, the minimum education requirement is a Master’s degree or some post graduate work.

An accredited Master’s Degree in Psychology or Counseling typically requires students to take 48 to 60 hours of coursework in order to complete the program.

In addition, some Master’s programs ask for students to gain experience in counseling by participating in a type of residency or internship.

The first step a candidate needs to make in order to become a Family Counselor is to finish a Bachelor’s Degree at an accredited institution.

A student will need to major in Psychology in order to learn information about the mind and how it functions.

While in graduate school, students will have the option to specialize in their field of choice, in this case, Family Counseling.

Candidates will study a variety of psychological concepts and techniques including relationships, human development and growth, ethics, counseling methods and theories on identity.

Candidates will need to research licensure requirements in order to work in the state they wish to work in.

After procuring a job as a Family Counselor, employees need to continually brush up on their skills by attending training classes and workshops.

These classes and workshops are necessary in order for professionals to maintain their licensure or certification.

Family Counselor Job Description

A Family Counselor can perform the same duties as a traditional counselor the only difference being that the family unit is the focus instead of solely one individual.

A Family Counselor will perform interviews in order to pinpoint problems within the family structure or individual mental disorders if applicable.

Family Counselors apply a variety of techniques, principles and family systems theories to treat and deal with mental or emotional disorders affecting a family.

The apply the same techniques in order to help members change their behavior or perception, improve communication with one another, address individual or familial problems or attempt to strengthen bonds by creating understanding amongst each other.

In order to improve familial relationships and communication, a Family Counselor can also provide talk therapy sessions to help improve communication and understanding.

They can also provide one on one therapy sessions with their patients in order to create a more personal environment for an individual.

Family Counselor Salary and Career Path

The job outlook for this profession and other Counselors look healthy and strong through the year 2018.

This sector is expected to grow by 18% throughout that time providing plenty of opportunities for individuals.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job openings are expected to outpace the number of students graduating from a counseling program.

Growth is expected to be even higher in less populated rural areas.

Wages for these professionals depends on the sector and area they settle into.

As a whole, individual and family services as well as rehabilitation centers pay less than positions in schools or hospitals.

The national salary range for counseling professionals in all specialties is $20,000 to $65,000 per year.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
New Hampshire$50,370
New Jersey$81,330
New Mexico$56,070
New York$62,210
North Carolina$46,900
North Dakota$50,980
South Carolina$56,480
South Dakota$45,020
West Virginia$43,550

The top earning state in the field is Utah, where the average salary is $86,490.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Utah - $86,490
New Jersey - $81,330
Colorado - $73,040
Minnesota - $68,660
Nevada - $66,600
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Marriage and Family Therapists, OCC Code 21-1013, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a family counselor?

Family counselors help families solve problems and emotional conflicts through therapy sessions.

They may use a variety of techniques but many of them use mostly behavioral therapy.

Family counselors who have their own private practice need to know how to work with insurance companies and clients to get paid for their services.

Family counselors must also complete and keep confidential files.

As a family counselor you will need to be able to communicate effectively with your patients.

Other important skills include analytical thinking, patience, and compassion.

Family therapists usually work full-time but they may also work during evenings or weekends in order to help patients who need them.

How much does a family counselor make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for marriage and family therapists was $50,090 as of May 2018.

Salaries in this field vary widely, depending on a variety of factors; some therapists earn less than $35,000 a year, while others earn more than $80,000.

How much does it cost to become a family counselor?

Family counselors are required to hold a master’s degree in psychology, family therapy or a related field and a license.

Master’s degree programs in psychology cost, on average, around $30,000.

In order to be accepted for a master’s degree program, you will first have to earn your bachelor’s degree; most fields are acceptable.

Four-year bachelor’s degree programs cost, on average, around $9,000-$10,000 a year for in-state students and more than $20,000 per year for out of state students and those who attend a private college.

What is the demand for family counselors?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for marriage and family therapists is projected to grow 22 percent from 2018 to 2028.

This growth is explained mostly by the fact that more and more people are using integrated care; in providing this type of treatment marriage and family therapists are working with other specialists to treat a variety of problems at the same time.

How long does it take to become a family counselor?

Family counselors need a master’s degree in psychology, family therapy or a related field and a state license.

Before enrolling at a master’s program you will first need a bachelor’s degree, which can usually be obtained in 4 years.

A master’s degree program can usually be completed in 2 years by full-time students.

In order to get your license, you will need a master’s degree, between 2,000 to 4,000 hours of post-degree supervised clinical experience and you will have to pass a state-recognized exam.

During the training period, sometimes also called residency, future family counselors learn how to provide family therapy, group therapy and other therapies under the supervision of an experienced counselor.

After getting their license, family counselors need to complete annual continuing education classes.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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