Earning a Master's in Family Counseling Online

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Should I Pursue a Master's in Family Counseling Online?

The best online master's degrees in family counseling can lead to a rewarding career. PayScale reports that professionals with these degrees earn $51,000 per year on average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects demand for family counselors to expand 23% in just ten years. This above-average pace helps graduates find stable employment. Some counselors go on to earn doctorates and increase earning as professors or managers. Even without doctoral degrees, graduates can become clinical directors who make an average of $73,825 annually.

Those who are interested in psychology and want to help others may excel in counseling. Successful family counselors have natural empathy and excellent communication skills. Those who can understand body language and resolve conflicts with ease may also fare well. Students interested in this field may benefit from the convenience and lower costs of online learning.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Family Counseling Graduates

Master's in Family Counseling Salary

Several factors influence how much someone can earn with an online master's degree in family counseling. Location and experience levels can help counselors make more per year. For example, the average family counselor in New Jersey earns $20,270 more than the country's mean. Family therapists in the top-paying states of Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, and Arizona make at least $64,000 per year on average. Counselors everywhere earn more as they gain experience. The most experienced therapists earn $70,000 annually on average; however, most therapists start at $40,000.

Top Paying States for Marriage and Family Therapists

State Employment Annual Mean Wage
New Jersey 4,220 $74,130
Colorado 770 $68,200
Hawaii N/A $67,020
Maine N/A $66,360
Arizona 1,510 $64,480
United States 42,880 $53,860

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pay by Experience Level for Family Counselors

  • Entry-Level (0-5 Years):
    $40,000
  • Mid-Career (5-10 Years):
    $46,000
  • Experienced (10-20 Years):
    $48,000
  • Late-Career (20+ Years):
    $73,000

Source: PayScale

Master's in Family Counseling Careers

An online master's degree in family counseling can lead to several career options, all of which help people in need. Many graduates become marriage and family therapists. Counselors with strong conflict resolution skills do well in this specialty. Rehabilitation counselors help patients with physical and mental disabilities learn to live independently. These counselors work in private offices, hospitals, and residential facilities. School and career counselors help children in crisis and design career paths for others.

Marriage and Family Therapists

Annual Median Salary: $48,790
Projected Growth Rate: 23%

These therapists must have master's degrees and the appropriate licenses to practice. They serve as objective, third-party participants in family troubles. Couples and families come to these therapists with issues, and therapists use evidence-based methods to resolve problems. Many family therapists work for themselves.

School and Career Counselors

Annual Median Salary: $55,410
Projected Growth Rate: 13%

School counselors work with kindergarten through high-school students in educational institutions. They help learners develop strong academic, emotional, and social abilities. Career counselors work in high schools, colleges, job skills centers, and nonprofits. Most of these positions require master's degrees.

Rehabilitation Counselors

Annual Median Salary: $34,860
Projected Growth Rate: 13%

Like many mental health professions, rehabilitation counselors typically need master's degrees. They work in hospitals, physical rehabilitation centers, patient homes, and residential treatment centers to help people with disabilities cope with the emotional and social difficulties they face. They also lead group therapy and help patients find necessary resources.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Family Counseling Program?

Each online master's degree program in family counseling has its own curriculum with different electives, requirements, and specialties. However, some core counseling classes are required by most of these curricula. Below are some typical courses found in top online master's degree programs in family counseling.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Family Counseling

  1. Ethics and Legal Considerations in Counseling: Since counselors work with vulnerable patients during difficult times, a stable code of ethics is vital to a therapist's success. Strict laws govern what counselors can do for their patients. These courses cover essential legal and ethical considerations.
  2. Crisis and Trauma Counseling: Counselors of all kinds, including family therapists, encounter patients dealing with acute trauma. Students in these courses learn the theories behind how people react to crises and the techniques counselors use to help. Professors also cover legal and ethical questions related to trauma, such as when counselors must report incidents.
  3. Group Dynamics: These courses help learners understand how people act in groups, both within and outside of counseling settings. Family counselors often work with groups of patients, which makes these skills particularly important. Students learn how to guide different types of groups, such as families or strangers with something in common.
  4. Counseling Children: Students who want to counsel families must learn the unique theories and methods for working with children. Degree candidates learn about play therapy, the developmental stages of childhood, and behavioral issues. Many courses go over the unique legal and ethical concerns of counseling minors.
  5. Practicum/Internship: Every top online master's degree in family counseling requires in-person opportunities. Toward the end of their programs, learners gain supervised, hands-on experience with clients. These hours count toward licensing and certification requirements. Online learners earn these hours near their homes, as long as the school approves the placement.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Family Counseling Prepares For

  • State Licensing or Certification: Family counselors must meet different criteria in every state to gain licenses to practice. Generally, candidates must hold master's degrees from accredited universities, have a specified number of supervised hours, and earn national certification. Online students who take classes from schools in other states should ensure their curricula satisfy their states' requirements.
  • MFT Exam: The Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards issues this national certification exam. Applicants must meet their respective board requirements and apply to take the test. Testers have four hours to answer 200 questions. Candidates who pass earn board recognition that can advance their careers.