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How would a college graduate go about finding a job in clinical psychology?

I'm graduating soon and want to know what first or next steps I can take to get closer to being a marriage and family counselor. clinical-psychology counseling-psychology family-therapy marriage-therapist marriage-counselor marriage-family-counselor

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Daniela’s Answer

Hi Angela!

You must earn a master's degree in marriage and family therapy before you can practice in this field. If you enroll in a graduate program, you will learn about marriage, families, and relationships and how they function and affect mental and emotional disorders. You will have to participate in a supervised practical learning experience, such as an internship, to complete your degree. To be admitted to a program, you need a bachelor's degree, but it does not have to be in any particular area of study.

In addition to a degree, you will also need a license to practice marriage and family therapy.

It requires getting two years of clinical experience under a licensed therapist's supervision and passing a state-recognized exam. To maintain licensure, you will need to complete continuing education courses annually. State regulatory boards issue licenses. See the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards website for a list of state-recognized boards

Quick Facts

  • Marriage and family therapists earned a median annual salary of $48,040 in 2014. Hourly earnings were $23.10.

  • In 2014, slightly fewer than 34,000 people worked in this field.

  • Jobs were in mental health centers, hospitals, colleges and private therapy practices.

  • Most marriage and family therapists work full time and their hours include weekends and evenings.

  • The outlook for this occupation is excellent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies this as a "Bright Outlook" occupation because they predict employment will grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2024.


Family Counselling Centre is a not-for-profit, community-based agency that provides Sarnia-Lambton residents with a variety of professional counselling, support, prevention and coordination services.

Our Vision: Strong and supportive communities comprised of healthy individuals, families and relationships.

Our Mission: To assist, educate and strengthen individuals, families and community through programs, partnerships and resources.

Volunteer with the Family Counselling Centre:

More volunteer opportunities:

Good luck!

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Dr. Ray’s Answer

Dear Angela,

Unfortunately there are very few jobs for people with bachelor's degrees in psychology or counseling. I agree with Daniela that you would need to attend a master's degree program in social work, counseling, marriage and family therapy or a similar field to achieve your goal. These are usually two year programs, but another one to two years of supervised experience is almost always required for licensing. Although my degree is in psychology I should warn you that most states do not allow people with a master's degree in psychology to practice independently. Unless you decide to pursue a Ph.D. I would choose another field.

To answer your question about graduate school, most graduate programs offer specialized training in a particular field, such as counseling, which will enable people to work in that field when they graduate. In the sciences graduate programs are generally for those who want to do research in that field. Overall these programs are much more narrow and career focused than undergraduate degree programs.

I do not know if graduate programs currently offer financial support to their students. It used to be the rule, especially in the sciences, but in the 1980s the federal government began cutting back on its support for higher education and financial aid became much harder to get. The government's current philosophy seems to be that students should pay for a large portion of their college education. However f you major in a science or health care field you may very well be able to get an assistant-ship, in which you do work for the department in exchange for tuition and a small living allowance. The best way to find out would be to look at the financial aid portions of university web sites, and talk to your current professors.

I hope these answers at least get you started on your search. I wish you the best of luck.

Ray Finn, Ph.D