What is the Job Outlook for Mental Health Professionals Over the Next Few Years?

Are you thinking about becoming a behavioral health professional? The field is experiencing fast career growth, so there’s never been a better time to make the leap. In fact, employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is expected to rise 22% from 2018 to 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

The anticipated job increase for all occupations is 5%, making growth in this field more than four times the national average. If you’re passionate about helping others, now is the time to start working toward your behavioral health career goals.

Here’s a closer look at the projected job growth, standard job duties, work environment, and what you’ll need to do to get hired. 

Job Outlook 

As noted above, job growth for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is expected to be more than four times the national average through 2028. This is partially due to a shift in states seeking treatment for drug offenders, instead of jail time, according to the BLS. Additionally, these professionals will be needed to provide care to military veterans.

Standard Responsibilities 

Generally speaking, professionals working in this field offer support and guidance to patients suffering from addiction and other mental or behavioral health issues. They assess each patient’s individual situation, create a treatment plan, modify negative behaviors, and connect them with services and support groups designed to help them move forward with their lives positively. 

Counselors also often educate family members on their loved ones’ mental health disorders and provide support to help them cope. 

Work Environment 

Behavioral health counseling jobs are available in a wide variety of settings. Here’s a breakdown of the largest employers for this field, according to the BLS:

  • Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers (15%) 
  • Individual and family services (16%) 
  • Hospitals; state, local, and private (10%) 
  • Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities (10%) 
  • Government (9%) 

Jobs in this field are typically full-time, according to the BLS. Depending on the type of employment setting, night, weekend, and holiday work may be required. 

How to Become a Mental Health Professional 

Most jobs in the mental health field require a bachelor’s degree, at minimum. However, to become a substance abuse or behavioral disorder counselor, you’ll likely need a master’s degree. If you want to work in private practice, you’ll also need to be licensed.  

Specific licensing requirements vary by state, but all states require counselors to have a master’s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience, according to the BLS. Additionally, you’ll be required to pass a state-issued exam and complete continuing education courses each year. While this might sound like a lot, if you’re passionate about the work, it will all be worth it. 

If you’ve been unhappy in your current job for a while, you’re probably considering pursuing other opportunities. To learn more about how we can help you find top behavioral health talent, contact us today at (513) 651-9500 or by email at info@psychpros.com. 

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