How to Become A Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage and Family Therapists diagnose and help people deal with issues related to their marriage or family. These licensed professionals enhance understanding and communication among family members. They usually treat people over the course of 15-20 sessions depending on the nature of the problem. Sometimes, these sessions combine family and individual therapy. These therapists work at different hospitals, mental health centers, hospitals, postsecondary institutions and government departments.

Should I Become a Marriage and Family Therapist?

If you like solving problems and have an interest in understanding the human brain, becoming a marriage and family therapist might be the right choice for you. In addition to that, it is a high growth career, with an expected increase of 22% in employment in the years from 2018 to 2028.

Education Required

Master’s Degree

Major Requirement

Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology, Clinical Social Work, Psychiatry or any other related field


Required in all states


2 years supervised clinical experience

Key Skills

Compassion, Organizational kills, Listening skills, Interpersonal skills, Speaking skills

Annual Mean Salary (2018)


Job Outlook (2018-2028)


Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Requirements

Aspiring Marriage and Family Therapists should have a Master’s degree with a minimum of 2 years of experience. They should be licensed in the state of their residence. Marriage and Family Therapists are required to have good communication and listening skills. They need to give full attention to their clients and should help them deal with stress in the best possible way. These therapists work with different people and sometimes, they may have to travel to different locations to administer treatment. The job has a greater outlook than most other jobs and it is expected to have 22% growth in employment in the coming years. As per the US Bureau Labor Statistics, the annual mean salary of a Marriage and Family Therapist was $54,150 in 2018.

How to Become a Marriage and Family Therapist

1.      Get a Bachelor’s Degree

Students should first earn their undergraduate degree to pursue their Master’s in the field of Marriage and Family Therapy. Most graduate schools accept students who have done their major in any related field with a few prerequisite courses like research methods, counselling fundamentals and human development. Students are introduced to some other courses which teaches them certain principles like formation of attitude and opinion, how different personality traits could be identified and how memory works. These principles are taught in Psychology, Sociology and Human Studies.

Some schools require students to complete an internship program as well.

2.      Get a Master’s Degree

Aspiring Marriage and Family Therapists need to have a Master’s degree in a field like Marriage and Family Therapy, psychology or social work. These students should choose a program that is certified by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy as it makes sure that the program coheres with the national standards. The program includes topics like human sexuality, systems theory, research methods and developmental science. It is completed in a span of 2-3 years and includes a research thesis or a practicum.

Some schools offer students to be a part of faculty research teams as well.

3.      Get the Required Experience

Other than a Master’s degree, professionals need to complete 2 years of practical experience in a clinical setting to appear in the licensing exam. They can volunteer at different charitable organizations, non-profitable organizations, private sector, colleges or any other sector which has similar opportunity.

4.      Clear the Licensing Exam

Once these professionals have completed their 2 years of experience, they can appear for the licensing exam. Some states use the Marital and Family Therapy Exam which is administered by Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards, while others have their own exams.

5.      Continue Your Education

Marriage and Family Therapists’ license lasts for 2 years and to get it renewed, professionals need to have enough continuing education credits (CEC). These credits are accumulated through state-approved workshops, online training programs and courses. These points could also be earned through teaching or supervising.

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