Skip to Content


What you should expect to earn with a Ph.D. in Marriage & Family Therapy

10.22.2015 | By:
Ph.D. Marriage and Family Therapy

There are many factors that influence salary for counselors with a doctorate in marriage and family therapy. Factors like location, amount and type of experience and, of course, your level of education. If you were to search for the average salary of a marriage and family therapist, you would find many answers, varying greatly depending on your state, the type of facility you work in and more.

In general, it’s smart to get your Ph.D. When the United States Department of Labor compared the weekly earnings of professionals, those with advanced degrees earned the most, regardless of gender, ethnicity or race. However, “Advanced degree” doesn’t just mean a Ph.D. Master’s degrees would fall into this category as well. Counselors with their doctorate in marriage and family therapy can expect to make more than counselors with their master’s degrees, but the salary difference isn't drastic. That is why salary should not be the deciding factor as you explore doctorate programs in marriage and family therapy.

Instead, you should consider the options that your Ph.D. will open up for you and the benefits of specialization. Luckily, specializing in marriage and family counseling can be extremely lucrative, with the highest paid 10% earning an average of $70,830. However, when you take a closer look, you will find that earnings vary drastically based on the type of facility therapists work at. The median annual wages of a counselor working for the state government come to $50,770, while the median for those employed by individual and family services is $39,690.

When you see salaries of marriage and family therapists broken down by state, it is extremely clear that location makes all of the difference. In May 2014, the annual mean wage in states like Oregon, Tennessee and Georgia was $34,460 to $40,650, while states like Connecticut, Indiana and Utah reported a mean wage range of $53,510 to $72,300. Texas is in between, with an annual mean range of $41,810 to $47,110.

So, while counselors earn more with a doctorate in marriage and family therapy than they would with a bachelor’s or master’s degree, it isn’t always the level of education that makes the biggest impact.

Instead of focusing on salary, do research and think more about these items:

  • The average salary of a marriage and family therapist in your state
  • The salary requirements of positions you would like to apply for after earning your Ph.D.
  • Whether what you would like to do requires a Ph.D. (Like teaching, research or holding an administrative position)

Getting your doctorate in marriage and family therapy also gives you the tools you need to open your own practice. You could then charge clients an hourly rate and have more control over your earnings.

It is impossible to say how much your salary will increase once you have earned your doctorate in marriage and family therapy, but your degree will help you earn interviews for higher-paying and more competitive positions.