Originally posted June 2009; updated August 2014.The most common question I hear these days from marriage and family therapists (MFTs) is simple: “Where can I find a job as an MFT?”
The more pessimistic ones ask the same question, they just leave out the word “Where.”
Even in the current economy, where budget constraints are pinching many public agencies, there are still literally thousands of jobs available, right now, for MFTs around the country. Here are some places to start finding them.
Professional associations. AAMFT and CAMFT (a California-based association independent of AAMFT) each have their own job-finder database. As of today (August 29, 2014), AAMFT’s database lists 176 openings around the country — admittedly not a great number, but better than none. CAMFT’s database lists a few dozen clinical jobs, but gets bonus points for a great directory of additional county- and hospital-based employment databases that MFTs will find useful. Both associations also offer events geared toward networking, and many job offers come out of the connections made at those events. They’re worth attending.
Federal programs. USAjobs.gov is the best place to start looking for federally-funded jobs for MFTs. The trick here is to search wisely. Entering the keyword “family therapist” brings back 110 openings. However, broadening that to “mental health” leads to 1,594 jobs, many of which MFTs are well-qualified for. It can also be worth your time to search any related terms you can think of; additional jobs may bubble up.
Bigger job-search sites. The usual suspects are not great help, but you may luck out. Searching specifically for “marriage and family counselor” (a suggested search term) returned just three results on Monster.com. CareerBuilder.com was a bit better, turning up about 150 jobs under the term “family therapist.” Again, you will find many jobs for which MFTs qualify if you search under broader counseling-related terms. Also, on the plus side, these sites are frequently updated and older posts are quickly removed, so their offerings are always fairly fresh.
County and state agencies. There is great variety in what you will find online, based on where you live. But where they exist, county and state agency sites are often the best places to go. Check out the web site for your county and state Department of Mental Health (smaller counties or states may use different names).
Larger nonprofit organizations. Many nonprofits, particularly those that contract with counties to provide mental health services, don’t post jobs beyond their own sites these days because they don’t need to. Ask friends and colleagues who the big players are in your county, and start at their site. Case in point: San Diego’s Community Research Foundation, which posted eight openings for clinicians in just one day yesterday. (Full disclosure: I did an internship at a CRF program several years ago.)
Large health care organizations. I regularly present at AAMFT-California’s Employment Options for MFTs events, and typically on the panel with me is Karen Blum, a recruiter with MHN Government Services. They hire hundreds of MFTs each year, for positions serving military servicemen and women and their families around the world. They have several programs that may be worth a look.
Old-fashioned networking. Personal connections remain the best way to get an interview. If you’re looking, take business cards and resumes with you to every CE event or other professional gathering you attend, and make a point of introducing yourself around. Even those who are not hiring now may be hiring at some point in the future, so it’s always to your benefit to build strong professional relationships.
# # #If there are other good resources for MFTs I’ve left out, please feel free to share them! You can post your thoughts and useful resources in the comments below, by email to ben[at]bencaldwell[dot]com, or on my Twitter feed.