According to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 552,000 mental health professionals practicing in the U.S. today whose main focus is the treatment (and/or diagnosis) of mental health or substance abuse concerns. These are the labor statistics for mental health professionals in the U.S. The data come from the most recently published reports, usually from the 2007 to 2010 timeframe.

Psychologists make up the largest profession of mental health professionals who actually diagnose and treat mental health concerns. About 34 percent of psychologists are self-employed, mainly as private practitioners and independent consultants.

Job opportunities for a psychologist should be the best for those with a doctoral degree in a sub-field, such as health, neuro- or forensic psychology; those with a master’s degree will have good prospects in industrial-organization; bachelor’s degree holders will have limited prospects.

Here is the breakdown for 2011:

  • Clinical and counseling psychologists – 152,000
  • Mental health and substance abuse social workers – 138,700
  • Mental health counselors – 113,300
  • Substance abuse counselors – 86,100
  • Psychiatrists – 34,400
  • Marriage and family therapists – 27,300

Psychiatrists make up approximately 5 percent of all 661,400 physicians and surgeons employed in the U.S. in 2008. This is a rate similar to general surgery, OBGYN and anesthesiology.

Educational, vocational and school counselors make up another 275,800 people, while rehabilitation counselors account for 129,500 people.

Social workers, who often work with a family in a mental health capacity, account for over 642,000 jobs in the U.S. About 54 percent of jobs were in healthcare and social assistance industries, and 31 percent work for government. While a bachelor’s degree is necessary for entry-level positions, a master’s degree in social work or a related field is necessary for some positions. There is a lot of conflicting data for how many licensed clinical social workers there are, but best estimates suggest that approximately 60 percent of social workers in the U.S. are licensed (e.g., carry a LCSW or similar credential).

Their breakdown from 2008 looks like:

  • Child, family and school social workers – 292,600
  • Medical and public health social workers – 138,700
  • Mental health and substance abuse social workers – 137,300
  • Social workers, all other – 73,400

Virtually all the mental health professional fields have a positive job outlook in the upcoming decade, especially psychiatrists. Professionals who specialize in a specific area of mental health usually have better job prospects than those who are generalists.