Career Information Hotline

Toll Free 1-800-661-3753

Edmonton 780-422-4266

Guest Account Sign In Sign Up

Marriage and Family Counsellor

Marriage and family counsellors provide counselling to help families, couples and individuals resolve interpersonal difficulties, develop effective and satisfactory relationships and build meaningful support systems.

  • Avg. Salary $63,500.00
  • Avg. Wage $34.47
  • Minimum Education 6 years post-secondary
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 3,100
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Advisor, Counsellor, Marriage Counsellor

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Marriage and Family Counsellor is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Family, Marriage and Other Related Counsellors
NOC code: 4153

Interest in mentoring in order to counsel clients, and provide therapy and mediation services; and in assisting individuals and groups of clients to identify, understand and overcome personal problems and achieve personal objectives


Interest in co-ordinating information to develop and implement counselling and intervention programs to assist clients in determining goals and the means of attaining them; may conduct research, publish research papers, educational texts and articles


Interest in following up results of counselling programs and clients' adjustments; and in conducting vocational testing and psychometric assessment; may supervise other counsellors, social service staff and assistants

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Dec 15, 2016

Marriage and family counsellors help individuals, couples and families understand and enhance relationships, resolve emotional issues from broken and impaired relationships, and enhance personal well-being. They work collaboratively with clients to enhance client strengths, resources and resilience, and develop clearer relationship goals for the future.

In general, marriage and family counsellors:

  • assess and intervene in relational difficulties
  • identify factors that may be contributing to the couple's or family's problems, such as family violence, stress, addictions, substance abuse or mental health problems
  • ask questions and invite reflection to understand and help facilitate change in the client's thinking and behaviour
  • help clients identify, express and manage feelings and behaviour in a healthy manner
  • help couples and families identify and use their existing skills, resources and abilities
  • assist clients in developing and maintaining healthy communication skills
  • help couples and families identify, confront and resolve their problems in a constructive, affirming manner
  • act as coach and collaborator to develop skills and strategies for dealing with family-related concerns
  • teach and support flexible, consistent and age-appropriate parenting techniques
  • conduct crisis counselling sessions, as required, to help clients deal with suicide, divorce, unemployment, bereavement and other life transitions
  • consult with or refer clients to other professionals when appropriate
  • maintain confidential records of clients' progress.
Working Conditions
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Counsellors generally work in an office environment but also may work in residential, health-care or in-home settings. They may work some evenings or weekends to accomodate client needs or work overtime when clients need immediate help. The work can be stressful, emotionally demanding and challenging.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Marriage and family counsellors need the following characteristics:

  • a genuine interest in people
  • emotional maturity
  • excellent written and oral communication skills
  • sensitivity to ethnic and cultural issues, religious and spiritual beliefs, and sexual orientation and preferences
  • the ability to listen in a non-judgmental manner and demonstrate empathy for the client's situation regardless of the client's background or issues
  • the creative ability required to develop new programs or ways of doing things
  • strong decision making ability
  • ability to keep information confidential.

They should enjoy counselling people, synthesizing information and helping clients find innovative solutions to problems.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Most marriage and family counsellors have at least a master's degree in marriage and family therapy, social work, psychology or a related discipline. A few Canadian universities offer an accredited master's degree in marriage and family therapy. For more information see the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy website.

In general, the entrance requirement for a master's degree program is a competitive grade point average (GPA) in the last 2 years of a related 4-year bachelor's degree program at an accredited school.

4-year social science bachelor's degree programs are offered by post-secondary schools throughout Alberta. Entrance requirements vary depending on the program, but in general, include a competitive average (ranging from 60% to 80%, depending on the school and program) in English Language Arts 30-1 and 4 other approved or specified Grade 12 subjects (30-level courses in social studies, sciences, math or a language other than English).

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 15, 2016

In Alberta, marriage and family counsellors must be registered with a professional college. Depending on the individual's scope of work, required registration may be with the Alberta College of Social Workers or the College of Alberta Psychologists. Both colleges require members to earn continuing education credits to maintain their registration.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Above-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Marriage and family counsellors may work in:

  • health care and rehabilitation clinics and hospitals
  • counselling and family therapy centres
  • government or private social service agencies
  • addiction treatment centres
  • play therapy centres
  • private practices.

Advancement opportunities depend on the size and nature of the employing organization.

Marriage and family counsellors are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 4153: Family, marriage and other related counsellors. In Alberta, 81% of people employed in this classification work in the Health Care and Social Assistance (PDF) industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 6,200 Albertans are employed in the Family, marriage and other related counsellors occupational group. This group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.3% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 205 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As marriage and family counsellors form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for marriage and family counsellors. 

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 15, 2016

For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, see the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website.

Family, marriage and other related counsellors
NOC code: 4153

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $17.79 $54.09 $30.13 $29.42
Overall $18.51 $55.00 $34.47 $32.83
Top $21.00 $55.00 $37.34 $38.46

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Public Administration
Health Care & Social Assistance

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


2015 Vacancy Rate

Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
    • Biology
  • Social Studies
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Community Care Services
    • Health Care Services
    • Human and Social Services
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
  • Sciences
  • Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies
  • Social, Community and Protective Services
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Alberta College of Social Workers website:

American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy website:

Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE) website:

College of Alberta Psychologists website:

Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) website:

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website:

Psychologists' Association of Alberta website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 19, 2016. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

Was this page useful?