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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 $61,978.00
  • Avg. Wage $33.93
  • Minimum Education 6 years post-secondary
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 6,100
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Advisor, Counsellor, Marriage Counsellor

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Family, Marriage and Other Related Counsellors (4153) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Family, Marriage and Other Related Counsellors (E023) 
  • 2011 NOC: Family, marriage and other related counsellors (4153) 
  • 2016 NOC: Family, marriage and other related counsellors (4153) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

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

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).

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Gonzaga University

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.

Social Worker

Social workers enhance or restore the social functioning of individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities by improving developmental, problem solving and coping capacities of people and systems; promote effective and humane systems that provide resources, opportunities and services to people and link people to those systems; and contribute to the development and improvement of social policy.


Under Alberta's Health Professions Act and the Social Workers Profession Regulation, registration with the Alberta College of Social Workers (ACSW) is mandatory if you meet identified educational requirements and provide professional services directly to the public, teach the practice of the profession to members or students of the profession, or supervise registered members who provide services to the public. Registered members who are authorized by the College perform restricted activities defined in the Regulation. Only registered members may use the protected titles Social Worker or Registered Social Worker. To use the protected title Clinical Social Worker, registered members must meet additional requirements.

What You Need

Registration as a Social Worker requires: (1) a diploma or a degree from an approved social work program and (2) at least 1,500 hours of acceptable practical experience, 500 hours of which must be within the 3 years prior to application. Applicants who have been out of practice for a period of time also may have to demonstrate that they are currently competent to practice. For official, detailed information about registration requirements, visit the ACSW website or contact ACSW. For official, detailed information about registration requirements, visit the ACSW website or contact the ACSW.

Working in Alberta

Social workers who are registered by and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if registered social workers in the two jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory? and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

To learn about certification for internationally educated social workers, see Social Worker Registration Process.

Contact Details

Alberta College of Social Workers
550, 10707 - 100 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada  T5J 3M1
Phone number: 780-421-1167
Toll-free phone number: 1-800-661-3089
Fax number: 780-421-1168

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 15, 2016

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.

In Alberta, the E023: Family, Marriage and Other Related Counsellors occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.3% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 205 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

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

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 $18.00 $37.42 $28.50 $28.41
Overall $20.07 $51.60 $33.93 $30.19
Top $20.90 $56.21 $38.76 $35.72

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.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Educational Services
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


Vacancy Rate

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:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

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.

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