Becoming a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist in Illinois

How to Become a Marriage Family Therapist in Illinois

Marriage and family therapy focuses on brief, solution-driven therapy with attainable, therapeutic goals. Marriage and family therapists deal with individuals, couples, and families within the context of domestic relationships and are licensed to diagnose and treat any number of mental and emotional disorders and family/couple/marital/parent-child distress and conflict.

As highly educated, licensed practitioners, marriage and family therapists work in a variety of settings in Illinois, including major hospital systems like Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, governmental agencies like Douglas County Mental Health Center in Tuscola, and private mental health clinics like Lincoln Prairie Behavioral Health Center in Springfield.

Learning more about how to become a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) in Illinois starts with a good understanding of state educational and licensing requirements.

Education Requirements for Marriage and Family Therapists in Illinois

The first step in becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist in the state of Illinois is to acquire your bachelor’s degree. Recommended fields of study for your undergraduate degree include psychology, sociology, counseling, or a related field.

MFT Educational Track Education Requirements Education Length Available Programs
Undergraduate Work Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Counseling 4 Years Online or Campus
Graduate Work Earn a Master's Degree in Counseling 5-6 Years Online or Campus
PHD or Doctoral Work Earn a Doctorate in Counseling 7-8 Years Online or Campus

But to earn licensure as an MFT in Illinois, you’ll need to then earn a master’s or doctorate degree in marriage, couple, and family counseling from a school that holds basic institutional accreditation, or one in a similar field with an equivalent MFT curriculum that has either been approved directly by the Illinois Marriage and Family Therapy Licensing and Disciplinary Board or that holds national accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).

Graduate programs offered in a hybrid/blended or online format can make earning the degree you need to become an LMFT more accessible than ever.

If you already hold a master’s or doctorate degree in a related field like psychology, social work, psychiatric nursing, or ministry, you may also become an LMFT in Illinois by completing a post-graduate training program in marriage and family therapy.

Read more about Illinois MFT Degrees.

Additional Requirements for Marriage and Family Therapists in Illinois

After graduating from an accredited graduate degree, you’ll need to complete at least 3,000 hours of work under the guidance of a state-approved supervisor. Of these required hours, 1,000 must be in direct contact with clients, including at least 350 hours with a single client and another 350 hours in direct contact group therapy.

You’ll then need to apply with, and receive approval from, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (and pay the $100 application fee) before you can take the national exam developed by the Association of Marital & Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB), the last step to becoming an LMFT in Illinois.

Once you’ve taken the AMFTRB exam, you’ll earn licensure to practice as an LMFT in Illinois.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Career Outlook In Illinois

The number of marriage and family therapist jobs in Illinois is projected to increase by just 2.2% between 2018 and 2028. During this ten-year period leading to 2028, the state should see about 50 annual job openings for marriage and family therapists due to a combination of new job growth, retirements, and natural job turnover.

As of May 2020, marriage and family therapists in Illinois earned a median salary of $57,150. During this time, the BLS reported that Illinois ranked third in the nation for its pay of marriage and family therapists and fourth in the nation for its employment level of these professionals. The highest-paid marriage and family therapists in Illinois (75th – 90th percentile) earned about $106,370 - $121,480 during this time.

Research Additional Psychology Professional Licenses Granted by Illinois

As you learn more about the career of an LMFT, you may also be interested in learning more about the educational requirements and salaries of similar professions in Illinois:

  • Learn more about becoming a psychologist in Illinois: Requires a PhD or PsyD; as of May 2020, clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in Illinois earned a median salary of $72,800, while seasoned pros with considerable experience earned closer to the 75th – 90th percentile, which was $94,850 - $121,590 during this time.
  • Learn more about becoming a licensed counselor in Illinois: Requires a master’s degree with a focus in the specialty; substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in Illinois earned a median salary of $43,620 as of May 2020, while those at the top of the pay scale (75th – 90th percentile) earned about $57,950 - $74,260.
  • Learn more about becoming a social worker in Illinois: Requires a master’s in social work; child, family, and school social workers in Illinois earned a median salary of $54,460 as of May 2020, while the top earners here (75th – 90th percentile) earned about $73,520 - $90,820. Illinois’ mental health and substance abuse social workers earned a median salary of $51,050 as of May 2020, while those at the top of the field (75th – 90th percentile) earned about $62,400 - $90,600.

May 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and job market trends for marriage and family therapists, clinical, counseling and school psychologists, substance abuse, behavioral disorders, and mental health counselors, child, family, and school social workers, and mental health and substance abuse social workers. Figures represent state data, not school specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed May 2021.

State job growth projections for marriage and family therapists sourced from the U.S. Department of Labor-sponsored O*Net database (2018-2028).

Schools with MFT Degree Programs Accepting Students from Illinois