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How To Become a Mental Health Worker: Career Salaries, Job Stats & Education

How To Become a Mental Health Worker: Career Salaries, Job Stats & Education

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/ How To Become a Mental Health Worker: Career Salaries, Job Stats & Education

Thinking of a career in Mental Health?

Would you like to make a real, lasting difference in people’s lives? You can help those suffering from mental health conditions by entering into a rewarding career in mental health. To become a mental health worker many begin with a qualification in mental health, counselling or community services such as the Certificate IV in Mental Health, and may continue to further their studies into university. So while you may have thought of doing a Bachelor’s degree or higher, you can actually enter the field in a role such as Community Support Work by studying for a Certificate IV in Mental Health.

As a Community Support Worker or Welfare Support Worker, you’ll be helping people in their day-to-day lives, easing the burden of their conditions and providing them with emotional support. It’s the perfect entry point for a career in Mental Health, and thanks to online learning, you can study towards this role around your own schedule.

Welfare Support Worker Career Outlook

Welfare Support Worker

Source: *Job Outlook Government website. Here is the information for Welfare Support Workers (Closest applicable title) The 2019 employment projections do not take account of any impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and are therefore no longer reflective of current labour market conditions. As such, they should be used, and interpreted, with extreme caution. Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, National Skills Commission trend data to May 2019 and projections to 2024.​

The graph shows historical and projected (to 2024) employment levels (thousands) for this occupation.

A recent fall in the number of support workers means there’s a strong growth forecast in the next five years. There are forecasts for around 80,500 job openings by 2024. Many of these openings are from workers leaving, while others are from new jobs being created. Jobs are available in every region in Australia.

The Australian jobs market is rapidly changing in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The figures here are estimates and do not take into account the impact of the pandemic. 

Welfare Support Worker Salary

Welfare worker salary

Source: *Job Outlook Government website. Based on ABS Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours (cat. no. 6306.0), May 2018, Customised Report. These are Median weekly total cash earnings for full-time non-managerial employees paid at the adult rate. Earnings can vary greatly depending on the skills and experience of the worker and the demands of the role. 

While support workers earn less than the all jobs average, they also work for approximately 3 less hours per week than other roles at an average of 41 hours per week. Typically, you can expect initial earnings to begin at $69,056 annually, growing higher as you build experience. So for Mental Health workers, that is around $1,328 per week or $32 per hour. 

Please note: these earnings are grouped by the Welfare Support Workers, so individual earnings in other mental health fields may be higher.

Welfare Support Worker Age Profile

Welfare Support Worker Age

This data shows the age profiles of workers in this profession compared to other occupations. Welfare support workers, including mental health workers, tend to be slightly older than the average worker at 43 years versus 40.

Welfare Support Worker Education Levels

Welfare Support Worker Education

Source: ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.

The available data indicates that 26.8% of Community Support Workers hold a bachelor’s degree and 26% holds an Advanced Diploma / Diploma. 20.2% held a Certificate III/IV compared to 21.1% average. Just 8.7% of workers in the field had been educated only to Year 12 – showcasing the importance of attaining a Certificate IV or above.

What Jobs Are There In Mental Health?

Jobs in mental health include everything from less senior positions such as community support workers, mental health outreach workers and mental health rehabilitation support workers through to more senior roles such as psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors.

Community Support Worker or Welfare Support Worker

We’ve focused this research around Community Support Workers, who are at the frontline in helping people deal with their mental health issues. To become a community support worker, you need to hold a Certificate IV in Mental Health or higher.

However, there are lots of roles available within the field. Depending on your ambitions, there are lots of other mental health careers. Many demand longer study periods and years and years of hard work to get qualified – but the higher salaries and higher level of responsibilities are a worthy reward. These jobs include:


A psychiatrist is often considered the ‘top’ of the mental health profession in terms of education and experience. They hold full medical degrees and can administer psychopharmacology (medication) – the unique difference between psychologists and psychiatrists. They are, however, still trained in techniques such as cognitive behaviour therapy. Psychiatrists typically charge high fees for their 

services and offer shorter appointments. To become a psychiatrist, you need a medical degree and then around six years of post-graduate training.


Psychologists typically hold a degree in psychology, which takes four years to complete. However, you must also complete an additional post graduate degree or a clinical doctorate. Unlike psychiatrists, psychologists cannot prescribe medication. Instead, they focus on assessing, diagnosing and assisting mental health patients.

There are different kinds of psychologists, varying from Clinical Psychologists to Counselling Psychologists, Forensic Psychologists and more.


If years of studying at university sounds unrealistic, a career in Counselling is a fantastic way to enjoy a rewarding career in Mental Health. Counsellors can start with a nationally-recognised diploma. You’ll offer support, advice and direction for patients – and you can even specialise in fields such as youth work and drug and alcohol support. 

Substance Abuse Counsellor/Drug and Alcohol Support Worker

While not strictly specialising in mental health, many of the patients who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction or substance abuse issues are also dealing with mental health conditions. You could offer advice, support and assistance to people as part of a truly rewarding role. To get started, you’ll need a certificate IV in either Youth Work or Alcohol and Drugs  

What qualifications do I need to be a Mental Health Worker?

The qualifications you need to work within mental health vary depending on the role you plan to enter. From certificates through to a PhD, what you’ll need depends on which job title is your end goal. The following examples showcase what qualifications you’ll need depending on your job aspirations.

Job title

Qualifications required

Mental Health Intake Officer, Community Support Worker, Mental Health Rehabilitation Support Worker, Welfare Support Worker

Certificate IV in Mental Health or Equivalent

Counsellor, Intake Counsellor

Diploma of Counselling


Bachelor’s degree + master’s degree (minimum) – often also requires a doctoral program for more specialised roles.


Medical degree, internship, residency + 5 year’s of vocational training.


What Does A Community Support Worker Do?

Community support workers support clients through a wide range of emotional, personal and social needs. Typically, you’ll work in a community dealing with the elderly, youth or those suffering from mental health conditions. You will work in a rewarding role where you help develop clients – encouraging self-confidence, independence and well-being. Often, you will be employed in a care facility but may also visit a client’s home.

What Skills Do You Need to Work in Mental Health?

These skills are recommended to be able to work as a Mental Health worker. Skills can be improved through training or experience.

  • Social perceptiveness : To understand why people react the way they do.
  • Active Listening : Listening without interrupting and also asking relevant questions. 
  • Serving others : Looking for ways to help people. 
  • Speaking : Talking to others. 
  • Reading Comprehension : Reading work related information. 

How Do I Get a Job in Mental Health?

To get a job as a Mental Health Worker, you usually need a formal qualification in either society and culture, , human welfare, community service, behavioural science or another related field. VET (Vocational Education and Training) and university are both common study pathways for Mental Health Workers.

How Do I Become A Mental Health Therapist?

If you’d like to further your studies and become a mental health therapist, you must hold a qualification that allows you to offer therapy to patients who suffer from mental health conditions. In Australia, a mental health therapist offers counselling and is referred to as a Mental Health Counsellor. Both psychiatrists and psychologists also provide therapy – although both roles require a far longer study period that involves postgraduate qualifications.

Enrol in our CHC43315 Certificate IV in Mental Health today!





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