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I Make $75,000 As A Behavioral Health Consultant — & I’m Finally In A Job I Love


In our seriesSalary Stories, women with long-term career experience open up about the most intimate details of their jobs: compensation. It’s an honest look at how real people navigate the complicated world of negotiating, raises, promotions, and job loss, with the hope it will give young women more insight into how to advocate for themselves — and maybe take a few risks along the way.

Been in the workforce for at least eight years and interested in contributing your salary story? Submit your information here.

Previously, we talked to a legal assistant in Austin, TX , a tax advisory specialist in Buffalo, NY , and a social worker in Raleigh, NC.

Age: 31
Current Location: Houston, TX
Current Industry & Title: Behavioral Health, Lead Behavioral Health Consultant
Starting Salary: $40,875
Current Salary: $75,000
Number Of Years Employed: 8
Biggest Salary Jump: $12,500 ($62,500 to $75,000)
Biggest Salary Drop: Thankfully, no salary drops since I've been employed.

Biggest Salary Negotiation Regret: "Not negotiating for my first job. I moved from Florida to Texas on a whim after grad school and was pretty desperate for a job in my field. I had been doing phone interviews and bombing, so when I finally landed a job (side note: I actually showed up one hour late for the interview because I was super lost; I had driven from Florida to Texas for a face-to-face interview), I jumped at the first salary they offered without asking for anything. It was a government job, so once I was in the position, I was able to look up other people's salaries in the same role and same experience level, and of course I found out that I could have asked for $5-$7K more. Lesson learned."

Best Salary-Related Advice: "Be brave and go for it when negotiating; don't let the fear of seeming ungrateful or greedy cloud your decision. If you are worth the money, ask for it!"

"This was a bachelor-level position, and at the time I had two graduate degrees, one year of related experience (I had to work full-time while in grad school), and one national certification. With all of this, though, ya girl could not land a job that paid more than $35K, which was not going to work for me. So when I got this job offer at a university, I thought, "Less work and $40k — I guess I can do this for a little.

"This was a university that was contracted by the state to provide medical and mental health care. In this role, I had a caseload of about 75-90 offenders, all of whom had a serious mental illness (bipolar, MDD, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder). I would follow up with them monthly to monitor for any signs of decompensation or report any medication side effects to our psychiatric nurse practitioner. I would also run weekly psycho-educational groups, a substance-abuse recovery group, and a process group."

"This was a promotion at my job about six months after I started. I worked in corrections, and once I got adjusted to getting searched before entering the unit and hearing the gates lock behind me, I kind of got used to all of the craziness that went on. Thankfully, I did not see much violence — a few fights here and there but nothing super serious. The craziest things I saw were often related to offenders who had a psychotic break or who maybe took some kind of illicit substance along with their psych meds.

"Once I got acclimated to the position, it didn't take long for me to get a little bored with the role, so I started doing more work while there as a way to keep myself from being frustrated. We had no internet, no phones, no nothing (the horror!!), so doing extra work was really all I could do to stay awake. My bosses took notice, and boom, promotion. Over the years there, I was able to get about two raises, thanks to Texas state legislation; my final salary there was $47,625."

"I left my old job after getting fully licensed in Texas. This was my new employer's starting salary for a licensed healing arts therapist, which I thought was pretty good for this industry, so I didn't negotiate. Looking back, I probably should have, because this job was HELL and my boss was a micromanaging nightmare. I literally had to do three to four jobs sometimes, all while driving all over to see clients.

"This was a field-based position, so when I was hired, I was told that I would get kids in a specific zone and I would provide school-based or home-based cognitive behavioral therapy. This was not the case. I was assigned kids all over the county, which was larger than the state of Rhode Island. So in addition to driving all over the place to do therapy, I would also have to attend school special education/504 meetings, provide parenting classes to parents, and be my own case manger finding resources for patients and their parents." 

"I found my current job, at another university, on Indeed. Surprisingly, the supervisor at the time actually pushed HR for me to be started at this salary, as opposed to the $59K HR wanted to give me. Honestly, though, at this point my previous job was such a damn nightmare — and had triggered a depressive episode with severe anxiety — that I was willing to take a $10K pay cut to escape. It really was that bad. I was thrilled that I didn't have to take a pay cut, and my new boss cared about me as a person and my mental health, as opposed to meeting ridiculous quotas.

"This new job entailed providing brief solution-focused consults to patients who came in with medical issues and could benefit from behavioral strategies to help manage their medical issues. For example, assisting patients with diabetes management or smoking cessation."

"This was a promotion about 14 months after starting. At this company, I thrived!! It's amazing what a healthy environment can do for a person. In my previous role, I would occasionally help out with organizing things, creating simplified workflows, doing presentations (despite my fear of public speaking), volunteering for other projects, etc. As a result, when my supervisor decided to leave for another opportunity, she approached me about taking the team lead position. I was actually apprehensive about it, as I had other coworkers with more years of experience, this was a Ph.D-level position (totes don't have one of these), and I was the youngest person on my team. But she really encouraged me, so I went for it.

"When it came time to talk salary, she told me what the range should be; with that info I went in with the big guns and asked for $10K over the range, knowing that we would settle at the top of the original range. I was so nervous when negotiating, but I had a script that I practiced over and over before my meeting, and it worked!

"The work I do now is exactly what I did in my previous role, providing behavioral health consults, brief interventions, and occasionally psychotherapy. As the lead, I have the additional responsibility of attending management meetings, and conceptualizing and executing plans for expansion of behavioral health services within our agency. Going into management has given me some growing pains, as I am a perfectionist and have dealt with imposter syndrome (again, being the youngest person and a minority in the room), but overall I do love what I do. I think all of my previous crazy/bad experiences have made me so much more thankful and appreciative of working at a place where I feel like I am making a difference and I am valued."

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