7 Roles in Mental Health That Don’t Require an Advanced Degree

7 Roles in Mental Health That Don’t Require an Advanced Degree

You don’t have to be a psychiatrist or a therapist to make a positive difference in the lives of individuals suffering from mental health challenges. Comprehensive treatment programs, both residential and outpatient, employ a team of passionate and committed people filling a wide variety of roles—and many of these positions don’t require a clinical, medical, or other graduate degree.

At Newport Healthcare, our integrated and integrative programming brings together many different types of care providers for our teen and young adult clients. Furthermore, our model of care extends beyond clinical therapy sessions to encompass experiential modalities like nutrition, culinary arts, yoga, and meditation. Daily activities, self-care, and care for shared spaces are also part of the treatment experience.

All of these aspects of care—along with the many other elements that create a successful organization and a compassionate environment—call for skilled and dedicated staff. In addition, Newport Healthcare offers opportunities for promotion and tuition reimbursement, pay raises for certifications and degrees, and extensive on-the-job training.

We coach and guide you as you’re figuring out which aspect of the field is right for you, and at the same time you’re making a difference for the clients you’re working with.

—Dr. Jennifer Dragonette, PsyD, Newport Executive Director in Northern California

Here are a few of the many roles in the mental healthcare field that don’t require an advanced degree.

Care Coordinator

Care coordinators, also referred to as residential coordinators or residential supervisors, support clients in all aspects of daily living. At Newport Academy, our program for teens, and Newport Institute, our young adult program, our Care Coordinators are also mentors. They build the rapport with our young people that allows them to foster clients’ well-being throughout their time with us. Care Coordinators’ responsibilities include working with clients to establish safe and healthy behavioral boundaries, help them to bond with the other clients in their group, resolve any issues that might arise, and ensure that they receive additional services as needed. Care Coordinators facilitate clients’ daily schedules, including their participation in chores, group activities, and events. A high school diploma or GED is typically required for this role; a bachelor’s degree in psychology, counseling, or sociology is often preferred but not essential.


At Newport Healthcare, we view the “meal as medicine,” which means our culinary department is an integral part of the treatment experience. Our Chef de Cuisine, sous chefs, and prep cooks work together to ensure that the preparation and presentation of all meals and snacks to residents, guests, and families meet our standard of culinary excellence. Our kitchen staff creates healthy, organic, and varied offerings that meet clients’ nutrition needs while transforming mealtime into a practice of enjoyment and self-care. Culinary positions like these typically require experience in the field rather than an educational degree.

Alumni Support Staff

Our clients’ healing journeys don’t end once they leave Newport Healthcare. To support them in their next steps along the path, we provide ongoing connection and community through our Alumni Program. Our Alumni team meets with clients while they’re on campus to familiarize them with the program, plans and organizes seasonal activities and reunion events, and maintains outreach efforts for all alumni through online initiatives.

Discharge Planner

Discharge planners coordinate with a variety of other departments to assist patients and families in establishing a detailed plan for life after treatment. This multifaceted role involves acting as a liaison between many different internal teams as well as support networks in clients’ home communities. The ultimate—and incredibly satisfying—goal is to provide a client with everything they need in order to move into the next stage of their life with the foundation and tools that will help them continue to flourish. This role requires experience in the field rather than a specific degree.

Recovery Counselor

This role involves supporting individuals to set and achieve goals for recovery from co-occurring substance abuse disorders and other mental health issues, helping them to stay on track with their progress. Often, the most important qualification for a recovery counselor is a personal experience of healing from addiction or another mental health issue. In addition, many recovery counselors were inspired to pursue this path after witnessing a loved one struggling with a disorder. Depending on the employer and specific position, recovery counselors may need no more than a high school education or an undergraduate degree. Licensing, certification, and/or training may be required or preferred.

Administrative Positions

Everyone involved with an effective mental health treatment program is helping people to heal, whether or not they work directly with patients. Scheduling appointments, fielding phone calls, working in the billing department or Human Resources, and many other administrative roles that don’t require advanced degrees are essential in ensuring the smooth functioning of a treatment program.

Yoga and Meditation Teacher

Mindful practices like yoga and meditation are proven to support well-being by shifting the nervous system into the parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) mode. That’s why an increasing number of treatment programs are adding yoga and meditation teachers and yoga therapists to their staff. At Newport Healthcare, mindfulness is woven into our clients’ daily schedules at every outpatient and residential location, and our yoga teachers are valued members of our treatment team.

Ready to explore careers in the mental health field that don’t require an advanced degree? Learn more about opportunities to join the Newport Healthcare team on our Careers page.


  • JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(3):357–368