Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Factors Affecting African American Counselors' Job Satisfaction: A National Survey

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Factors Affecting African American Counselors' Job Satisfaction: A National Survey

Article excerpt

During the early 1970s, research regarding the job satisfaction of mental health professionals was relatively nonexistent. In fact, Sarata (as cited in Buffum & Konick, 1982) found only 20 studies with that focus. However, because researchers began to understand the importance of job satisfaction research that included mental health personnel, research in this area has increased during the past 30 years (Jaeger & Tesh, 1989; Perlman, Hartman, & Theyel, 1979; Pierce, 2001; Rayle, 2006; Tang, 1993). Nevertheless, even though the number of job satisfaction studies regarding mental health professionals has grown, research related to the job satisfaction of African American counselors (AACs) is negligible (Holcomb-McCoy & Addison-Bradley, 2005; Nagayama, Gordon, & Maramba, 2001; Sanchez et al., 1992). Determining the factors that contribute to the job satisfaction of currently employed AACs is important to the African American community, the mental health profession, and the nation. This information will help employers and the counseling profession in the recruitment and retention of AACs in the mental health field because job satisfaction is a major factor that influences whether an individual will enter and continue in an occupation (Spector, 1997).

With so few African American counselors currently employed in the United States, it is necessary to consider specific enhancements to their job entry and persistence if their numbers are to increase. The purpose of this study, then, was to investigate the job satisfaction of AACs and to determine which variables influence their satisfaction with the counseling profession. The following research questions were used: (a) What is the level of job satisfaction expressed by AACs? (b) Which of the 20 job facets on the Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire (MSQ) are rated as being most important to AACs' job satisfaction? and (c) Which demographic variables contributed significantly to the job satisfaction of AACs?

* Method


At the time of this study (i.e., 2004), the American Counseling Association (ACA) had approximately 54,150 members, of which 936 (1.73%) were AACs. Of these, 400 were randomly selected to receive a mailed survey to obtain data for the current study. The choice of this number was based on Edwards, Thomas, Rosenfeld, and Kewley-Booth's (1997) guidelines to obtain a representative sample. A total of 199 participants returned the surveys, resulting in a 49.8% return rate. Seventeen surveys were discarded because the participants indicated they were currently either retired, unemployed, or no longer working in the counseling profession; thus, 182 participants provided usable data for this study.


Instruments used in this study were a modified version of the MSQ (Weiss, Dawis, England, & Lofquist, 1967) and a data information form (DIF). We used the MSQ and examined overall job satisfaction as well as satisfaction related to each of 20 job facets. The DIF used in this study was based on demographic forms used in previous job satisfaction research (DeMato, 2001; Sweeney, 2000). Participants were asked to provide the following personal information: age (in years), gender (male/female), and marital status (single, married, divorced, partnered). In addition, they provided information regarding their education as well as answers to open-ended questions about aspects of their job, their professional credentials and development, and their career plans.

Researchers frequently use the MSQ to assess job satisfaction (Jayaratne, 1993; Spector, 1997). Since its development in 1967, it has been used to assess the job satisfaction of school counselors, employee assistance counselors, rehabilitation counselors, and substance abuse counselors (DeMato, 2001; Evans & Hohenshil, 1997; Satcher & McGhee, 1995; Sweeney, 2000). The MSQ is a self-administered, untimed, paper-and-pencil, hand-scored instrument that participants usually complete in 15 to 20 minutes (Weiss et al. …

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