Substance Abuse Counselor Salary
Job Description for Substance Abuse Counselor
Substance abuse counselors provide therapy to individuals struggling with issues related to alcohol and/or drug use. They may lead group counseling and support groups, as well as conduct one-on-one sessions with patients; employers may include nonprofit and for-profit healthcare providers, government entities and nonprofit organizations that provide counseling services. These counselors must have an excellent understanding of how to work with individuals dealing with substance abuse issues, including common issues for this population and established therapeutic techniques. It is important for the counselor to be able to work with people who come from a variety of age groups and cultures.
Generally, substance abuse counselors perform evaluations for patients and develop a personalized plan for recovery; over the course of counseling, this plan may change depending on the patient’s needs and progress. The counselor should have a large network of connections to things such as community services and medical providers so that clients can be referred to these services as necessary. It may also be essential to work with the patient’s medical providers with the patient’s permission. All activities performed with patients should be well documented and in compliance with patient confidentiality laws.
A master’s degree in social work, counseling or a related field is often needed for substance abuse counselor positions. Previous experience is often required or preferred as well. Usually, the substance abuse counselor is required to be certified, possessing one or more certifications such as licensed clinical addiction counselor, licensed mental health counselor and licensed clinical social worker.
Substance Abuse Counselor Tasks
- Manage caseload and documentation
- Perform substance abuse or other disorder evaluations for patients
- Develop individual intervention, treatment and recovery plans
- Facilitate and lead group and education sessions
- Gather information about patients using interviews, case histories, observations and assessments
Common Career Paths for Substance Abuse Counselor
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It’s not very common for Substance Abuse Counselors to move on to become Clinical Directors. Average pay for a Clinical Director is $72K annually. Becoming a Certified Drug and Alcohol Addiction Counselor is, more often than not, the most common role that Substance Abuse Counselors move into when they’re ready for the next step in their career. A median salary for a Certified Drug and Alcohol Addiction Counselor is $35K. Another frequent advance is for Substance Abuse Counselors to assume a Mental Health Counselor role; in this role, workers often take home $38K.
Substance Abuse Counselor Job Listings
Popular Employer Salaries for Substance Abuse Counselor
Colonial Management Group, LLC, CRC Health Group Corporation, Gateway Foundation, Inc. Behavioral Health Group, and Mental Health Systems, Inc. are among the top companies that take on many Substance Abuse Counselors. Heading up the field in terms of compensation, The Salvation Army offers the most; Substance Abuse Counselors earn $44K on average there. Substance Abuse Counselors can also look forward to large paychecks at Catholic Charities ($41K), Hina Mauka ($37K), and The Phoenix House ($35K).
Employees at CRC Health Group Corporation, Pyramid Healthcare, Inc. and Gateway Foundation, Inc. can also expect below-average earnings of $30K, $31K, and $32K.
Popular Skills for Substance Abuse Counselor
This chart shows the most popular skills for this job and what effect each skill has on pay.
Substance Abuse Counselors seem to require a rather large skill set. Most notably, skills in Clinical Supervision, Oral / Verbal Communication, Patient Counseling, and Writing Procedures & Documentation are correlated to pay that is above average, with boosts between 4 percent and 17 percent. Bilingual and Masters degree as skills, however, tend to be associated with significantly smaller paychecks. Most people who know Case Management also know Facilitator.
Pay by Experience Level for Substance Abuse Counselor
Pay by Experience for a Substance Abuse Counselor has a positive trend. An entry-level Substance Abuse Counselor with less than 5 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $34,000 based on 1,256 salaries provided by anonymous users. Average total compensation includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay. A Substance Abuse Counselor with mid-career experience which includes employees with 5 to 10 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $38,000 based on 454 salaries. An experienced Substance Abuse Counselor which includes employees with 10 to 20 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $41,000 based on 328 salaries. A Substance Abuse Counselor with late-career experience which includes employees with greater than 20 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $44,000 based on 103 salaries.
Pay Difference by Location
Surpassing the national average by 18 percent, Substance Abuse Counselors in Philadelphia receive some of the highest pay in the country. Substance Abuse Counselors can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Phoenix (+11 percent), Atlanta (+9 percent), New York (+7 percent), and San Diego (+6 percent). Houston is home to the smallest salaries in the field, lagging the national average by 14 percent. Employers in Los Angeles and Raleigh also lean toward paying below-median salaries (10 percent less).
Substance Abuse Counselor Reviews
Q: What is it like working as a Substance Abuse Counselor?
Substance Abuse Counselor in Indio:
Pros: I enjoy helping addicts on their roar to recovery.
Cons: Not enough time working with addicts, to much paper work.
Substance Abuse Counselor in Paramus:
Pros: Helping people is the best thing about the job. As well as the pay.
Cons: The hospital is very understaffed when it comes to the counselors. Because of that most of us are extremely overworked. I work every weekend as well which I hate.
Substance Abuse Counselor in Lompoc:
It s unpredictable and challenging in more than one way.
Pros: I like the freedom to be creative.
Cons: Poor management leadership, stressfull job, dealing with difficult rude clients at times, doing Med call, and detox Med call.
Substance Abuse Counselor in New Castle:
Only if you have a heart for addiction.
Pros: Helping people learn to change their lives. Working independently.
Cons: Massive amounts of paperwork limit your therapeutic efficacy. High stress.
Substance Abuse Counselor in Panama City:
Pros: It is very satisfying to see clients gain skills and beliefs that enable them to live drug or alcohol free lives, with relationships restored and hope regained.
Cons: There is a lot of emotional drama as clients come off their drug of choice and begin to learn to live and work with other women. There has also been a lot of drama with management as they learn the ropes.
Substance Abuse Counselor in Panama City:
Pros: It is a highly challenging position both in meeting clients needs and in teaching other staff about what is required. It can be very satisfying when client phases up, learns a new skill or insight, or graduates.
Cons: There is constant drama with clients and management.
Substance Abuse Counselor in El Centro: