Substance Abuse Counselor Salary

Substance Abuse Counselors aren't exactly in the most profitable line of business; these folks earn a belt-tightening average of $35K per year. The income range spans the entire spectrum between $25K and $48K per year. Location is the main element affecting pay for this group — tenure and the specific company are driving factors as well. Some workers in this field — close to a fourth — are not awarded benefits. Medical coverage is reported by a fair number and dental plans are enjoyed by more than half. There are more female Substance Abuse Counselors who answered the questionnaire than male, making up 67 percent. The majority of workers are highly satisfied with their job. The figures in this rundown are based on the results of PayScale's salary questionnaire.

$26,116 - $48,643
(Median)
$26K
$35K
$49K
MEDIAN: $35,027
10%
50%
90%

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$11.22 - $21.71
(Median)
$11
$15
$22
MEDIAN: $15.00
10%
50%
90%

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National Salary Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$17K$34K$51K
Salary
$26,116 - $48,643  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $1,037  
Profit Sharing
$491.32 - $4,069  
Commission
$0.00 - $5,000  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$25,303 - $47,733  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 20 Jun 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 1,242
National Hourly Rate Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$10$20$30
Hourly Rate
$11.22 - $21.71  
   
Overtime
$1.31 - $29.95  
National Annualized Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$20K$40K$60K
Bonus
$0.00 - $1,037  
   
Commission
$0.00 - $5,000  
Profit Sharing
$491.32 - $4,069  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$25,303 - $47,733  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 20 Jun 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 839
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Job Description for Substance Abuse Counselor

Substance abuse counselors play a very important role in today's society. They provide individual and group therapy for those who may be suffering from addictions. They can work in healthcare facilities, rehabilitation facilities, correctional facilities, and community and social agencies. Substance abuse counselors provide prevention, crisis care, and recovery services. Some counselors also work with the families of those who are addicted. They help people with many addictions, including addiction to alcohol, drugs, and gambling, as well as eating disorders. They interview the patients, administer periodic drug tests, and conduct counseling sessions. Counselors will need to develop individual intervention, treatment, and recovery plans for each patient. They facilitate and lead group and education sessions. They will gather their information by administrating interviews, case histories, observations, and assessments. Substance abuse counselors have large caseloads and documentation to manage. These counselors will have to perform substance abuse or other disorder evaluations for each individual patient. When the patients are ready to leave treatment, the counselor must continue to help them by developing aftercare programs and follow-up procedures. Some states only require a high school diploma and certification for employment to become a substance abuse counselor. However, most states require counselors to have a license. Becoming a substance abuse counselor can be a very challenging, demanding, and rewarding occupation. Substance abuse counselors help others with problems that they may be facing and help them to move forward in their life. This occupation requires patience, compassion, and a strong desire to help others in crisis. Substance abuse counselors can change the future for those who seek their help.


Substance Abuse Counselor Tasks

  • Gather information about patients using interviews, case histories, observations and assessments.
  • Facilitate and lead group and education sessions.
  • Manage caseload and documentation.
  • Develop individual intervention, treatment and recovery plans.
  • Perform substance abuse or other disorder evaluations for patients.

Common Career Paths for Substance Abuse Counselor


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Substance Abuse Counselors may experience a large salary bump if they progress into a role such as Clinical Director. The latter position pays an average of $70K annually. Becoming a Certified Drug and Alcohol Addiction Counselor or a Mental Health Counselor is often the next step for a Substance Abuse Counselor.

Substance Abuse Counselor Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Substance Abuse Counselor


Many Substance Abuse Counselors can be found at Colonial Management Group, LLC, Gateway Foundation, Inc., CRC Health Group Corporation, The Salvation Army, and Mental Health Systems, Inc., firms that are at the top of the field. Employees of The Salvation Army can expect to make the most, with the company offering a median salary of $33K; however, pay is widely dispersed from bottom to top, ranging from $21K to $47K.

For Substance Abuse Counselors, below-average salaries can be found at CRC Health Group Corporation; in fact, average earnings are around $30K, the lowest in the area, though the difference in the company's lowest and highest employee paychecks ($22K versus $41K) is great.

Popular Skills for Substance Abuse Counselor


Substance Abuse Counselors seem to require a number of specific skills. Most notably, skills in Assessment, Group Therapy, Counseling, and Facilitator are correlated to pay that is above average. For most people, competency in Case Management indicates knowledge of Facilitator.

Pay by Experience Level for Substance Abuse Counselor

Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.


Experience and pay tend to be weakly linked for Substance Abuse Counselors — those with more experience do not necessarily bring in higher earnings. Relatively untried employees who have less than five years' experience make $32K, but folks with five to 10 years under their belts enjoy an appreciably larger median of $37K. Substance Abuse Counselors bring in $40K after working for 10 to 20 years. Folks who have racked up more than 20 years in the field report incomes that aren't that much higher than less experienced individuals' earnings; the veterans make just $42K on average.

Pay Difference by Location


With a pay rate for Substance Abuse Counselors that is 14 percent greater than the national average, Philadelphia offers a comfortable salary for those in this profession. Substance Abuse Counselors will also find cushy salaries in New York (+13 percent), Houston (+10 percent), San Diego (+6 percent), and Baltimore (+5 percent). In Tampa, salaries are 19 percent below the national average and represent the lowest-paying market. Workers in Columbus and Chicago earn salaries that trail the national average for those in this profession (9 percent less).

Substance Abuse Counselor Reviews

What is it like working as a Substance Abuse Counselor?

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 Grand Rapids:
"I love to help people get clean and sober."
Pros: Helping clients maintain their sobriety once they have and watching them improve self worth, esteem, and self-image.
Cons: Seeing how backwards the "system" ie, CPS, mental health, & DHS are. They tend to set their clients up for failure by not reuniting families once clean and sober status is obtained. They continually hold they past hostage and do not believe they have changed, because reuniting families back together takes money out of the "systems" pockets.

Substance Abuse Counselor in Marshall:
"The Agency."
Pros: The people I work for and with are the best role models and colleagues I could wish for. They accepted me as an intern and were helpful with guidance and suggestions, and most importantly, patient with my progress as I continued to learn from them. I am also very passionate about working with people with substance abuse issues. I have the chance to work with all ages, races and addiction issues. It is very rewarding to have them begin to heal under the care and programs of our agency.
Cons: I don't have anything I don't like about my job.

Substance Abuse Counselor in Philadelphia:
"Extend a Helping Hand."
Pros: In a position such as a Substance Abuse Counselor allows me the opportunity to extend a helping hand to others less fortunate.

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Experience Affects Substance Abuse Counselor Salaries




National Average
$34,000


Skills That Affect Substance Abuse Counselor Salaries

Assessment
up arrow 11%

Group Therapy
up arrow 3%

Counseling
0%

Facilitator
0%

National Average
$34,000

Case Management
up arrow 1%

Diagnosis and Treatment Planning
up arrow 2%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 348 votes.

Gender

Female
67 %
Male
33 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
7%
1-4 years
50%
5-9 years
20%
10-19 years
17%
20 years or more
6%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 71% dental benefits Dental: 57%
vision benefits Vision: 42% employee benefits None: 26%
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