Substance Abuse Counselor Salary

Those pursuing careers as Substance Abuse Counselors in the United States may have to make do with less; average incomes for people in this area hover around only $35K per year. The income range spans the entire spectrum between $25K and $48K per year. This group's pay is mainly influenced by geographic location, followed by tenure and the particular employer. Health benefits are not enjoyed by everyone in this line of work, and roughly one in four lack any coverage at all. Medical benefits are reported by a fair number and dental coverage is claimed by a majority. The majority of Substance Abuse Counselors (67 percent) who took the survey are women. The majority of workers are highly satisfied with their job. This snapshot results from replies to PayScale's salary survey.

$26,183 - $48,532

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$11.32 - $21.68

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National Salary Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$17K$34K$51K
Salary
$26,183 - $48,532  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $1,030  
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).
)
$25,380 - $47,677  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 18 Jul 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 1,241
National Hourly Rate Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$11$22$33
Hourly Rate
$11.32 - $21.68  
   
Overtime
$1.41 - $30.03  
National Annualized Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$22K$44K$66K
Bonus
$0.00 - $1,030  
   
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).
)
$25,380 - $47,677  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 18 Jul 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 850
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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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Though not the most common occurrence, Substance Abuse Counselors sometimes become Clinical Directors, where the average income is $70K per year. Moving from a Substance Abuse Counselor to Certified Drug and Alcohol Addiction Counselor or Mental Health Counselor is a more common career path, however.

Substance Abuse Counselor Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Substance Abuse Counselor


Dominating the field, Colonial Management Group, LLC, Gateway Foundation, Inc., CRC Health Group Corporation, The Salvation Army, and Mental Health Systems, Inc. are top firms with a reputation for hiring a great number of Substance Abuse Counselors. For Substance Abuse Counselors, comfortable salaries can be found at The Salvation Army; in fact, average earnings are around $33K, the highest in the area, though the difference in the company's lowest and highest employee paychecks ($21K versus $47K) is great.

Bringing up the rear, CRC Health Group Corporation's median pay of $30K is the lowest in town; however, employee salaries widely range, with some making up to $41K.

Popular Skills for Substance Abuse Counselor


Substance Abuse Counselors report using a wide range of professional 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.


For Substance Abuse Counselors, level of experience appears to be a somewhat less important part of the salary calculation — more experience does not correlate to noticeably higher pay. Respondents with less than five years' experience take home $32K on average. In contrast, those who have been around for five to 10 years earn a noticeably higher average of $37K. People with 10 to 20 years of experience make an average of about $40K in this role. People who have worked for more than 20 years report a median income of $42K, which is barely higher than the median for folks with 10 to 20 years of experience.

Pay Difference by Location


For Substance Abuse Counselors, busy Philadelphia offers a higher-than-average pay rate, 14 percent above the national average. Substance Abuse Counselors will also find cushy salaries in New York (+10 percent), Houston (+9 percent), Atlanta (+6 percent), and Baltimore (+4 percent). Tampa ranks last in the field for pay, reporting salaries 19 percent below the national average. Employers in Columbus and Chicago also lean toward paying below-median salaries (9 percent less).

Substance Abuse Counselor Reviews

What is it like working as a Substance Abuse Counselor?

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 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.

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Experience Affects Substance Abuse Counselor Salaries




National Average
$34,000


Skills That Affect Substance Abuse Counselor Salaries

Assessment
up arrow 10%

Group Therapy
up arrow 4%

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 338 votes.

Gender

Female
67 %
Male
33 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
7%
1-4 years
51%
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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