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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 $47K per year. The most important factor affecting compensation for this group is experience level, followed by the particular city and the specific company. Female Substance Abuse Counselors are more common than men among those who completed the survey; more than half (67 percent) are women. The majority of workers are highly satisfied with their job. Health benefits are not claimed by all — one-fourth lack any form of coverage — but a fair number have medical insurance, and the greater part have dental, too. Participants in PayScale's salary questionnaire provided the particulars of this report.

$26,018 - $48,612
(Median)
$26K
$35K
$49K
MEDIAN: $34,918
10%
50%
90%

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$11.26 - $21.55
(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
$26,018 - $48,612  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $1,025  
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).
)
$25,267 - $47,483  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 16 May 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 1,227
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
$11.26 - $21.55  
   
Overtime
$1.48 - $29.87  
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 - $1,025  
   
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).
)
$25,267 - $47,483  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 16 May 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 831

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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' salaries may rise greatly for those who assume a higher-end position such as a Clinical Director. The average Clinical Director brings home $70K per year. It is not uncommon for a Substance Abuse Counselor to continue on to become a Certified Drug and Alcohol Addiction Counselor or a Mental Health Counselor.

Substance Abuse Counselor Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Substance Abuse Counselor


Leading companies who hire large numbers of Substance Abuse Counselors include Gateway Foundation, Inc., Colonial Management Group, LLC, CRC Health Group Corporation, The Salvation Army, and Mental Health Systems, Inc. Although The Salvation Army boasts the highest average salary in town at $33K, employee compensation still varies greatly — workers can make as little as $21K or as much as $47K.

Employees of CRC Health Group Corporation can expect to make the least, with the company offering a median salary of $30K; however, pay is widely dispersed from top to bottom, ranging from $22K to $41K.

Popular Skills for Substance Abuse Counselor


Substance Abuse Counselors report using a diverse set of skills on the job. Most notably, skills in Assessment, Group Therapy, Counseling, and Facilitator are correlated to pay that is above average. Skills that seem to negatively impact pay include Diagnosis and Treatment Planning. Most people who know Case Management also know 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. Salaries for the relatively untried average out to around $32K, but survey participants with five to 10 years of experience earn a significantly higher median of $37K. The average pay reported by folks with 10 to 20 years of experience is around $39K. Individuals who report more than two decades of experience seem to make only slightly more than folks in the 10-to-20 year range; the more senior group sees median earnings in the comparatively modest ballpark of $41K.

Pay Difference by Location


For Substance Abuse Counselors, New York provides a pay rate that is 13 percent greater than the national average. Substance Abuse Counselors will also find cushy salaries in Philadelphia (+10 percent), Houston (+10 percent), Baltimore (+5 percent), and Atlanta (+5 percent). The smallest paychecks in the market, 11 percent south of the national average, can be found in Tampa. Below-median salaries also turn up in Columbus and Chicago (9 percent lower).

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.

Related Job Salaries

United States (change)

Experience Affects Substance Abuse Counselor Salaries




National Average
$34,000


Skills That Affect Substance Abuse Counselor Salaries

Assessment
up arrow 12%

Group Therapy
up arrow 2%

Counseling
0%

Facilitator
0%

National Average
$34,000

Case Management
up arrow 1%

Diagnosis and Treatment Planning
up arrow 3%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 368 votes.

Gender

Female
67 %
Male
33 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
6%
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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