Substance Abuse Counselor Salary

Substance Abuse Counselors in the United States can expect only a modest salary, with average pay of just $38K per year. The most influential factor affecting pay for this group is the specific employer, though the particular city and tenure have a (lesser) impact as well. Job satisfaction for Substance Abuse Counselors is high. Female Substance Abuse Counselors are more common than men among those who completed the survey; more than half (67 percent) are women. Health benefits are not enjoyed by everyone in this line of work, and about one in four lack any coverage at all. Medical benefits are reported by the larger part and dental coverage is claimed by the greater part. The data in this summary comes from the PayScale salary survey.

$28,900 - $50,562
$29K
$38K
$51K
MEDIAN: $37,847
10%
50%
90%

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$11.97 - $22.58
$12
$16
$23
MEDIAN: $16.07
10%
50%
90%

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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
$28,900 - $50,562  
   
Bonus
$201.80 - $3,123  
Profit Sharing
$2,750  
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).
)
$26,652 - $49,790  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 25 Mar 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 996
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$12$24$36
Hourly Rate
$11.97 - $22.58  
   
Overtime
$15.26 - $33.75  
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$24K$48K$72K
Bonus
$201.80 - $3,123  
   
Profit Sharing
$2,750  
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).
)
$26,652 - $49,790  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 25 Mar 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 833

Find Out Exactly What You Should Be Paid

United States (change)

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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.

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Substance Abuse Counselor Tasks

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

Common Career Paths for Substance Abuse Counselor


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Though some Substance Abuse Counselors move into positions like Clinical Director (where the average salary is $72K), this progression is not the norm. Substance Abuse Counselors go on to become Certified Addiction Drug and Alcohol Counselors more often than anything even though median pay for the role is $35K. Substance Abuse Counselors who move into a Mental Health Counselor role, another well-traveled path for those in this field, tend to find salaries of $38K.

Substance Abuse Counselor Job Listings

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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 leaders in the field that employ a large number of Substance Abuse Counselors. The Salvation Army offers the largest salaries in town — $44K on average. Other big spenders include Catholic Charities, Hina Mauka, and The Phoenix House, top-paying firms where Substance Abuse Counselors see paychecks nearing $41K, $37K, or $35K.

CRC Health Group Corporation, Pyramid Healthcare, Inc., and Gateway Foundation, Inc. also rank near the bottom for pay, handing out $30K, $31K, and $32K-paychecks on average.

Popular Skills for Substance Abuse Counselor


Survey respondents exploit a significant toolbox of skills in their work. 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 5 percent and 19 percent. Bilingual, on the other hand, is typically associated with much lower pay. Those educated in Case Management tend to be well versed in 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

National Average: $35,940

Larger city markers indicate a job is popular in that location.

With a pay rate for Substance Abuse Counselors that is 20 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 Phoenix (+12 percent), Atlanta (+11 percent), New York (+9 percent), and San Diego (+8 percent). The smallest paychecks in the market, 13 percent south of the national average, can be found in Houston. A couple other locations with smaller-than-average paychecks include Los Angeles and Raleigh (9 percent lower).

Substance Abuse Counselor Reviews

Q: 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.

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.
Cons:

Substance Abuse Counselor in Chicago:
"My Work."
Pros: I can help others, using the skills I have learned, such as CBT, Motivational Interviewing and good documentation skills. I meet many different people, every day is a little different. I have a good bond with my co-workers. I have a lot of independence, as long as I get my job done.
Cons: The lack of income, I need more income at this time, and there are no raises/bonuses given.

Related Job Salaries

Key Stats for Substance Abuse Counselor

Gender

Female
67 %
Male
33 %

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 201 votes.
Less than 1 year
7%
1-4 years
52%
5-9 years
20%
10-19 years
16%
20 years or more
6%
Location:
Years in Fields/Career:
United States (change)

Experience Affects Substance Abuse Counselor Salaries

▲23%

▲15%

▲6%

National Average
$36,000

▼6%

Skills That Affect Substance Abuse Counselor Salaries

Clinical Supervision
▲19%

Oral / Verbal Communication
▲10%




▲1%


▲1%

National Average
$36,000


Assessment
▼1%

Masters degree
▼3%

Bilingual
▼22%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 201 votes.

Gender

Female
67 %
Male
33 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
7%
1-4 years
52%
5-9 years
20%
10-19 years
16%
20 years or more
6%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits
Medical: 68%
dental benefits
Dental: 58%
vision benefits
Vision: 44%
no benefits
None: 27%