Substance Abuse Counselor Salary
Substance Abuse Counselors in the United States are not likely to strike it rich; they only make around $37K annually on average. Residence is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by career length and the specific company. Most workers in this position report high levels of job satisfaction. While some workers in this profession — around one in four — do not have any health coverage, the larger part do receive medical benefits and more than half have dental insurance. Female Substance Abuse Counselors survey participants are more prevalent than men — 68 percent of professionals. This report is based on responses to the PayScale salary survey.
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.Read More...
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
- 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
Though it's uncommon, some Substance Abuse Counselors move into roles as Clinical Directors, where pay is an average $71K per year. Given that the median pay is $35K, it may be surprising to find that a Certified Drug and Alcohol Addiction Counselor is the most common role for Substance Abuse Counselors to subsequently assume on their way up the ladder. Transitioning into a Mental Health Counselor role — which pays $38K — is also typical for Substance Abuse Counselors, though less common by comparison.
Substance Abuse Counselor Job Listings
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Popular Employer Salaries for Substance Abuse Counselor
Dominating the field, Colonial Management Group, LLC, CRC Health Group Corporation, Behavioral Health Group, Mental Health Systems, Inc., and Gateway Foundation, Inc. are top firms with a reputation for hiring a great number of Substance Abuse Counselors. Substance Abuse Counselors flock to Hina Mauka for generous paychecks, where average earnings of $37K lead the pack in compensation. Other leaders in compensation levels are The Phoenix House at $35K, The Salvation Army at $35K, and Turning Point, Inc., where Substance Abuse Counselors annually earn $33K.
Also sliding in at the lower end of the scale are CRC Health Group Corporation ($30K), Pyramid Healthcare, Inc. ($31K), and Gateway Foundation, Inc. ($31K).
Popular Skills for Substance Abuse Counselor
Survey results imply that Substance Abuse Counselors deploy a substantial tool kit of skills at work. Most notably, skills in Clinical Supervision, Oral / Verbal Communication, Patient Counseling, and Assessment are correlated to pay that is above average. Bilingual and Writing Procedures & Documentation 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
Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.
More years of relevant experience do not necessarily translate to higher paychecks. Relatively untried employees who have less than five years' experience make $34K, but folks with five to 10 years under their belts enjoy an appreciably larger median of $38K. After working for 10 to 20 years, Substance Abuse Counselors make a median salary of $41K. Survey participants who have spent more than 20 years on the job report a predictably higher median income of $44K, demonstrating that compensation is roughly commensurate with experience in the end.
Pay Difference by Location
Home to some of the best pay for Substance Abuse Counselors, Minneapolis offers exceptional salaries, 22 percent above the national average. Substance Abuse Counselors can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Atlanta (+17 percent), Phoenix (+9 percent), San Diego (+9 percent), and Philadelphia (+7 percent). The smallest paychecks in the market, 14 percent south of the national average, can be found in Houston. Employers pay around 8 percent less in Raleigh and 6 percent less in Los Angeles, below-median salaries for those in this field.