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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. Compensation ranges between $25K and $47K per year. The most influential factor affecting pay for this group is experience level, though the particular city and the particular employer have a (lesser) impact as well. Women make up the majority of Substance Abuse Counselors (68 percent) who completed the questionnaire. Although roughly a fourth lack health benefits of any kind, a fair number do enjoy medical insurance, and the larger part get dental coverage, too. Most workers in this position report high levels of job satisfaction. This snapshot results from replies to PayScale's salary survey.

$26,073 - $48,551
(Median)
$26K
$35K
$49K
MEDIAN: $34,753
10%
50%
90%

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$11.10 - $21.52
(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
$26,073 - $48,551  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $1,023  
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).
)
$25,182 - $47,301  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 1 Apr 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 1,186
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
$11.10 - $21.52  
   
Overtime
$1.05 - $29.84  
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 - $1,023  
   
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).
)
$25,182 - $47,301  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 1 Apr 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 816

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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 it's uncommon, some Substance Abuse Counselors move into roles as Clinical Services Directors, where pay is an average $70K per year. More often, however, Substance Abuse Counselors go on to become Certified Addiction Drug and Alcohol Counselors or Mental Health Counselors.

Substance Abuse Counselor Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Substance Abuse Counselor


Gateway Foundation, Inc., Colonial Management Group, LLC, CRC Health Group Corporation, The Salvation Army, and Mental Health Systems, Inc. are leaders in the field that employ a large number of Substance Abuse Counselors. The biggest paychecks can be found at Mental Health Systems, Inc. — the median salary there is $33K.

While select CRC Health Group Corporation employees may bring in up to $41K, a median salary of only $30K — the lowest in the field — suggests a serious lag in the earnings department.

Popular Skills for Substance Abuse Counselor


Substance Abuse Counselors seem to require a number of specific skills. Most notably, skills in Assessment, Group Therapy, Facilitator, and Counseling are correlated to pay that is above average. Skills that seem to negatively impact pay include Diagnosis and Treatment Planning. It is often found that people who know Case Management are also skilled in Facilitator.

Pay by Experience Level for Substance Abuse Counselor

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


Experience does not seem to be a strong driver of pay increase in this role. 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. Substance Abuse Counselors with one to two decades of relevant experience report an average salary of approximately $39K. More than 20 years of experience mean a somewhat bigger median paycheck of $42K, but it's not much more than what less experienced people make.

Pay Difference by Location


For Substance Abuse Counselors, working in the bustling city of New York has its advantages, including an above-average pay rate. Substance Abuse Counselors will also find cushy salaries in Philadelphia (+9 percent), Houston (+8 percent), Charlotte (+6 percent), and Baltimore (+5 percent). Tampa is the lowest-paying area, 9 percent south of the national average. Two other places where employers salaries are below the median are Columbus and Los Angeles (9 percent lower).

Substance Abuse Counselor Reviews

What is it like working as a Substance Abuse Counselor?

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.

Substance Abuse Counselor in Westminster:
"Changing Lives."
Pros: Working in this field is very rewarding. I have the opportunity to effect peoples live in a positive way. I have the opportunity to be apart of that individual getting their life back and also their families.
Cons: It can be emotionally draining. This is why it is imperative to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally and physically.

What is it like working as a Substance Abuse Counselor at The Salvation Army?

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

United States (change)

Experience Affects Substance Abuse Counselor Salaries




National Average
$34,000


Skills That Affect Substance Abuse Counselor Salaries

Assessment
up arrow 13%

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 393 votes.

Gender

Female
68 %
Male
32 %

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: 56%
vision benefits Vision: 42% employee benefits None: 26%