Substance Abuse Counselor Salary

It's impossible to make it big as a Substance Abuse Counselors in the United States; the average employee scrapes together only around $38K per year. The most important factor affecting compensation for this group is the specific employer, followed by the particular city and experience level. Job satisfaction is reported as high by the vast majority of workers. Unfortunately, some people in this line of work are without benefits — nearly one in four lack coverage. On the flip side, a majority have medical insurance and the larger part receive dental plans. Respondents to the PayScale salary survey provided the data for this report.

$29,055 - $51,119
$29K
$38K
$51K
MEDIAN: $38,216
10%
50%
90%

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$12.17 - $22.40
$12
$16
$22
MEDIAN: $16.42
10%
50%
90%

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$0$51K
Salary $29,055 - $51,119
Bonus $196.53 - $4,345
Profit Sharing $2,500
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).
)
$27,385 - $50,217
  • Country: United States
  • Currency: USD
  • Updated: 11 Jul 2017
  • Individuals Reporting: 1,037
Hourly Data $0$33
Hourly Rate $12.17 - $22.40
Overtime $16.22 - $33.46
Annual Data $0$50K
Bonus $196.53 - $4,345
Profit Sharing $2,500
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).
)
$27,385 - $50,217
  • Country: United States
  • Currency: USD
  • Updated: 11 Jul 2017
  • Individuals Reporting: 909

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

  • 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 who advance into the role of a Clinical Director are fairly uncommon. Clinical Directors on average earn $72K per year. The most common promotion for Substance Abuse Counselors is a Certified Drug and Alcohol Addiction Counselor position, which usually brings in $35K a year. Another standard transition for Substance Abuse Counselors seeking advancement is to assume a Mental Health Counselor role, where pay is often $38K.

Substance Abuse Counselor Job Listings

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 top-notch employers for Substance Abuse Counselors in this area. The biggest paychecks can be found at The Salvation Army — the median salary there is $44K. Other employers shelling out big bucks include Catholic Charities, Hina Mauka, and The Phoenix House, where Substance Abuse Counselors typically earn around $41K, $37K, or $35K, respectively.

Workers at CRC Health Group Corporation, Pyramid Healthcare, Inc., and Gateway Foundation, Inc. also face smaller salaries than the rest of the field — average earnings for these employers come to $30K, $31K, and $32K respectively.

Popular Skills for Substance Abuse Counselor


Survey takers working as Substance Abuse Counselors report using a large range of professional skills. 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 4 percent and 17 percent. Bilingual and Masters degree as skills, however, tend to be associated with significantly smaller paychecks. Most people familiar with Case Management also know 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: $36,389

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

Surpassing the national average by 18 percent, Substance Abuse Counselors in Philadelphia receive some of the highest pay in the country. Substance Abuse Counselors will also find cushy salaries in Phoenix (+11 percent), Atlanta (+9 percent), New York (+7 percent), and San Diego (+6 percent). Trailing the national average by 14 percent, Houston is the market with the smallest paychecks. Workers in Los Angeles and Raleigh earn less than others in this profession; their salaries fall short of the national average by 10 percent.

Substance Abuse Counselor Reviews

Q: What is it like working as a Substance Abuse Counselor?

Substance Abuse Counselor in Indio:
"Hopefulness."
Pros: I enjoy helping addicts on their roar to recovery.
Cons: Not enough time working with addicts, to much paper work .

Substance Abuse Counselor in Paramus:
Pros: Helping people is the best thing about the job. As well as the pay.
Cons: The hospital is very understaffed when it comes to the counselors. Because of that most of us are extremely overworked. I work every weekend as well which I hate.

Substance Abuse Counselor in Lompoc:
"It's unpredictable and challenging in more than one way."
Pros: I like the freedom to be creative.
Cons: Poor management leadership, stressfull job, dealing with difficult rude clients at times, doing Med call, and detox Med call.

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 El Centro:
Pros: Being able to help people change.
Cons: None.

Related Job Salaries

Key Stats for Substance Abuse Counselor

Gender

Female
69 %
Male
31 %

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 241 votes.
Less than 1 year
6%
1-4 years
51%
5-9 years
21%
10-19 years
16%
20 years or more
6%
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Location:
Years in Fields/Career:
United States (change)

Experience Affects Substance Abuse Counselor Salaries

▲21%

▲13%

▲4%

National Average
$36,000

▼7%

Skills That Affect Substance Abuse Counselor Salaries

Clinical Supervision
▲17%

Oral / Verbal Communication
▲9%





National Average
$36,000

▼1%

▼1%


Assessment
▼2%

Masters degree
▼4%

Bilingual
▼23%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 241 votes.

Gender

Female
69 %
Male
31 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
6%
1-4 years
51%
5-9 years
21%
10-19 years
16%
20 years or more
6%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits
Medical: 69%
dental benefits
Dental: 59%
vision benefits
Vision: 46%
no benefits
None: 27%
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