Pay for Substance Abuse Counselors in the United States is very modest at just $38K per year. Location is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by the company and tenure. Not all workers are lucky enough to have benefits; in fact, approximately one in four are without coverage. Medical insurance is claimed by a majority and dental insurance is reported by the larger part. Most Substance Abuse Counselors report high levels of job satisfaction. The majority of Substance Abuse Counselors (67 percent) who took the survey are female. This report is based on responses to the PayScale salary survey.

$28,647 - $50,634
$29K
$38K
$51K
MEDIAN: $37,712
10%
50%
90%

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$11.98 - $22.49
$12
$16
$22
MEDIAN: $16.00
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
$28,647 - $50,634  
   
Bonus
$197.74 - $3,034  
Profit Sharing
$2,543  
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).
)
$26,553 - $49,718  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 18 Jan 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 1,039
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
$11.98 - $22.49  
   
Overtime
$15.29 - $33.72  
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
$197.74 - $3,034  
   
Profit Sharing
$2,543  
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).
)
$26,553 - $49,718  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 18 Jan 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 873

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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Though not the most common occurrence, Substance Abuse Counselors sometimes become Clinical Directors, where the average income is $71K per year. Going from Substance Abuse Counselor to Certified Drug and Alcohol Addiction Counselor is the transition that occurs most often in this field, and the average paycheck for Certified Addiction Drug and Alcohol Counselors is $35K. Many others choose to work as Mental Health Counselors, where pay is typically $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, Behavioral Health Group, Gateway Foundation, Inc., and Mental Health Systems, Inc. are some prominent firms with considerable interest in employing a large team of Substance Abuse Counselors. The Salvation Army leads the field in terms of pay, with a median salary of $40K. Other leaders in compensation levels are Hina Mauka at $37K, The Phoenix House at $35K, and Acadia, Inc., where Substance Abuse Counselors annually earn $35K.

CRC Health Group Corporation, Pyramid Healthcare, Inc., and Gateway Foundation, Inc. also scrape the bottom of the pay scale, with median earnings hovering around $30K, $31K, and $32K.

Popular Skills for Substance Abuse Counselor


Substance Abuse Counselors report using a deep pool of skills on the job. 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 6 percent and 19 percent. Bilingual, on the other hand, is typically associated with much lower pay. The majority of those 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. Salaries of relatively inexperienced workers fall in the neighborhood of $34K, but folks who have racked up five to 10 years see a notably higher median of $38K. After working for 10 to 20 years, Substance Abuse Counselors make a median salary of $41K. 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 $44K.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $35,876

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

With a pay rate for Substance Abuse Counselors that is 22 percent greater than the national average, Minneapolis offers a comfortable salary for those in this profession. Substance Abuse Counselors will also find cushy salaries in Philadelphia (+21 percent), Atlanta (+18 percent), Phoenix (+11 percent), and San Diego (+8 percent). In Houston, salaries are 15 percent below the national average and represent the lowest-paying market. Raleigh and Los Angeles are a couple other places where companies are known to pay below the median — salaries tend to be 9 percent less than the median.

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 215 votes.
Less than 1 year
7%
1-4 years
52%
5-9 years
19%
10-19 years
16%
20 years or more
6%
Location:
Years in Fields/Career:
United States (change)

Experience Affects Substance Abuse Counselor Salaries




National Average
$36,000


Skills That Affect Substance Abuse Counselor Salaries

Clinical Supervision
up arrow 19%

Oral / Verbal Communication
up arrow 10%






Counseling
0%

Assessment
0%

National Average
$36,000


Masters degree
up arrow 3%

Bilingual
up arrow 22%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 215 votes.

Gender

Female
67 %
Male
33 %

Years of Experience

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

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits
Medical: 69%
dental benefits
Dental: 59%
vision benefits
Vision: 44%
dental benefits
None: 27%
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