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Substance Abuse Counselor Salary

Substance Abuse Counselors in the United States can expect only a modest salary, with average pay of just $35K per year. The pay spectrum stretches from $25K to $47K per year. Career duration is the main element affecting pay for this group — the particular city and the individual firm are driving factors as well. Female Substance Abuse Counselors survey participants are more prevalent than men — 68 percent of professionals. Although a fair number have medical coverage and the greater part have dental coverage, around one in four claim no health benefits at all. Job satisfaction is high and work is enjoyable for most Substance Abuse Counselors. The figures in this overview were provided by individuals who took PayScale's salary questionnaire.

$25,984 - $48,373
(Median)
$26K
$35K
$48K
MEDIAN: $34,853
10%
50%
90%

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$11.21 - $21.54
(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
$25,984 - $48,373  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $1,025  
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).
)
$25,226 - $47,259  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 2 May 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 1,201
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
$11.21 - $21.54  
   
Overtime
$1.41 - $29.91  
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 - $1,025  
   
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).
)
$25,226 - $47,259  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 2 May 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 814

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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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Substance Abuse Counselors who go on to become Clinical Directors may see their salaries climb quite a bit. Median pay for Clinical Directors is $70K annually. A Substance Abuse Counselor may also move into a role as a Certified Drug and Alcohol Addiction Counselor or a Mental Health Counselor.

Substance Abuse Counselor Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Substance Abuse Counselor


Substance Abuse Counselors flock to Gateway Foundation, Inc., Colonial Management Group, LLC, CRC Health Group Corporation, The Salvation Army, and Mental Health Systems, Inc., highly regarded companies that employ a generous number of people in this profession. Employees of The Salvation Army can expect to make the most, with the company offering a median salary of $33K; however, pay is widely dispersed from bottom to top, ranging from $21K to $47K.

Although CRC Health Group Corporation hands out the lowest average salary in town at $30K, employee compensation still varies greatly; workers can make as little as $22K or as much as $41K.

Popular Skills for Substance Abuse Counselor


Substance Abuse Counselors report using a diverse set of skills on the job. Most notably, skills in Assessment, Group Therapy, Counseling, and Facilitator are correlated to pay that is above average. Skills that pay less than market rate include Diagnosis and Treatment Planning. 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.


For Substance Abuse Counselors, experience does not seem to be a major factor in determining pay. Workers in their first five years can expect to earn $32K, but people who have been around for five to 10 years earn a noticeably bigger sum of $37K. Substance Abuse Counselors see a median salary of $39K after reaching one to two decades on the job. Veterans who have worked for more than two decades do tend to make the most in the end; the median pay for this group is $42K.

Pay Difference by Location


Surpassing the national average by 12 percent, Substance Abuse Counselors in New York receive some of the highest pay in the country. Substance Abuse Counselors will also find cushy salaries in Philadelphia (+11 percent), Houston (+10 percent), Charlotte (+7 percent), and Atlanta (+5 percent). In Tampa, salaries are 11 percent below the national average and represent the lowest-paying market. Employers also pay below the national average in Columbus and Chicago (9 percent lower).

Substance Abuse Counselor Reviews

What is it like working as a Substance Abuse Counselor?

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.

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 12%

Group Therapy
up arrow 1%

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 370 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: 57%
vision benefits Vision: 42% employee benefits None: 26%
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