Substance Abuse Counselor Salary

Substance Abuse Counselors in the United States can expect only a modest salary, with average pay of just $35K annually. Earnings sit near $25K on the lower side but can approach $48K per year on the higher side. Location is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by career duration and the specific company. Most workers in this position report high levels of job satisfaction. There are more female Substance Abuse Counselors who answered the questionnaire than male, making up 67 percent. Health benefits are not enjoyed by everyone in this line of work, and close to a fourth lack any coverage at all. Medical benefits are reported by a strong majority and dental coverage is claimed by the larger part. This report is based on responses to the PayScale salary survey.

$26,160 - $48,649
(Median)
$26K
$35K
$49K
MEDIAN: $35,064
10%
50%
90%

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$11.30 - $21.66
(Median)
$11
$16
$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
$26,160 - $48,649  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $1,037  
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).
)
$25,359 - $47,739  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 2 Jul 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 1,250
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
$11.30 - $21.66  
   
Overtime
$1.39 - $29.92  
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 - $1,037  
   
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).
)
$25,359 - $47,739  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 2 Jul 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 845
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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 do not often transition into Clinical Director roles. The role averages $70K per year. A more likely transition for Substance Abuse Counselors is Certified Drug and Alcohol Addiction Counselor or Mental Health Counselor.

Substance Abuse Counselor Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Substance Abuse Counselor


Leading companies who hire large numbers of Substance Abuse Counselors include Colonial Management Group, LLC, Gateway Foundation, Inc., CRC Health Group Corporation, The Salvation Army, and Mental Health Systems, Inc. The Salvation Army does shell out the biggest paychecks — the median in that office is $33K — but the company pay scale is greatly mixed, meaning that workers on the low end may earn only $21K while workers on the upper end may rake in up to $47K.

Offering only $30K on average, CRC Health Group Corporation seems to pay the least. Moreover, the pay scale seems pretty narrow there; employees make $22K on the lower end and $41K on the higher end.

Popular Skills for Substance Abuse Counselor


Substance Abuse Counselors report using a pretty varied skill set on the job. Most notably, skills in Assessment, Group Therapy, Counseling, and Facilitator are correlated to pay that is above average. Most people skilled in Case Management are similarly competent in Facilitator.

Pay by Experience Level for Substance Abuse Counselor

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


Substance Abuse Counselors do not generally earn higher incomes from more experience in the field. Salaries of relatively inexperienced workers fall in the neighborhood of $32K, but folks who have racked up five to 10 years see a notably higher median of $37K. Substance Abuse Counselors claiming one to two decades of experience make an estimated median of $40K. Folks who have racked up more than 20 years in the field report incomes that aren't that much higher than less experienced individuals' earnings; the veterans make just $42K on average.

Pay Difference by Location


With a pay rate for Substance Abuse Counselors that is 14 percent greater than the national average, Philadelphia offers a comfortable salary for those in this profession. Substance Abuse Counselors can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like New York (+12 percent), Houston (+9 percent), San Diego (+6 percent), and Atlanta (+4 percent). In Tampa, salaries are 19 percent below the national average and represent the lowest-paying market. Workers in Chicago and Columbus earn salaries that trail the national average for those in this profession (9 percent less).

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

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Experience Affects Substance Abuse Counselor Salaries




National Average
$34,000


Skills That Affect Substance Abuse Counselor Salaries

Assessment
up arrow 11%

Group Therapy
up arrow 4%

Counseling
0%

Facilitator
0%

National Average
$34,000

Case Management
up arrow 1%

Diagnosis and Treatment Planning
up arrow 2%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 347 votes.

Gender

Female
67 %
Male
33 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
7%
1-4 years
51%
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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