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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 $34K annually. Compensation ranges between $25K and $47K per year. Career length is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by geography and the individual firm. Job satisfaction for Substance Abuse Counselors is high. 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 roughly a fourth lack any coverage at all. Medical benefits are reported by a strong majority and dental coverage is claimed by more than half. The numbers in this rundown were provided by PayScale's salary survey participants.
$25,899 - $48,477
(Median)
26K
34K
40K
48K
MEDIAN: $34,341
10%
50%
75%
90%

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$10.85 - $21.32
(Median)
11
13
15
19
21
MEDIAN: $15.00
10%
25%
50%
75%
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
$25,899 - $48,477  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $1,025  
Profit Sharing
$491.32 - $4,000  
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).
)
$24,922 - $47,198  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 11 Dec 2014 | Individuals Reporting: 1,129
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
$10.85 - $21.32  
   
Overtime
$1.39 - $29.54  
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 - $4,000  
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).
)
$24,922 - $47,198  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 11 Dec 2014 | Individuals Reporting: 774
United States (change)

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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It's not very common for Substance Abuse Counselors to move on to become Clinical Services Directors. Average pay for a Clinical Services Director is $70K annually. More commonly, Substance Abuse Counselors 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


Although Colonial Management Group, LLC boasts the highest average salary in town at $35K, employee compensation still varies greatly — workers can make as little as $27K or as much as $49K.

Offering a median of only $30K, CRC Health Group Corporation pays the least. Moreover, the compensation range seems pretty narrow; employees make $22K on the lower end and $41K on the higher end.

Popular Skills for Substance Abuse Counselor


Job skills reported by Substance Abuse Counselors are limited. Most notably, skills in Counseling, Facilitator, Case Management, and Group Therapy are correlated to pay that is above average. At the other end of the pay range are skills like Group Therapy. 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.


For many Substance Abuse Counselors, extensive experience does not lead to significantly more money. Those in the early stages of their career can expect to make around $31K; however, individuals with five to 10 years of experience bring in $37K on average — a distinctly larger sum. On average, Substance Abuse Counselors make $39K following one to two decades on the job. After two decades in the workforce, the average Substance Abuse Counselor generally earns more than ever; median pay for this group is estimated at $42K.

Pay Difference by Location


Home to some of the best pay for Substance Abuse Counselors, New York offers exceptional salaries, 17 percent above the national average. Substance Abuse Counselors can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Houston (+12 percent), Philadelphia (+7 percent), Baltimore (+6 percent), and Newark (+4 percent). In Los Angeles, salaries are 11 percent below the national average and represent the lowest-paying market. Employers in Chicago and Tampa also lean toward paying below-median salaries (9 percent lower and 7 percent lower, respectively).

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

Experience Affects Substance Abuse Counselor Salaries




National Average
$34,000


Skills That Affect Substance Abuse Counselor Salaries

Counseling
up arrow 1%

Facilitator
up arrow 1%

National Average
$34,000

Case Management
up arrow 1%

Group Therapy
up arrow 6%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 406 votes.

Gender

Female
67 %
Male
33 %

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: 70% dental benefits Dental: 56%
vision benefits Vision: 41% employee benefits None: 27%