Substance Abuse Counselor Salary
Substance Abuse Counselors in the United States can expect only a modest salary, with average pay of just $38K per year. The most influential factor affecting pay for this group is the specific employer, though the particular city and tenure have a (lesser) impact as well. Job satisfaction for Substance Abuse Counselors is high. Female Substance Abuse Counselors are more common than men among those who completed the survey; more than half (67 percent) are women. Health benefits are not enjoyed by everyone in this line of work, and about one in four lack any coverage at all. Medical benefits are reported by the larger part and dental coverage is claimed by the greater part. The data in this summary comes from the PayScale salary survey.
|Salary||$28,900 - $50,562|
|Bonus||$201.80 - $3,123|
|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).)
|$26,652 - $49,790|
|Hourly Rate||$11.97 - $22.58|
|Overtime||$15.26 - $33.75|
|Bonus||$201.80 - $3,123|
|Total Pay (||$26,652 - $49,790|
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.Read More...
Generally, substance abuse counselors perform evaluations for patients and develop a personalized plan for recovery; over the course of counseling, this plan may change depending on the patient's needs and progress. The counselor should have a large network of connections to things such as community services and medical providers so that clients can be referred to these services as necessary. It may also be essential to work with the patient’s medical providers with the patient’s permission. All activities performed with patients should be well documented and in compliance with patient confidentiality laws.
A master’s degree in social work, counseling or a related field is often needed for substance abuse counselor positions. Previous experience is often required or preferred as well. Usually, the substance abuse counselor is required to be certified, possessing one or more certifications such as licensed clinical addiction counselor, licensed mental health counselor and licensed clinical social worker.
Substance Abuse Counselor Tasks
- Develop individual intervention, treatment and recovery plans.
- Perform substance abuse or other disorder evaluations for patients.
- Manage caseload and documentation.
- Gather information about patients using interviews, case histories, observations and assessments.
- Facilitate and lead group and education sessions.
Common Career Paths for Substance Abuse Counselor
Though some Substance Abuse Counselors move into positions like Clinical Director (where the average salary is $72K), this progression is not the norm. Substance Abuse Counselors go on to become Certified Addiction Drug and Alcohol Counselors more often than anything even though median pay for the role is $35K. Substance Abuse Counselors who move into a Mental Health Counselor role, another well-traveled path for those in this field, tend to find salaries of $38K.
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 leaders in the field that employ a large number of Substance Abuse Counselors. The Salvation Army offers the largest salaries in town — $44K on average. Other big spenders include Catholic Charities, Hina Mauka, and The Phoenix House, top-paying firms where Substance Abuse Counselors see paychecks nearing $41K, $37K, or $35K.
CRC Health Group Corporation, Pyramid Healthcare, Inc., and Gateway Foundation, Inc. also rank near the bottom for pay, handing out $30K, $31K, and $32K-paychecks on average.
Popular Skills for Substance Abuse Counselor
Survey respondents exploit a significant toolbox of skills in their work. 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 5 percent and 19 percent. Bilingual, on the other hand, is typically associated with much lower pay. Those educated in Case Management tend to be well versed in 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
With a pay rate for Substance Abuse Counselors that is 20 percent greater than the national average, Philadelphia offers a comfortable salary for those in this profession. Substance Abuse Counselors will also find cushy salaries in Phoenix (+12 percent), Atlanta (+11 percent), New York (+9 percent), and San Diego (+8 percent). The smallest paychecks in the market, 13 percent south of the national average, can be found in Houston. A couple other locations with smaller-than-average paychecks include Los Angeles and Raleigh (9 percent lower).
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