Substance Abuse Counselor Salary
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.
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
- 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
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.
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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
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.
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