Substance Abuse Counselor Salary

What is a substance abuse counselor?

Also known as behavioral disorder counselors, substance abuse counselors work with individuals suffering from alcoholism, addictions, eating disorders and similar behavioral problems. They may help develop a treatment plan for these individuals or work with their families to develop coping strategies.

Substance abuse counselors provide services similar to those offered by mental health counselors, social workers and psychologists although their education and licensing requirements may differ.

What is a substance abuse counselor's salary?

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov) the 2012 median annual income for these professionals was slightly higher than the median annual income for all occupations.

Job TitleBottom 10% Annual WageAnnual Median WageTop 10% Annual Wage
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors-U.S.$25860$39980$63030
Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Is it difficult to find a job as a substance abuse counselor?

Bls.gov estimates indicate that from 2012 through 2022 the career is expected to grow much faster than other occupations, including other community and social services occupations.

Growth in the field is expected to be fueled in part by federal health reform which now mandates health insurance plans cover substance abuse treatment services. Counselors will also be in demand as courts increasingly require treatment for substance abuse offenders.

Job TitleProjected 2012-2022 Growth
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors-U.S.22.3%
Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Is there room for advancement as a substance abuse counselor?

Substance abuse counselors may be able to advance to supervisory roles. Bls.gov notes this career has a high rate of turnover, which may help more create job openings.

Do substance abuse counselors need to be licensed or certified?

To work in private practice, bls.gov reports that substance abuse counselors must licensed. Although each state determines its own licensure requirements, bls.gov says that licensed substance abuse counselors normally have at least a master's degree as well as between 2,000-4,000 hours of supervised, clinical work. The licensing exam is administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. State requirements may differ for counselors working outside a private practice.

The National Board for Certified Counselors offers three specialty certifications in addition to the National Certified Counselor designation. These include a Master Addictions Counselor in addition to certifications for mental health and school counselors. The National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals also maintains a separate credentialing program. Its certifications include National Certified Addiction Counselor (Levels I and II) and Master Addiction Counselor.

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors, Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012,

National Board for Certified Counselors, Understanding NBCC's National Certifications,

The National Association for Addiction Professionals, Guide to NCCAP Credentials,

Substance Abuse Counselor Schools