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How Much Do Addiction Counselors Make An Hour

Work Environment About This Section

Substance Abuse Counselor Salary | How Much You Can Make! | ADCS Institute

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors held about 327,500 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors were as follows:

Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers 18%
Government 9

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors work in a wide variety of settings, including mental health centers, prisons, probation or parole agencies, and juvenile detention facilities. They also work in halfway houses, detox centers, or in employee assistance programs . EAPs are mental health programs provided by some employers to help employees deal with personal problems.

Some addiction counselors work in residential treatment centers, where clients live in the facility for a fixed period of time. Others work with clients in outpatient treatment centers. Some counselors work in private practice, where they may work alone or with a group of counselors or other professionals.

Although rewarding, the work of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is often stressful. Many counselors have to deal with large workloads. They do not always have enough resources to meet the demand for their services. Also, they may have to intervene in crisis situations or work with agitated clients, which can be difficult.

How Do I Increase My Salary

Much like any other industry, certain factors may influence an addiction counselors salary. Of course, much depends on the employer and the job itself. Some common salary boosters include:

  • Experience. Those in the addiction treatment industry longer tend to receive higher wages
  • Education. Relevant, high-level education often bring a higher salary with it
  • Track-record. Excellence in addiction counseling with a proven track record can offer a counselor a leg up in salary negotiations. If you have exceptional performance reports, you may wish to talk about them
  • Affiliations. The associations you participate in and are a part of can show how you are connected to the community and your profession
  • Personality. The addiction treatment industry is driven by personalities and how they mesh, or conflict. Personality traits including ability to listen, thinking on your feet, working hard and more are all highly desirable

One of the goals of The Academy for Addiction Professionals is to offer potential counselors the opportunity to rise to the top of the employment ladder and earn the highest salary possible. By advancing their careers through continued education in the field, soon to be addiction counselors are positioning themselves to take advantage of the significant growth in todays addiction counselor industry.

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What Substance Abuse Behavioral Disorder And Mental Health Counselors Do About This Section

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors advise people who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, mental health issues, or other mental or behavioral problems. They provide treatment and support to help clients recover from addiction or modify problem behaviors.

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How Do Substance Abuse Counselor Salaries Compare

Counseling Career

The salary, information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

Substance Abuse Counselor Job Outlook

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Employment for substance abuse counselors is projected to rise by 23 percent, or 23,800 new jobs, through 2026, the BLS reports. Several factors will contribute to the increased demand:

  • More states are making a push to provide counseling and treatment to drug offenders rather than sentence them to jail time or prison.
  • The continued fight against prescription pain relievers and other drugs, including heroin and fentanyl. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that the economic burden of prescription opioid abuse is more than $78.5 billionannually.
  • Improved access to treatment centers and recovery services for drug abusers.

Job prospects are expected to be best for substance abuse counselors with bachelors and masters degrees, the BLS notes. Although advances in pain management practices, new research into pain and addiction, and the production of non-addictive medications and technologies could eventually ease demand for substance abuse counselors, these developments are in their early stages and have not had any significant impact on the nations need for trained substance abusecounselors.

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Drug Counselor Education Requirements

According to the BLS and O*Net Online, educational requirements for drug counselors vary by state as well as by the types of services that the counselor provides. Some drug counselors hold advanced degrees and professional licensure while others may only hold a high school diploma or GED. Required education and licensing depend on state regulations as well as the degree of supervision under which the counselor practices.

The level of education required to become a drug counselor is set by state licensing boards and often depends on the type of counseling provided, as well as the level of supervision that the counselor must have while practicing. According the the BLS, all drug counselors who operate a private practice in offering counseling must hold at least a masters degree and professional licensing as a mental health professional.

Substance abuse counselors who work in institutional settings under the supervision of mental health or medical professionals, on the other hand, arent held to such strict credentialing standards. Degree options vary, with some counselors holding associate or bachelors degrees. Some counselors may be able to obtain certification or licensure without earning a degree after completing college-level courses specified by state rules.

What Is A Substance Abuse Counselor

A drug and alcohol abuse counselor is a person with experience in providing treatment to clients who want to learn how to reduce or remove their unhealthy dependence on destructive substances and behaviors. Counselors work with individuals, families, couples, and groups to share a variety of techniques and treatments for coping with problems in ways other than turning to unhealthy substances.

People abuse alcohol or drugs for a myriad of reasons, often as a way to deal with stress and problems in their lives. A person doesnt have to be addicted to a substance to be abusing it. Substance abuse is similar to addiction in that a person enjoys the mind-altering effects, whether physical, emotional, or psychological. When abusing, a person may spend less time going to work or school or being social, since stress in those areas of life can be the trigger that leads to addictive behavior. Counseling a person who is dealing with substance abuse, before it becomes dependence or addiction, requires treatment and a recovery plan, but generally on a lesser scale than if the condition moves to full-blown addiction.

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Explore Masters In Counseling Salary And Job Growth Statistics

If you are considering becoming a counselor, you have a number decisions ahead of you, among them: What program will you choose? Which specialty will you pursue? What type of workplace environment do you prefer?

The answers to these questions will inform your lifes workand your earning potentialas a counselor. Most individuals pursue a career in counseling because they are compelled to help others through lifes challenges, but counselors have to eat, too. As you consider your options for graduate-level counseling education, you should also review salary outcomes and job growth potential across specialties.

Here, we cover median salary, job growth, and highest-paying industries for some of the most common counseling specialties as well as how to increase your earning potential as a counselor.

The Substance Abuse Counselor Job Outlook Is Positive


Substance abuse counseling is one of the fastest-growing occupations in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 23% increase from 2016-2026 due to a rise in people seeking addiction and mental health counseling services, as well as states seeking treatment and counseling services instead of jail time for drug offenders.

Dr. Donald Posson, who teaches several of the courses within National Universitys undergraduate certificate in alcohol and drug abuse counseling program, has been in the addictions and mental health field for over twenty years those job projection numbers dont surprise him. Thats not even taking into account the need thats coming with the opioid crisis, he says. We havent even begun to deal with the counseling aspect of that or identified how were going to deal with it or resource it. Over the next five to ten years its going to require many more therapists than we currently have in the pipeline.

Dr. Posson notes that across the professional spectrum in California, only about 10 percent of therapists currently have experience in substance abuse counseling. Individuals seeking counseling and therapy are finding it difficult to find the trained professionals they need to help them conquer negative habits.

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What Does An Addiction Counselor Do

An addiction counselor first comes in during the intervention stage or sooner. Its his or her job to asses the addiction issue and determines any other circumstances that might aid in the addiction and recovery. Because every addicts situation is different, its the counselors job to help implement a unique treatment plan designed for each individual addict.

The level of addiction, a persons age, the family or support system that they have, the type of drugs theyre addicted to, and any legal requirements are all taken into consideration when putting together a plan. A counselor might implement a plan through one of the following:

  • Individual Therapy Services
  • Group Therapy Services
  • Treatment Classes

Each method has its own benefits and a counselor will help decide which one is best for each addict.

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How Much Does A Child Counsellor Earn Uk

Psychotherapist trainees can earn £30,401 to £37,267 . Qualified child and adolescent psychotherapists can expect salaries in the region of £37,570 to £43,772 . Principal psychotherapists will be paid at Band 8 of the NHS pay scale, starting at £44,606 and rising to £86,687 for the most senior posts.

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Substance Abuse Counselor Education And Job Training

In some states, you can work as a substance abuse counselor, sometimes called a technician, trainee, or assistant, with a high school diploma if you are working under the direct supervision of a licensed counselor. However, it is more common for states to require licensure based on at least some formal training in alcohol and drug counseling, be that a certificate or degree program. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of substance abuse counselor degree programs that can help you meet these requirements.

If you already have an associates or bachelors degree, but not a substance abuse counseling degree, you can typically qualify for licensure as an addiction counselor by completing a certificate program. A masters degree is another option that can help you launch a career in this field. Be sure to check your states requirementsbefore committing to a program.

Should I Get A Masters In Addiction Counseling

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A masters degree in addiction counseling can lead to a rewarding career in a growing industry. Graduates can pursue addiction or mental health counseling positions, licensure, or a doctoral degree. Counseling professionals enjoy the personal rewards of helping individuals, families, and entire communities while also benefiting from strong salaries and growth potential.

The BLS projects 25% job growth in the field between 2019 and 2029, more than six times faster than the projected growth rate for all occupations. Graduates with a masters degree in addiction counseling and licensure can access some of the most desirable and lucrative positions in the field.

Counseling professionals enjoy the personal rewards of helping individuals, families, and entire communities while also benefiting from strong salaries and growth potential.

Earning a masters degree in addiction counseling can prove challenging, as these programs typically require two years of study, extensive research, and significant clinical components. Professionals who wish to earn licensure must complete substantial postgraduate clinical requirements, which often include 3,000-5,000 supervised hours.

Once eligible, candidates must pass an examination to earn licensure. They then need to maintain their license by completing a certain number of continuing education credits every 2-3 years.

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Drug Counselor Job Growth Trend

According to the BLS, employment figures for substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors is expected to increase by 22 percent from 2018 to 2028. Job prospects are considered to be very good, in part because of job turnover, but also due to the fact that there is increased demand for counselors to work with individuals who have been involved with the criminal justice system.


School Counselor Salary And Projected Job Growth

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median annual salary of $56,310 per year in 2018 for school and career counselors. Employment in this field is expected to grow 23 percent through 2026, which is much faster than average compared to all occupations.3 School enrollment through 2027 is projected to increase 3 percent, driving the need for school counselors.4

The top-paying industries for school, educational, guidance and vocational counselors are:5

  • Federal executive branch: $71,690 annual mean wage
  • Computer systems design: $70,990 annual mean wage
  • Elementary and secondary schools: $66,910 annual mean wage
  • General medical and surgical hospitals: $69,170 annual mean wage
  • Office administrative services: $65,110 annual mean wage

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Counseling Psychologist Salary Information

One of the best data sources for psychologist salary information is the Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS. This official government source states the median salary for all psychologists was $79,000 in 2018. The top 10% earned $129,200, which generally requires a Psychology doctoral degree and many years of counseling work experience. For counseling psychologists, the reported salary is $76,990.

Also, median annual salaries for all psychologists were:

  • All other psychologists: $100,700
  • Elementary and secondary schools: $75,800

APA reports the median salary for all psychologists in a 2015 survey was $85,000. Counseling psychologists also had a median salary of $85,000. Psychologists with a Ph.D. had an $85,000 salary, while holders of a Psy.D. earned a median of $75,000.

APA also states that psychologists in professional services earn $85,000, while those in research positions earn $95,000. Psychologists in management positions earn $110,000. reports the average salary for counseling psychologists is $56,774, with a range of $34,000 to $88,000.

This website also states the following differences in pay for counseling psychologists by city:

  • Los Angeles: +23% June, 2020

National Certification Commission For Addiction Professionals

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Thisorganization offers three levels of certification: national certified addiction counselor, level I national certified addiction counselor, level II and master addiction counselor. Each level hasits own set of eligibility requirements.

NCCAP also offers specialized certifications, such as nicotine dependence, adolescent addiction, or peer recovery support. NCCAP requires a $235 application fee and a $200 application renewal fee.

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Licenses Certifications And Registrations

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors in private practice must be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state, but all states require these counselors to have a masters degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. In addition, counselors must pass a state-issued exam and complete continuing education every year. Contact information for your states regulating board can be found through the National Board for Certified Counselors.

The licensure criteria for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors outside of private practice vary from state to state. For example, not all states require applicants to have a specific degree, but many require them to pass an exam. Contact information for individual states licensing boards can be found through the Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network.

All states require mental health counselors to be licensed, after completing a period of postdegree supervised clinical work under the supervision of a licensed counselor.

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The above statistics reflect national averages. Salaries can vary greatly depending on your location, the size of the company or organization, years of expertise and the responsibilities of the position, among other factors.

For the greatest level of control over your income, you may want to consider going into private practice. As Anthony Centore, private practice consultant for the American Counseling Association, wrote, Ive found that with hard work and good planning, earning an income of $100,000 per year in private practice is an obtainable goal.7

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S To Become A Substance Abuse Counselor

The following list outlines general steps for how to become a substance abuse counselor, but readers should note that requirements vary by state.


    All states require substance abuse counselors to hold a high school diploma or higher. While in high school, aspiring counselors can prepare for their careers by volunteering with crisis centers, community organizations, or faith communities.


    In most states, counselling or psychology degrees qualify graduates to become substance abuse counselors. However, each state determines its minimum required education level. Most states require at least a bachelors degree.


    These requirements can include supervised work hours or state-specific training. The Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network provides a list of state requirements. Substance abuse counselors who work in private practice must hold licensure with the National Board for Certified Counselors.


    Counseling professionals can advance their careers by pursuing certification as adolescent addictions counselors, peer recovery support specialists, or master addictions counselors.

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