Substance Abuse Counselor Job Description & Career Outlook

The job of a substance abuse counselor is to work with individuals in various stages of the recovery process from addiction to drugs and/or alcohol.

The substance abuse counselor evaluates each individual client to see where that individual falls in his/her personal recovery. Many of their clients are court referrals following charges of impaired driving or possession of a controlled substance. The counselor completes and evaluation which may include written tests, drug screens, and talk therapy. Once the evaluation is complete, the counselor then makes recommendations for the course of treatment required to assist the individual in learning to cope with his/her addiction. Some individuals may require an educational program only; however, others may require intense intervention which may include detox or inpatient treatment. The substance abuse counselor follows the individuals progress while he/she is in the program recommended by the counselor. Treatment provided may include education, one-on-one counseling, group counseling and referrals for further intervention.

Find a School

How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor

To become a Substance Abuse Counselor, most states require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and supervised experience working with individuals who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. The supervised experience must occur under a licensed counselor. Many states require a minimum of a master’s degree and licensure in order to work as a substance abuse counselor. Check with your state for full requirements.

Substance Abuse Counselor Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median salary of $38,520 per year for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors.1 Individual salary can depend on the agency/entity in which he/she performs the duties of an SA counselor.

Find a School

Substance Abuse Counselor Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 31% growth in employment for substance abuse and behavioral counselors for the decade from 2012-2022, which is much faster than average. The nation’s substance abuse problems influence demand for qualified substance abuse counselors. Because there are many different agencies/entities that employ substance abuse counselors, individuals can focus on a particular aspect of substance abuse when seeking employment (e.g. school counseling, prison counseling, hospitals, etc.).

Substance Abuse/Addiction and Counseling Degree Programs

Matching School Ads
request information

Walden University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Ph.D. in Social Work - Addictions and Social Work
  • M.S. in Addiction Counseling - Addictions and Public Health
  • M.S. in School Counseling - Crisis and Trauma

request information

Post University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • M.S. in Human Services - Drug and Alcohol Counseling
  • M.S. in Human Services - Clinical Counseling
  • B.S. in Human Services / Counseling

request information

Grand Canyon University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • B.S. in Counseling with an Emphasis in Addiction, Chemical Dependency, and Substance Abuse
  • M.S. in Addiction Counseling
  • M.S. in Christian Counseling

request information

Liberty University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • MA Human Services:  Addictions and Recovery
  • PhD in Counseling - Professional Counseling
  • PhD Counseling: Advanced Clinical Skills

request information

Capella University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • MS - Addiction Counseling
  • MS - Counseling Psychology
  • PhD - Counselor Education and Supervision

request information

University of Phoenix
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • M.S. in Psychology/Industrial- Organizational Psychology
  • A.A. in Psychology
  • M.S. in Psychology/Behavioral Health

request information

Florida Tech University Online
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Associate of Arts in Applied Psychology
  • Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology


Related Careers

Interested in a career similar to a substance abuse counselor? Check out these related careers:

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-and-behavioral-disorder-counselors.htm

Page Edited by Charles Sipe.