Substance Abuse Counselor

Some schools offer the option to specialize in substance abuse, preparing graduates to help people who suffer from alcohol and substance abuse addictions. These counselors are often found working at community shelters, non-profit organizations, hospitals, government agencies, and sometimes, in private practice. Not all schools offer this credential; therefore, it’s important to find a college or university that offers the training necessary to qualify for employment.

Required Training and Qualifications

If you want to work as a substance abuse counselor, you will need specific training and the right credentials. First, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree, or possibly a master’s degree, in social work or a related field. Additionally, once you’ve earned your degree, you’ll most likely need to take a series of courses that will train you to help clients who suffer from addiction disorders as well as individuals with tobacco or other problems, such as gambling and eating disorders. You’ll learn how to provide the proper services and therapy strategies to help those you serve. For example, you’ll learn how to run individual and group sessions, determine what programs are available to help clients get healthy, and what other resources and programs are out there for additional support.

Salary and Job Outlook Statistics

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors earned a mean annual wage of $40,920 in May of 2012. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that salaries vary depending on where you work, including setting and geographic location. If you decide to go into private practice, you might earn more since you’ll set your own rate for services. The BLS also reports that employment of substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors is “projected to grow 31 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth is expected as addiction and mental health counseling services are increasingly covered by insurance policies.”

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