Certified Addictions Counselor: Job Duties, Career Outlook, and Educational Requirements

Research what it takes to become a certified addictions counselor. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Addiction Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Certified Addiction Counselor Do?

Addictions counselors help individuals overcome their dependence on drugs, alcohol, gambling, eating disorders, and other destructive habits. In order to do this, they help patients modify behaviors through treatment. Counselors must be skilled in assessment, therapy, and communication in order to be effective. Through these methods they teach individuals to better handle stress, repair relationships, and stabilize their lives. Review the table below to learn more about this career and the options it affords:

Degree RequiredBachelor's degree
Education Field of StudyAddictions Counseling
Key ResponsibilitiesEvaluate individuals for addiction problems requiring treatment
Provide individual, group and family counseling for addiction problems
Determine progress and readiness for termination
Maintain records in accordance with local laws and regulations
CertificationCertification required; 3 levels of certification exist
Job Growth (2014-2024)22%*
Median Salary (2015)$39,980*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties of a Certified Addictions Counselor

Your primary duty as an addictions counselor is to help patients defeat their dependence on drugs, alcohol, gambling, eating disorders or any other destructive habits. By counseling patients one-on-one and in group settings, you can help them establish healthy lifestyles by identifying behaviors and triggers related to their addictions. Part of your approach may involve creating personalized recovery plans for clients and using the plans to document their progress. You may also work with family and friends who have been affected by the habits of their loved ones as well as conducting addiction prevention programs.

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors are estimated grow by 22% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). Increased awareness of available addiction treatments may be responsible for the growing demand for your skills and services. Most addictions counselors worked in outpatient centers, and the median salary for this profession was $39,980, as reported by the BLS in May 2015.

Educational Requirements

State education requirements for addictions counselors can vary considerably. While a bachelor's degree is the most common requirement, many states require master's degrees in counseling while other states will accept high school diplomas along with the appropriate certification. As a student in an addictions counseling master's degree program, you may complete coursework in human development, group counseling, individual treatment, addictions recovery, ethics, family systems, case management and mental health.

You may also seek three levels of certification through the Association for Addiction Professionals to demonstrate your competency and help your chances of career advancement. The three levels are the National Certified Addictions Counselor - Levels I and II and the Master Addictions Counselor. The combination of work, education and experience requirements varies for each certification level. You'll also need to pass an examination and meet continuing education requirements for each counselor certification (www.naadac.org).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are counselors in many other areas other than addiction, such as mental health or family counseling. Those interested in venturing further into the field of medicine can become physiologists, physicians, or registered nurses, but this usually requires additional education. School counselors and social workers often use the same skill sets with counseling but for different issues in different environments.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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