Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor: Salary and Career Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as a certified chemical dependency counselor. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and licensure information. Schools offering Addiction Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor?

A certified chemical dependency counselor is a substance abuse counselor who has fulfilled the requirements for certification. Their work involves meeting with patients individually or in groups. Their patients are those who struggle with addictions to substances such as prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs. They work with these individuals to help them understand their addictions, recognize things in their life that may cause them to want to use these substances, and develop strategies to live an addiction-free life. Their ultimate objective is to help addicts manage their addiction so that they do not continue to use these substances.

Check out the table below for more information about this career option.

Degree RequiredVaries by state from a high school diploma or GED up to a master's degree
Education Field of StudyCounseling
Substance Abuse Counseling
Key ResponsibilitiesAssess individuals for chemical dependency
Develop individualized treatment plans
Provide chemical dependency treatment to individuals, groups and family members
Licensure/CertificationLicensure is required for counselors in private practice; for other counselors, licensure and/or certification may be required, depending on the state in which they work
Job Growth (2018-2028)22% for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors*
Median Salary (2018)$44,630 for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Do As a Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor?

A certified chemical dependency counselor helps treat addictions and their impact on individual clients, their families, friends and workplaces. There is a growing need for counselors to work with youth in schools, social service agencies and treatment centers. These counselors conduct group meetings and educate youth and their families about prevention. Your goal would be to help your patients change destructive behaviors and lead them toward a more positive lifestyle.

As a certified chemical dependency counselor, you would work under the supervision of doctors, psychologists and social workers. Much of your work would involve updating patient treatment records, documenting assessments, and medication in addition to conducting sessions.

Do I Need a Degree?

Licensure and certification requirements for chemical dependency counselors vary by state, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that you might only need a high school diploma and certification to practice in some states (www.bls.gov). In general, you need to complete a certain number of educational hours, usually through an approved program, and log a set number of supervised practice hours to qualify for state certification or licensure. Some facilities may also offer you on-the-job training, and an internship is often required.

To meet these guidelines, you can find many certificate and associate's degree programs that are designed to meet your state's chemical dependency counselor regulations. These programs can take as little as nine months or up to two years. If you pursue a bachelor's or master's degree in counseling or psychology, you may be able to become certified for substance abuse counseling through the National Board for Certified Counselors.

What Salary Can I Expect?

The BLS cited the median annual wage for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors at $44,630, as of May 2018. Most made between $34,950 and $57,580. The BLS predicted a growth rate of 22% for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors between 2018 and 2028, which is considerably faster than average for most fields. Criminal offenders are increasingly being mandated to treatment rather than sentenced to jail time, helping to increase demand for qualified substance abuse counselors, the BLS reported.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Certified chemical dependency counselors perform the same types of duties that counselors and therapists perform, so there are a number of professions that are very similar to this career. Social workers, marriage and family therapists, behavioral disorder counselors and mental health counselors all meet with individual clients or meet with groups of patients. They all work to help these patients identify issues that are impacting their lives, and help them develop strategies to cope with or resolve their issues. Social workers and behavioral disorder counselors need a bachelor's or master's degree. Marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors need a master's degree. All counselors, social workers and therapists need to fulfill their state's licensing requirements to work in their career field.

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