Drug Abuse Counselor: Education and Career Facts

Find out about education programs and certification options to begin your career as a drug abuse counselor. Get information about employment outlook as well as median salary. Schools offering Addiction Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

If you're an aspiring drug abuse counselor, educational programs are available at various levels, including the advanced or professional certificate, associate's degree, bachelor's degree, graduate certificate and master's degree levels. These programs may be available in drug abuse counseling, addiction studies or substance abuse counseling.

Education Certificate, associate's, bachelor's and graduate certificate and graduate degree levels
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 23% (much faster than average; for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors)
Median Salary (2017)* $43,300 (for substance abuse, mental health and behavioral disorder counselors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Drug Abuse Counselor Education Programs Are Available?

Advanced and professional certificate programs may be available at the undergraduate level, meaning they don't technically require any prior postsecondary education, but they are typically designed for professionals already working in the field who wish to make a change in their career path. Through an associate's degree program, you can study the fundamentals of the field to either prepare to continue your education at the bachelor's degree level or to become qualified to become a practicing counselor, such as a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor.

A bachelor's degree program in substance abuse counseling can focus on more varied and advanced topics, and can qualify you for a higher level of certification in your state. These programs include more fieldwork hours through practicum and internship experiences. Graduate certificate and master's degree programs can be offered in conjunction with related subjects, like clinical counseling and mental health studies, and can qualify you for state certification in areas like clinical addiction and substance abuse. Online options for substance abuse education may be rare, but could be available at the bachelor's degree level. In some cases, a master's degree program could allow you to complete some coursework in an online format.

How Do I Become Certified for a Career in Counseling?

Requirements to become a licensed or certified substance abuse counselor will vary widely both by level and by requirements of the state you live in. In some cases, completion of a postsecondary program is not strictly necessary, and students can gain state certification by completing a minimum amount of educational and work experience hours. States typically offer substance abuse counseling certification at multiple levels, and you'll commonly need to complete an associate's degree, bachelor's degree, graduate certificate or master's degree program to qualify for higher levels of certification.

Though certification as a substance abuse counselor is voluntary in some cases, a higher level of certification could help you prove a greater level of competency in the field and allow you advance your career. Voluntary certification in substance abuse at the national level, through an organization such as the National Board for Certified Counselors, could allow you to support academic or work experience with additional credentials. National certification could also be useful to you if you plan to practice in multiple states.

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Doctoral
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    • Bachelor Degrees

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  • Purdue University Global

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  • Colorado Christian University

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    Popular programs at Colorado Christian University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

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  • Southern New Hampshire University

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  • Keiser University

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    Popular programs at Keiser University:

    • Associate Programs

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  • New England College

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    Popular programs at New England College:

    • Bachelor Degrees

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  • Independence University

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    Popular programs at Independence University:

    • Master

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  • Penn Foster High School

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  • Regent University

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    Popular programs at Regent University:

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  • Herzing University

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