What Are Some Career Options for a Substance Abuse Counselor?

Many different agencies, community groups, healthcare organizations, and non-profit groups offer treatment programs for substance abuse. The following article provides examples of a few specific career options for a substance abuse counselor. Schools offering Addiction Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Substance abuse counselors treat patients in a variety of settings. They are employed by hospitals, in-patient or out-patient therapy centers, prisons, substance abuse treatment centers, welfare agencies, governmental agencies, the military, halfway houses, and homeless shelters. In each of these settings, the substance abuse counselor is responsible for programs that help individuals with substance abuse problems. Counselors may provide their services in a group or individual therapy session. Counselors sometimes work with family members of the patient. The following are three employment opportunities for substance abuse counselors.

Important Facts about this Occupation

Median Pay (2018)$44,630 (for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)23% increase in employment is expected, much faster than average (for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors)
Entry-Level EducationRequirements vary across different states; typically, the minimum requirement is a high school diploma and a certification in the field. Higher levels of education enable counselors to work under less supervision. To begin a private practice, you must have a license which requires a master's degree and clinical experience.
Similar OccupationsMental Health Counselors, Psychologists, Marriage Therapists, Rehabilitation Counselors, Social Workers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Substance abuse counselors are employed by the Navy, Marines, and other armed forces to work in their treatment centers. These counselors provide treatment for patients and develop educational programming to prevent substance abuse in the military. They also screen patients to determine their fitness for active duty.

Social Services Agency

In a social services agency, such as an organization providing family services to those in need, the substance abuse counselor provides counseling services to community members. Duties also include providing educational programs for the community to prevent substance abuse.

Department of Health

For governmental agencies, such as departments of health, substance abuse counselors may be assigned to a specific population, such as adolescents. They might provide prevention education, drug screening, interventions, and referral services. The counselor might work in conjunction with school districts in the community to educate adolescents or provide counsel to those suspected of needing treatment.

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

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next »