What Is the Average Income of a Substance Abuse Counselor?

Substance abuse counselors treat people with various addictions to alcohol and drugs. Read on to find out how your salary will depend on your employer, your geographic location and your experience. Schools offering Addiction Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Average Income Overview

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for substance abuse counselors and behavioral disorder counselors was $41,870 in May 2014 (www.bls.gov). The lowest ten percent of workers earned $25,310 or less, while the top ten percent took in $61,420 or more per year. Your specific salary will vary based on your employer, region and work experience.

Important Facts About Substance Abuse Counselors

Required Education High school diploma, or equivalent; but, most positions require at least a bachelor's degree
Licensure Mandatory for all private practice counselors, and requirements vary by state; prerequisites provided by the National Board of Certified Counselors
Key Skills Close listening, clear communication, empathy, organization, problem solving, critical thinking, reading comprehension, good judgment and decision making
Similar Occupations Psychologists; rehabilitation counselors; school and career counselors; social and community service managers; social workers; mental health counselors and marriage and family counselors

Income by Employer

Outpatient care centers were the largest employer of substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors in May 2014, according to the BLS. The average income for these workers was $40,800 per year. Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities were also popular employers for counselors, who earned an average annual wage of $37,730 as of May 2014, the BLS states. Those working in individual and family services earned an average wage of $40,330.

The BLS reported that junior colleges offered the most competitive wages, paying workers an average yearly salary of $63,860 as of May 2014. Counselors working in educational support services had a mean annual income of $56,150. Other high-paying industries included colleges, universities and professional schools ($53,110), insurance carriers ($52,090) and elementary and secondary schools ($53,920).

Income by Region

If you're interested in popular regions to work as a substance abuse counselor, the BLS stated that Pennsylvania, California and New York held the greatest number of positions in the field. Each of these states had jobs for more than 7,000 counselors as of May 2014. Pennsylvania and California employers offered mean yearly incomes of $41,320 and $38,860, respectively. New York counselors earned a higher average annual salary of $46,020.

The District of Columbia was the highest-paying state for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, with an average annual wage of $51,930. Alaska, New Jersey, North Dakota and New Hampshire were the other top-paying states, with average salaries of $50,660, $49,370, $49,350 and $47,950, respectively. The lowest-paying states offered average wages of $27,250-$38,350, and these areas included Illinois, West Virginia, Texas, Missouri, Utah, Louisiana and Tennessee.

Income by Experience

Your level of experience can impact your salary. According to PayScale.com, most substance abuse counselors with 0-5 years of experience made $24,646-$43,728 per year in September 2015. Most workers with 5-10 years of experience earned $28,095-$49,330 a year. The majority of counselors with 10-20 years of experience received $30,220-$54,765 annually. Most workers with 20 years or more of experience earned $31,358-$61,007.

Job Outlook

The BLS reported that substance abuse and behavioral disorder counseling positions were projected to rise 22% between 2014 and 2024, which was much greater than the average for other employment sectors. There should be favorable prospects for individuals who have the necessary training and experience for this career.

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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  • Capella University

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  • Walden University

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  • Grand Canyon University

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  • Colorado Christian University

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  • Saint Leo University

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  • Regent University

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  • Northcentral University

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