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.
Average Income Overview
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for substance abuse counselors, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors was $51,550 in May 2020 (www.bls.gov). The lowest ten percent of workers earned $30,590 or less, while the top ten percent took in $78,700 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 2020, according to the BLS. The average income for these workers was $49,770 per year. Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities were also popular employers for counselors, who earned an average annual wage of $44,050 as of May 2020, the BLS states. Those working in individual and family services earned an average wage of $52,050.
The BLS reported that business, professional, labor, political, and similar organizations offered the most competitive wages, paying workers an average yearly salary of $70,940 as of May 2020. Counselors working for insurance carriers had a mean annual income of $66,140. Other high-paying industries included child daycare services ($65,620); junior colleges ($65,150); and elementary and secondary schools ($58,670).
Income by Region
If you're interested in popular regions to work as a substance abuse counselor, the BLS stated that California, Pennsylvania and New York held the greatest number of positions in the field. Each of these states had jobs for more than 16,000 counselors as of May 2020. California and Pennsylvania employers offered mean yearly incomes of $56,860 and $48,450, respectively. New York counselors earned an average annual salary of $57,210.
Nevada was the highest-paying state for substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors, with an average annual wage of $68,560. Utah, Alaska, New Jersey, and Oregon were the other top-paying states, with average salaries of $62,250, $61,980, $61,310, and $59,800, respectively. The lowest-paying states offered average wages of $27,870-$44,390, and these areas included Kentucky, West Virginia, Missouri, South Dakota, South Carolina, and Alabama.
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 $29,000-$46,000 per year in June 2021. Most workers with 5-10 years of experience earned $32,000-$55,000 a year. The majority of counselors with 10-20 years of experience received $34,000-$58,000 annually. Most workers with 20 years or more of experience earned $37,000-$61,000.
The BLS reported that substance abuse and behavioral disorder counseling positions were projected to rise by 25% between 2019 and 2029, 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.