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Social workers help people to adjust to difficulties in their lives, providing them with the resources, services and opportunities that can be helpful to making a positive change in their life. There are many different areas of specialization in social work, including that of mental health and substance abuse. While these types of social workers have the same responsibilities of many other types, they aim to help people suffering from issues such as anxiety, depression and other sorts of struggles or even a dependency on alcohol, tobacco or drugs.

A mental health and substance abuse social worker helps point patients in a beneficial direction in treating or managing their illness, such as a 12-step program or specific type of support group. They may fill out paper work for them, refer them to organizations to get help for their mental illness or addition, help them gain admission into an addictions facility or more. Additionally, they provide a consistent source of support to an individual, which may be important to their overall success and recovery.

Responsibilities of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers

The job expectations for mental health and substance abuse social workers can vary, and really depend on the population of clientele they work with and/or their education level. However, on the job they may be expected to:

  • Interview clients and help determine their mental, physical or emotional condition
  • Be familiar with a wide range of mental health conditions and related resources
  • Consult with other professionals about a plan of action
  • Aid clients into getting entry into a substance abuse program, when necessary
  • Make adjustments to treatment plans
  • Handle any crises that arise as a result of a client's particular needs
  • Help clients transition from a treatment center back into regular living

Job Characteristics for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers

While the work environment for mental health and substance abuse social workers can differ, they should be comfortable working with all sorts of people, ranging from various types of professionals to a diverse clientele. On the job, they may need to:

  • Spend much of their time in an office or residential facility
  • Also spend some time traveling to meet clients when it is needed for the job
  • Work with other service providers and participate in meetings
  • Work on the evening or weekend, when necessary
  • Be prepared for days that can be both rewarding and draining
  • Be able to handle heavy caseloads

Skills that can be beneficial to mental health and substance abuse social workers include:

  • Patience
  • Organization and time management
  • Emotional maturity
  • Sensitivity
  • People skills

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker Salary Information

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the following information about mental health and substance abuse social workers nationwide:

  • Total Employed: 109,460, in 2014
  • Employment Growth: 23% growth, from 2012 to 2022
  • Average Salary: $45,820 in 2014

The need for care and treatment for those with mental health and substance abuse issues is expected to increase in upcoming years, particularly as drug abusers are accepted into treatment programs instead of being sent to jail, according to the BLS. Individuals in New Jersey, Connecticut, California, New Hampshire and Maine had the highest mean wages, all above $55,000, as of 2014.

Education, Certification and Licensing for Social Workers

A bachelor's degree is typically the minimum education needed to enter the field. Depending on the scope of the job and the expectations, social workers in mental health and substance abuse may need advanced education, like at the master's level, however. In a degree program, students gain knowledge about:

  • Human behavior
  • Social welfare
  • Working with diverse populations
  • Developing plans to help clients

Certification may be necessary in some states, but the requirements for this vary. Also, the National Association of Social Workers offers a variety of credentials to individuals who are licensed and have a bachelor's or master's degree. These are offered in addictions, case management, healthcare, gerontology, education, military and more.

Licensing may be required when certification is not required or vice versa. However, licensing is almost always required for clinical social workers. These are workers who have a master's degree and work with clients in a clinical setting. Usually, at least 3,000 hours or two years of supervised clinical experience is needed to to seek licensure as a clinical social worker.

Major Employers of Social Workers

  • State and local government agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Local governments
  • Substance abuse treatment centers
  • Family service agencies

Resources for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers

  • National Association of Social Workers
  • Association of Social Work Boards
  • Council on Social Work Education
  • American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work
  • The New Social Worker Careers Magazine

Sources:

  1. Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211023.htm
  2. NASW Professional Social Work Credentials and Advanced Practice Specialty Credentials, National Association of Social Workers. http://www.naswdc.org/credentials/list.asp
  3. Social Workers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Jan. 8, 2014. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm#tab-6

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers Career Information

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers Career Information jobs , as of 2016

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Birmingham 340 $36,130
Hoover 340 $36,130
Tuscaloosa 200 $30,750
Mobile 120 $36,690
Montgomery 90 $60,750
Huntsville 50 $33,890
Decatur 50 $47,390
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 350 $43,750
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Scottsdale 1790 $34,690
Mesa 1790 $34,690
Phoenix 1790 $34,690
Tucson 440 $29,630
Prescott 80 $29,230
Flagstaff 40 $33,590
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 190 $37,950
North Little Rock 190 $37,950
Little Rock 190 $37,950
Jonesboro 50 $55,250
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Long Beach 4370 N/A
Los Angeles 4370 N/A
Anaheim 4370 N/A
San Francisco 2010 $59,400
Oakland 2010 $59,400
Hayward 2010 $59,400
Riverside 1010 $50,040
San Bernardino 1010 $50,040
Ontario 1010 $50,040
Carlsbad 890 $48,560
San Diego 890 $48,560
Sunnyvale 740 $49,830
San Jose 740 $49,830
Santa Clara 740 $49,830
Sacramento 630 $37,490
Arcade 630 $37,490
Roseville 630 $37,490
Arden 630 $37,490
Fresno 440 $45,480
Bakersfield 400 N/A
Vallejo 350 $52,770
Fairfield 350 $52,770
Lodi 270 $30,970
Stockton 270 $30,970
Watsonville 240 $64,120
Santa Cruz 240 $64,120
Napa 170 $75,050
Ventura 160 $40,910
Oxnard 160 $40,910
Thousand Oaks 160 $40,910
Porterville 110 $42,940
Visalia 110 $42,940
Redding 90 $47,340
Corcoran 90 $69,400
Hanford 90 $69,400
El Centro 80 $23,090
Arroyo Grande 70 $87,560
Paso Robles 70 $87,560
San Luis Obispo 70 $87,560
Santa Maria 60 $45,400
Santa Barbara 60 $45,400
Santa Rosa 60 $51,660
Madera 60 $69,410
Modesto 50 $58,960
Salinas 50 $69,400
Chico 40 $37,980
Merced N/A $59,100
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lakewood 1050 $40,260
Denver 1050 $40,260
Aurora 1050 $40,260
Pueblo 230 $42,210
Colorado Springs 150 $38,440
Greeley 50 $46,610
Fort Collins 40 $48,890
Boulder N/A $43,640
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
East Hartford 970 $55,770
West Hartford 970 $55,770
Hartford 970 $55,770
Stamford 440 $58,560
Norwalk 440 $58,560
Bridgeport 440 $58,560
New Haven 250 $54,250
Waterbury 110 $65,690
Danbury 60 $61,380
     
Metro Area (Delaware) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dover 70 $37,790
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Palm Beach 990 $40,130
Miami 990 $40,130
Fort Lauderdale 990 $40,130
Sanford 440 $41,180
Kissimmee 440 $41,180
Orlando 440 $41,180
Clearwater 390 N/A
Tampa 390 N/A
St. Petersburg 390 N/A
Tallahassee 360 $36,060
Port St. Lucie 130 $37,370
Pensacola 110 $30,040
Brent 110 $30,040
Ferry Pass 110 $30,040
Jacksonville 110 $36,000
Gainesville 110 $38,470
Cape Coral 100 $39,410
Fort Myers 100 $39,410
Naples 90 $45,960
Immokalee 90 $45,960
Marco Island 90 $45,960
North Port 50 $37,650
Bradenton 50 $37,650
Sarasota 50 $37,650
Deltona 40 $41,750
Ormond Beach 40 $41,750
Daytona Beach 40 $41,750
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Atlanta 630 $37,080
Roswell 630 $37,080
Sandy Springs 630 $37,080
Savannah 50 $36,730
Macon N/A $96,660
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 420 $53,320
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 250 $37,470
Coeur d'Alene 40 $32,650
Idaho Falls 30 $34,720
Pocatello 30 $50,630
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Peoria 210 $29,010
Champaign 130 $47,280
Urbana 130 $47,280
Springfield 110 $48,300
Bloomington 80 $37,280
Carbondale 60 $19,380
Marion 60 $19,380
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Indianapolis 730 $38,930
Anderson 730 $38,930
Carmel 730 $38,930
Fort Wayne 170 $41,290
Lafayette 80 $30,800
West Lafayette 80 $30,800
Bloomington 30 $39,290
Elkhart 30 $48,920
Goshen 30 $48,920
Columbus N/A $29,770
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Cedar Rapids 120 $40,850
West Des Moines 110 $42,140
Des Moines 110 $42,140
Iowa City 30 $38,830
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 150 $45,240
Topeka 110 $37,740
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lexington 100 $44,130
Fayette 100 $44,130
Owensboro 40 $30,250
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Metairie 260 $37,230
New Orleans 260 $37,230
Lafayette 220 $23,880
Baton Rouge 190 $30,900
Shreveport 170 $39,750
Bossier City 170 $39,750
Monroe 110 $31,110
Alexandria 80 $37,640
Lake Charles 50 $41,900
Houma 40 $43,450
Thibodaux 40 $43,450
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Portland 320 $55,600
South Portland 320 $55,600
Bangor 260 $59,790
Auburn 70 $43,830
Lewiston 70 $43,830
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 1210 $49,410
Columbia 1210 $49,410
Baltimore 1210 $49,410
     
Metro Area (Massachusetts) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Barnstable Town 300 $30,490
Gardner 150 $36,160
Leominster 150 $36,160
Pittsfield 50 $30,590
New Bedford N/A $30,100
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dearborn 1370 $47,510
Detroit 1370 $47,510
Warren 1370 $47,510
Wyoming 570 $50,730
Grand Rapids 570 $50,730
East Lansing 230 $41,830
Lansing 230 $41,830
Portage 220 $36,880
Kalamazoo 220 $36,880
Ann Arbor 150 $46,200
Muskegon 100 $39,840
Jackson 100 $42,190
Saginaw 90 $49,980
Flint 80 $47,920
Bay City 40 $46,930
Benton Harbor 40 $47,650
Niles 40 $47,650
Battle Creek N/A $48,780
     
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
St. Cloud 170 $47,140
Rochester N/A $41,940
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 210 $36,980
Pascagoula 80 $32,000
Gulfport 80 $32,000
Biloxi 80 $32,000
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 740 $23,030
Columbia 90 $35,720
Jefferson City 60 $54,440
Joplin 40 $37,080
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Billings 340 $34,350
Great Falls 40 $37,950
     
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln 130 $37,710
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 490 $56,510
Henderson 490 $56,510
Las Vegas 490 $56,510
Reno 160 $55,820
     
Metro Area (New Hampshire) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Manchester 50 $50,980
     
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Trenton 250 $70,200
Hammonton 100 $45,440
Atlantic City 100 $45,440
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 530 $29,800
Farmington 40 $25,960
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Niagara Falls 660 $46,350
Cheektowaga 660 $46,350
Buffalo 660 $46,350
Rochester 630 $47,780
Albany 460 $48,900
Schenectady 460 $48,900
Troy 460 $48,900
Syracuse 370 $52,300
Utica 230 $69,610
Rome 230 $69,610
Binghamton 150 N/A
Kingston 90 $55,440
Elmira 80 $63,130
Glens Falls 70 $59,420
Ithaca 60 $54,730
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 350 $48,500
Hickory 240 $44,790
Lenoir 240 $44,790
Morganton 240 $44,790
Durham 210 $44,680
Chapel Hill 210 $44,680
Winston 200 $45,940
Salem 200 $45,940
Wilmington 180 $44,490
Asheville 150 $37,170
Goldsboro 110 $44,490
High Point 110 $44,550
Greensboro 110 $44,550
Fayetteville 60 $42,710
Jacksonville 40 $49,650
Rocky Mount 30 $46,690
     
Metro Area (North Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bismarck 120 $49,860
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Elyria 1030 $37,390
Cleveland 1030 $37,390
Columbus 840 $40,060
Toledo 490 $37,100
Akron 440 $38,900
Dayton 240 $38,490
Canton 120 $32,460
Massillon 120 $32,460
Mansfield 80 $30,090
Lima 80 $38,130
Springfield 50 $34,220
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City 510 $31,880
Tulsa 320 $30,050
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salem 510 $48,690
Eugene 230 $32,220
Bend 150 $58,130
Redmond 150 $58,130
Medford N/A $23,210
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 1650 $34,880
Harrisburg 460 $36,370
Carlisle 460 $36,370
Scranton 430 $30,070
Wilkes 430 $30,070
Hazleton 430 $30,070
Barre 430 $30,070
Lancaster 230 $36,340
Reading 160 $34,250
Waynesboro 140 $38,360
Chambersburg 140 $38,360
Altoona 130 $43,470
York 120 $35,540
Hanover 120 $35,540
Erie 90 $32,860
Williamsport 60 $29,060
Gettysburg 50 $41,860
East Stroudsburg 30 $32,600
State College N/A $32,140
Johnstown N/A $34,480
Bloomsburg N/A $38,190
Berwick N/A $38,190
Lebanon N/A $40,610
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Caguas 190 $21,520
Carolina 190 $21,520
San Juan 190 $21,520
Arecibo N/A $18,230
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Mauldin 470 $34,540
Greenville 470 $34,540
Anderson 470 $34,540
Charleston 310 $34,380
North Charleston 310 $34,380
Florence 160 $34,200
Spartanburg 150 $35,210
Beaufort 70 N/A
Hilton Head Island 70 N/A
Bluffton 70 N/A
Columbia N/A $34,020
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sioux Falls 140 $36,000
Rapid City 50 $30,940
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Franklin 500 $30,490
Murfreesboro 500 $30,490
Davidson 500 $30,490
Nashville 500 $30,490
Knoxville 370 $33,300
Jackson 70 $30,490
Johnson City 40 $31,740
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dallas 920 $42,640
Fort Worth 920 $42,640
Arlington 920 $42,640
The Woodlands 650 $44,880
Sugar Land 650 $44,880
Houston 650 $44,880
Austin 350 $42,770
Round Rock 350 $42,770
New Braunfels 230 $35,070
San Antonio 230 $35,070
Corpus Christi 190 $40,760
Abilene 90 $36,930
Victoria 90 $36,980
El Paso 80 $39,670
Bryan 50 $48,390
College Station 50 $48,390
Lubbock 40 $46,800
Laredo 40 $49,180
McAllen N/A $44,590
Mission N/A $44,590
Edinburg N/A $44,590
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 430 $46,120
Clearfield 120 $36,030
Ogden 120 $36,030
St. George N/A $40,300
Orem N/A $52,370
Provo N/A $52,370
     
Metro Area (Vermont) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Burlington 140 $38,840
Burlington 140 $38,840
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 790 $47,040
Roanoke 410 $38,180
Lynchburg 260 $38,760
Charlottesville 140 $36,560
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bellevue 1400 $50,880
Tacoma 1400 $50,880
Seattle 1400 $50,880
Spokane 450 $47,790
Spokane Valley 450 $47,790
Tumwater 50 $41,970
Olympia 50 $41,970
Richland 50 $50,190
Kennewick 50 $50,190
Yakima 40 $55,100
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston N/A $33,310
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Waukesha 360 $49,310
Milwaukee 360 $49,310
West Allis 360 $49,310
Madison 170 $41,670
Green Bay 100 $37,670
Wausau 100 $46,020
Neenah 100 $54,120
Oshkosh 100 $54,120
Eau Claire 90 $42,870
Racine 60 $46,310
Sheboygan 50 $24,390

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers Career Information

To find out more about building a career as Mental Health And Substance Abuse Social Workers, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Most Popular Industries for :
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers Career Information

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Medical Office 33,380 25% $37,650
Social Service 26,750 20% $35,340
Government 22,880 17% $36,370
Nursing And Residential Care 22,270 17% $33,880
Hospital 18,590 14% $45,050
Non-profit 3,530 2% $38,620
Office Services And Staffing 1,330 1% $36,380
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  • MSEd: Mental Health Counseling
  • Several student organizations are present on campus, including Alpha Chi and Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Societies, intramural sports, and a student government association.
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  • Originally founded in 1962 as College of the Southwest.
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  • Bachelor of Arts in Substance Abuse Counseling
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers Career Information.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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