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Substance abuse counselors and social workers help people who have problems with drugs and alcohol. They provide counseling to addicts and former addicts. Sometimes they're involved with crisis intervention situations. They also help the family members and friends of addicts whose lives are affected by the addiction. Counselors do not provide psychological therapy, but work under the supervision of physicians, psychologists and social workers.

Substance Abuse And Behavioral Counselors picture    Substance Abuse And Behavioral Counselors image

Substance Abuse Counselor Schools

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 a master's degree. The following five colleges and universities offer bachelor's and master's degrees in psychology, which can prepare a student well for the field of substance abuse counseling and social work:

  • Brescia University: This online college offers a bachelor's of social work degree that prepares students to work with people of diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.
  • Capella University: This university offers an online master's degree in addiction studies. The targeted program provides coursework specialized to the study of addiction, as well as a residency program with a social worker in the field.
  • Southern New Hampshire University: This online Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a concentration in addiction prepares graduates to assist patients with a wide variety of addiction types, from drugs to gambling.
  • The University of Massachusetts: The Boston campus of UMass offers a master's degree in mental health counseling which is delivered primarily online. Field experience with a local agency is a requirement of the program and gives students vital experience in the field.
  • The University of South Dakota: This state school offers an online Bachelor of Science in addiction studies which combines science-based addiction education with real-world experience.

Substance Abuse Counselor Education Requirements

While on-the-job training is often provided, some employers prefer candidates that have a bachelor's degree or higher in psychology, sociology or a related subject, along with two years of counseling in a related field or equivalent life experience. Some substance abuse counselors have a master's degree in mental health counseling. No matter the degree level or type, those studying to work with individuals struggling with substance abuse will study several aspects of social science. Substance abuse counselor education requirements typically include subjects in:

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

In addition to the curriculum, substance abuse counselor schools often provide opportunities for internships or practicums with real counselors and social workers.

Substance Abuse Counselor Training

Substance abuse counselor training, which includes training in drugs and alcohol, as well as crisis intervention, can take two to four years, depending on the degree level. After completing your degree, you will need licensing and/or certification. Note that the criteria varies by state. Licensing may be required when certification is not required or vice versa. However, licensing is almost always required for clinical social workers. Usually, at least 3,000 hours or two years of supervised clinical experience is needed to to seek licensure as a clinical social worker.

The National Board for Certified Counselors offers a general practice credential of National Certified Counselor, as well as a speciality certification in addiction counseling. The national certification is distinct from state licensing.

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, health care, gerontology, education, military and more.

Substance Abuse Counselor Resources

Sources:

  1. Brescia University, http://online.brescia.edu/online-degrees/bachelor-of-social-work-bsw/
  2. Capella University, https://www.capella.edu/online-degrees/masters-addiction-studies/
  3. Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211023.htm
  4. NASW Professional Social Work Credentials and Advanced Practice Specialty Credentials, National Association of Social Workers. http://www.naswdc.org/credentials/list.asp
  5. 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
  6. Southern New Hampshire University, http://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/bachelors/ba-in-psychology/addictions
  7. University of Massachusetts, https://www.umb.edu/academics/caps/degree/mentalhealth
  8. University of South Dakota, http://www.usd.edu/usd-online/online-programs/bachelor-of-science-in-addiction-studies

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Counselors

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Substance Abuse and Behavioral Counselors 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 230 $44,950
Hoover 230 $44,950
Mobile 170 $39,630
Huntsville 110 $32,920
Montgomery 80 $44,130
Florence 30 $31,390
Muscle Shoals 30 $31,390
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 150 $50,100
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Mesa 1640 $40,610
Phoenix 1640 $40,610
Scottsdale 1640 $40,610
Tucson 840 $33,990
Flagstaff 110 $41,150
Prescott 80 $36,200
Yuma 60 $43,170
Kingman 40 $40,560
Lake Havasu City 40 $40,560
Douglas N/A $36,610
Sierra Vista N/A $36,610
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 400 $29,530
North Little Rock 400 $29,530
Little Rock 400 $29,530
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anaheim 2960 $37,140
Long Beach 2960 $37,140
Los Angeles 2960 $37,140
San Francisco 1100 $49,060
Hayward 1100 $49,060
Oakland 1100 $49,060
Carlsbad 800 $38,250
San Diego 800 $38,250
Ontario 640 $42,860
San Bernardino 640 $42,860
Riverside 640 $42,860
Santa Clara 600 $41,450
Sunnyvale 600 $41,450
San Jose 600 $41,450
Sacramento 560 $29,540
Roseville 560 $29,540
Arcade 560 $29,540
Arden 560 $29,540
Bakersfield 210 $40,340
Santa Maria 190 $37,160
Santa Barbara 190 $37,160
Modesto 190 $55,750
Santa Rosa 190 $65,310
Fresno 170 $50,440
Lodi 150 $31,170
Stockton 150 $31,170
Santa Cruz 150 $33,850
Watsonville 150 $33,850
Ventura 120 $41,180
Thousand Oaks 120 $41,180
Oxnard 120 $41,180
Redding 100 N/A
Salinas 80 $31,640
Visalia 70 $30,130
Porterville 70 $30,130
Arroyo Grande 60 $41,700
San Luis Obispo 60 $41,700
Paso Robles 60 $41,700
Hanford 30 $29,270
Corcoran 30 $29,270
Vallejo N/A $41,680
Fairfield N/A $41,680
Chico N/A $48,380
Merced N/A $50,320
Napa N/A $57,100
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lakewood 930 $37,600
Denver 930 $37,600
Aurora 930 $37,600
Colorado Springs 80 $37,880
Boulder 80 $42,900
Pueblo 60 $40,860
Fort Collins N/A $45,430
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
East Hartford 960 $45,730
West Hartford 960 $45,730
Hartford 960 $45,730
New Haven 470 $53,790
Stamford 450 $41,620
Norwalk 450 $41,620
Bridgeport 450 $41,620
Waterbury 240 $53,740
Danbury 100 $40,200
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Palm Beach 1230 $42,950
Fort Lauderdale 1230 $42,950
Miami 1230 $42,950
Tampa 800 $51,940
Clearwater 800 $51,940
St. Petersburg 800 $51,940
Orlando 530 $36,590
Sanford 530 $36,590
Kissimmee 530 $36,590
Tallahassee 170 $41,350
Port St. Lucie 150 $49,570
Palm Bay 140 $40,110
Melbourne 140 $40,110
Titusville 140 $40,110
Crestview 120 $38,170
Fort Walton Beach 120 $38,170
Destin 120 $38,170
Sarasota 110 $53,970
North Port 110 $53,970
Bradenton 110 $53,970
Ferry Pass 80 $40,910
Brent 80 $40,910
Pensacola 80 $40,910
Gainesville 60 $38,580
Cape Coral 60 $58,950
Fort Myers 60 $58,950
Ocala 50 $36,540
Winter Haven 40 $33,730
Lakeland 40 $33,730
Immokalee 30 $73,950
Naples 30 $73,950
Marco Island 30 $73,950
Jacksonville N/A $43,640
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roswell 550 $42,120
Sandy Springs 550 $42,120
Atlanta 550 $42,120
Savannah 40 $38,580
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 210 $39,350
Lahaina 120 $45,940
Wailuku 120 $45,940
Kahului 120 $45,940
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 190 $43,430
Idaho Falls 60 $45,850
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Champaign 130 $35,380
Urbana 130 $35,380
Bloomington 80 $35,000
Peoria 60 $36,320
Marion 40 $33,710
Carbondale 40 $33,710
Springfield N/A $25,650
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Indianapolis 260 $38,590
Anderson 260 $38,590
Carmel 260 $38,590
Goshen 50 $22,650
Elkhart 50 $22,650
Fort Wayne N/A $39,320
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Des Moines 300 $42,070
Des Moines 300 $42,070
Iowa City 140 $51,310
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 300 $30,430
Topeka 160 $34,620
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bowling Green 40 $41,280
Fayette N/A $30,300
Lexington N/A $30,300
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
New Orleans 180 $38,160
Metairie 180 $38,160
Lafayette 110 $36,070
Baton Rouge 70 $39,260
Alexandria 50 $37,830
Shreveport 50 $44,220
Bossier City 50 $44,220
Monroe N/A $45,960
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Portland 80 $44,720
South Portland 80 $44,720
Bangor 70 $52,950
Auburn N/A $36,860
Lewiston N/A $36,860
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 1730 $43,590
Columbia 1730 $43,590
Baltimore 1730 $43,590
     
Metro Area (Massachusetts) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
New Bedford 320 $38,350
Barnstable Town 100 $44,870
Pittsfield N/A $28,750
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Detroit 970 $34,510
Dearborn 970 $34,510
Warren 970 $34,510
Wyoming 120 $45,220
Grand Rapids 120 $45,220
Battle Creek 70 $30,570
Jackson 60 N/A
East Lansing 30 $41,880
Lansing 30 $41,880
Portage N/A $34,630
Kalamazoo N/A $34,630
     
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rochester 170 $46,110
St. Cloud 80 $47,730
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 140 $28,960
Pascagoula 100 $26,440
Biloxi 100 $26,440
Gulfport 100 $26,440
Hattiesburg 40 N/A
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jefferson City 70 $35,250
Joplin 50 $35,400
Springfield N/A $31,410
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Billings 190 $45,900
     
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln 180 $39,440
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 260 $43,550
Henderson 260 $43,550
Las Vegas 260 $43,550
Reno 120 $52,640
     
Metro Area (New Hampshire) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Manchester 50 $44,500
     
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Trenton 310 $50,450
Hammonton 60 $44,990
Atlantic City 60 $44,990
Bridgeton 50 N/A
Vineland 50 N/A
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 320 N/A
Santa Fe 80 $46,070
Farmington 30 $45,520
Las Cruces N/A $46,330
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albany 440 $45,130
Troy 440 $45,130
Schenectady 440 $45,130
Niagara Falls 390 $40,800
Cheektowaga 390 $40,800
Buffalo 390 $40,800
Rochester 310 $41,080
Syracuse 180 $45,610
Rome 110 $37,440
Utica 110 $37,440
Binghamton 90 $41,830
Fort Drum 60 $40,940
Watertown 60 $40,940
Kingston 40 $57,300
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
High Point 210 $44,910
Greensboro 210 $44,910
Asheville 200 $41,210
Chapel Hill 160 $49,080
Durham 160 $49,080
Winston 120 $37,160
Salem 120 $37,160
Raleigh 90 $39,100
Greenville 40 $37,820
Wilmington 40 $53,430
Rocky Mount 30 $53,440
     
Metro Area (North Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bismarck 120 $54,300
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbus 440 $47,150
Cleveland 300 $42,720
Elyria 300 $42,720
Toledo 210 $41,510
Dayton 210 $45,010
Akron 190 $41,930
Canton 50 $38,370
Massillon 50 $38,370
Mansfield 40 $40,360
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Tulsa 350 $47,900
Oklahoma City 230 $38,260
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Eugene 150 $35,790
Salem 120 $46,350
Albany 70 N/A
Redmond 50 $38,260
Bend 50 $38,260
Medford 30 $37,770
Grants Pass N/A $34,730
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 1320 $34,840
Carlisle 390 $38,550
Harrisburg 390 $38,550
Scranton 320 $49,740
Wilkes 320 $49,740
Hazleton 320 $49,740
Barre 320 $49,740
Reading 270 $46,240
Lancaster 260 $29,130
Erie 180 $31,960
Williamsport 90 $36,050
Johnstown 80 $31,620
Hanover 80 $47,330
York 80 $47,330
Gettysburg 50 $27,470
State College 50 $51,340
Altoona N/A $39,630
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Caguas 40 $28,590
Carolina 40 $28,590
San Juan 40 $28,590
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbia 170 $36,140
Anderson 150 $40,200
Mauldin 150 $40,200
Greenville 150 $40,200
Charleston 130 $36,510
North Charleston 130 $36,510
Spartanburg 50 $35,030
Florence 50 $44,460
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sioux Falls 170 $38,930
Rapid City 80 $39,380
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Knoxville 410 $27,310
Franklin 240 $38,860
Murfreesboro 240 $38,860
Davidson 240 $38,860
Nashville 240 $38,860
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fort Worth 810 $38,490
Arlington 810 $38,490
Dallas 810 $38,490
Houston 780 $39,160
Sugar Land 780 $39,160
The Woodlands 780 $39,160
Round Rock 460 $35,610
Austin 460 $35,610
San Antonio 250 $35,230
New Braunfels 250 $35,230
Corpus Christi 180 $36,620
Longview 150 $37,320
Temple 120 $36,180
Killeen 120 $36,180
El Paso 90 $30,130
Beaumont 80 $33,820
Port Arthur 80 $33,820
Midland 40 $34,740
Harlingen 40 $38,290
Brownsville 40 $38,290
Lubbock N/A $32,210
Wichita Falls N/A $44,630
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 340 $39,580
Orem 120 $48,280
Provo 120 $48,280
Ogden 100 $39,220
Clearfield 100 $39,220
St. George N/A $36,430
     
Metro Area (Vermont) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Burlington 80 $42,520
Burlington 80 $42,520
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Blacksburg 180 $35,920
Radford 180 $35,920
Christiansburg 180 $35,920
Roanoke 140 $43,840
Lynchburg 40 $35,630
Richmond N/A $38,280
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Seattle 1590 $36,510
Tacoma 1590 $36,510
Bellevue 1590 $36,510
Yakima 140 $39,500
Mount Vernon 110 $46,150
Anacortes 110 $46,150
Tumwater 70 $43,850
Olympia 70 $43,850
Longview 40 $36,050
Bellingham 40 $42,130
Kennewick N/A $29,300
Richland N/A $29,300
Spokane Valley N/A $36,560
Spokane N/A $36,560
Silverdale N/A $40,170
Bremerton N/A $40,170
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston 60 $30,380
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Waukesha 450 $43,760
West Allis 450 $43,760
Milwaukee 450 $43,760
Madison 340 $63,880
Green Bay 120 $37,130
Racine 70 $37,010
Eau Claire 50 $41,030
Janesville 50 $42,590
Beloit 50 $42,590
Oshkosh 40 $55,670
Neenah 40 $55,670
Appleton N/A $39,220
     
Metro Area (Wyoming) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Casper 30 $45,180

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Counselors

To find out more about building a career as Substance Abuse Counselors, 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 :
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Counselors

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 20,100 25% $36,760
Nursing And Residential Care 17,920 22% $31,390
Social Service 14,160 17% $35,060
Hospital 10,400 13% $43,030
Government 9,800 12% $41,270
Education 4,550 5% $55,170
Non-profit 890 1% $34,060
Click the Visit School Site buttons to go directly to a school's website and learn more about the school and programs it has to offer. School website will open in a new tab.
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  • M.S. in Addiction Counseling
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Rancho Cordova
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Programs
  • Bachelor of Arts in Substance Abuse Counseling
  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
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  • Doctor of Education: Community Care & Counseling: Marriage & Family
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Programs
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Irvine
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Counselors.

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

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