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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 2015

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Birmingham 150 $46,590
Hoover 150 $46,590
Mobile 120 $40,940
Huntsville 90 $31,790
Montgomery 80 $41,600
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 120 $43,730
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Scottsdale 1620 $40,700
Mesa 1620 $40,700
Phoenix 1620 $40,700
Tucson 820 $32,770
Flagstaff 110 N/A
Yuma 70 $41,480
Prescott 70 $46,100
Lake Havasu City 50 $39,950
Kingman 50 $39,950
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 320 $31,380
North Little Rock 320 $31,380
Little Rock 320 $31,380
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anaheim 3110 $34,880
Long Beach 3110 $34,880
Los Angeles 3110 $34,880
Oakland 810 $40,880
San Francisco 810 $40,880
Hayward 810 $40,880
Carlsbad 650 $37,580
San Diego 650 $37,580
Ontario 650 $40,250
San Bernardino 650 $40,250
Riverside 650 $40,250
Santa Clara 530 $33,940
Sunnyvale 530 $33,940
San Jose 530 $33,940
Roseville 430 $31,620
Arden 430 $31,620
Arcade 430 $31,620
Sacramento 430 $31,620
Santa Barbara 210 $38,860
Santa Maria 210 $38,860
Watsonville 190 $34,600
Santa Cruz 190 $34,600
Salinas 180 $40,310
Bakersfield 170 $38,920
Fresno 150 $50,980
Porterville 140 $24,660
Visalia 140 $24,660
Redding 130 $33,260
Oxnard 130 $40,290
Thousand Oaks 130 $40,290
Ventura 130 $40,290
Stockton 120 N/A
Lodi 120 N/A
Chico 110 $53,340
Santa Rosa 100 $49,630
Yuba City 40 $35,280
Paso Robles 30 $46,870
Arroyo Grande 30 $46,870
San Luis Obispo 30 $46,870
Vallejo N/A $39,540
Fairfield N/A $39,540
Modesto N/A $54,170
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lakewood 600 $45,570
Aurora 600 $45,570
Denver 600 $45,570
Fort Collins 150 $34,750
Colorado Springs 50 $34,710
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
East Hartford 850 $46,780
West Hartford 850 $46,780
Hartford 850 $46,780
New Haven 720 $46,340
Stamford 420 $41,710
Bridgeport 420 $41,710
Norwalk 420 $41,710
Waterbury 220 $52,580
Danbury 70 $38,560
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Miami 1540 $45,520
Fort Lauderdale 1540 $45,520
West Palm Beach 1540 $45,520
St. Petersburg 800 $50,920
Tampa 800 $50,920
Clearwater 800 $50,920
Jacksonville 440 $39,650
Sanford 310 $39,030
Orlando 310 $39,030
Kissimmee 310 $39,030
Port St. Lucie 210 $44,570
Tallahassee 160 $42,240
Destin 110 $37,230
Fort Walton Beach 110 $37,230
Crestview 110 $37,230
Palm Bay 100 $36,260
Titusville 100 $36,260
Melbourne 100 $36,260
Ocala 70 $35,510
Cape Coral 60 $56,220
Fort Myers 60 $56,220
Sarasota 50 $44,890
North Port 50 $44,890
Bradenton 50 $44,890
Gainesville 40 N/A
Winter Haven 30 $32,090
Lakeland 30 $32,090
Ferry Pass N/A $34,570
Pensacola N/A $34,570
Brent N/A $34,570
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roswell 660 $40,710
Sandy Springs 660 $40,710
Atlanta 660 $40,710
Macon N/A $27,170
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 230 $39,010
Lahaina 190 $43,990
Wailuku 190 $43,990
Kahului 190 $43,990
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 240 $41,020
Coeur d'Alene 50 $42,220
Pocatello N/A $41,620
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Champaign 90 $34,960
Urbana 90 $34,960
Peoria 50 $38,090
Rockford 40 $37,580
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anderson 280 $37,060
Indianapolis 280 $37,060
Carmel 280 $37,060
Fort Wayne 60 $40,920
Muncie 50 $30,400
Goshen 50 $33,640
Elkhart 50 $33,640
Bloomington 50 $45,470
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Des Moines 210 $41,830
West Des Moines 210 $41,830
Iowa City 120 $51,740
Cedar Rapids 90 $44,850
Dubuque 70 $30,530
Cedar Falls 50 $46,950
Waterloo 50 $46,950
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 280 $30,550
Topeka 110 $39,610
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fayette 210 $32,300
Lexington 210 $32,300
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Metairie 270 $31,490
New Orleans 270 $31,490
Lafayette 120 $38,410
Baton Rouge 60 $37,000
Alexandria 50 $35,380
Shreveport 50 $43,200
Bossier City 50 $43,200
Lake Charles N/A $23,660
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Portland 60 $43,510
Portland 60 $43,510
Bangor 40 $37,510
Auburn N/A $34,380
Lewiston N/A $34,380
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Baltimore 1540 $41,970
Towson 1540 $41,970
Columbia 1540 $41,970
Lexington Park 30 $52,550
California 30 $52,550
     
Metro Area (Massachusetts) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
New Bedford 480 $41,740
Barnstable Town 60 $38,360
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Warren 680 $35,820
Detroit 680 $35,820
Dearborn 680 $35,820
Grand Rapids 120 $51,040
Wyoming 120 $51,040
Saginaw 70 $24,350
Lansing 40 $45,270
East Lansing 40 $45,270
Portage N/A $35,970
Kalamazoo N/A $35,970
Ann Arbor N/A $66,580
     
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
St. Cloud 130 $52,120
Rochester N/A $44,960
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 110 $28,320
Gulfport 100 $27,180
Pascagoula 100 $27,180
Biloxi 100 $27,180
Hattiesburg 50 $24,810
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jefferson City 80 $34,990
Springfield N/A $30,200
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Billings 170 $45,240
     
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln 170 $38,120
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 310 $43,660
Henderson 310 $43,660
Las Vegas 310 $43,660
Reno 90 $47,220
     
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Trenton 280 $50,400
Hammonton 90 $42,110
Atlantic City 90 $42,110
Bridgeton 90 $46,470
Vineland 90 $46,470
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 180 N/A
Santa Fe 120 $38,700
Las Cruces 50 $40,800
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albany 460 $44,100
Troy 460 $44,100
Schenectady 460 $44,100
Rochester 360 $39,550
Cheektowaga 360 $40,780
Niagara Falls 360 $40,780
Buffalo 360 $40,780
Syracuse 230 $43,510
Watertown 140 $36,310
Fort Drum 140 $36,310
Rome 90 $40,500
Utica 90 $40,500
Kingston 80 $39,220
Binghamton 70 $43,910
Glens Falls 30 $48,900
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 230 $44,660
High Point 200 $44,140
Greensboro 200 $44,140
Salem 110 $36,150
Winston 110 $36,150
Durham 110 $47,570
Chapel Hill 110 $47,570
Asheville 100 $43,850
Goldsboro 70 $32,380
Fayetteville 60 $30,090
Wilmington 50 $52,460
Greenville 30 $37,090
     
Metro Area (North Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bismarck 100 $51,400
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbus 460 $45,610
Elyria 300 $40,930
Cleveland 300 $40,930
Dayton 220 $44,650
Akron 180 $38,030
Canton 80 $42,550
Massillon 80 $42,550
Toledo N/A $43,050
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Tulsa 460 $42,510
Oklahoma City 150 $38,570
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salem 120 $45,900
Eugene 100 $34,640
Redmond 40 $36,870
Bend 40 $36,870
Medford 40 $38,350
Grants Pass N/A $34,080
Albany N/A $55,850
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 1660 $34,680
Harrisburg 320 $37,240
Carlisle 320 $37,240
Wilkes 320 $43,820
Barre 320 $43,820
Scranton 320 $43,820
Hazleton 320 $43,820
Reading 280 $47,000
Erie 240 $32,640
Hanover 130 $41,640
York 130 $41,640
Lancaster 100 $46,440
Johnstown 70 $40,980
Williamsport 50 $35,160
State College 50 $43,890
Altoona N/A $36,890
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Caguas 40 $21,520
Carolina 40 $21,520
San Juan 40 $21,520
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbia 180 $37,650
Anderson 130 $39,760
Mauldin 130 $39,760
Greenville 130 $39,760
North Charleston 110 $36,940
Charleston 110 $36,940
Florence 40 $43,690
Spartanburg 30 $48,570
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sioux Falls 190 $37,330
Rapid City 110 $38,870
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Knoxville 450 $27,810
Franklin 310 $39,160
Murfreesboro 310 $39,160
Nashville 310 $39,160
Davidson 310 $39,160
Jackson 50 $44,400
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Arlington 980 $42,010
Dallas 980 $42,010
Fort Worth 980 $42,010
The Woodlands 920 $37,560
Sugar Land 920 $37,560
Houston 920 $37,560
Austin 390 $36,530
Round Rock 390 $36,530
San Antonio 160 $36,960
New Braunfels 160 $36,960
Longview 150 $36,310
El Paso 140 $28,860
Temple 100 $35,750
Killeen 100 $35,750
Corpus Christi 90 $41,350
Beaumont 80 $32,010
Port Arthur 80 $32,010
Lubbock 50 $41,680
Wichita Falls 40 $43,700
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 250 $40,840
Orem 110 $44,820
Provo 110 $44,820
Clearfield N/A $36,300
Ogden N/A $36,300
     
Metro Area (Vermont) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Burlington 90 $44,500
Burlington 90 $44,500
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 270 $39,400
Blacksburg 100 $35,560
Radford 100 $35,560
Christiansburg 100 $35,560
Roanoke 50 $35,810
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Seattle 1260 $38,560
Tacoma 1260 $38,560
Bellevue 1260 $38,560
Spokane 330 $35,230
Spokane Valley 330 $35,230
Silverdale 250 $39,620
Bremerton 250 $39,620
Yakima 150 $40,360
Bellingham 100 $39,560
Mount Vernon 90 $49,410
Anacortes 90 $49,410
Wenatchee 50 $35,670
Olympia 50 $43,970
Tumwater 50 $43,970
Longview 30 $37,640
Richland N/A $28,190
Kennewick N/A $28,190
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston 40 $30,950
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Waukesha 360 $42,010
Milwaukee 360 $42,010
West Allis 360 $42,010
Madison 230 $50,340
Green Bay 130 $34,590
Eau Claire 70 $39,070
Racine 40 $36,080
Neenah 40 $56,660
Oshkosh 40 $56,660
Appleton N/A $40,860
     
Metro Area (Wyoming) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Casper 40 $44,660

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.

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

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
These schools offer particularly quick info upon request, and we have written detailed profiles for each (click school names to see the profiles). Request info from multiple schools, by clicking the Request Info links.
 
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CityTownInfo Career and College Resources

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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