Substance abuse counselors help individuals suffering from addiction and other disorders. Through counseling, assessment, and evaluations, they help them break free from conditions such as alcoholism or addiction to damaging behaviors, food or drugs. Common tasks performed by these professionals include:
Pennsylvania substance abuse counselors who work in private practice need to become certified. The Pennsylvania Certification Board offers several options in this field, including Associate Addiction Counselor, Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Certified Associate Addiction Counselor, and Certified Criminal Justice Addictions Professional. While some beginning certifications in this field require only a high school diploma and on-the-job training and experience, higher level positions require a Master's degree and 2,000 hours or more of on-the-job experience.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 7,800 substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors were employed in Pennsylvania in 2014. Together, they earned an annual mean wage of $41,320. The following regions employed the bulk of these workers that year:
Although employment is already high in this profession in the state, it appears more jobs may be on the way. According to U.S. Department of Labor figures from Projections Central, job openings for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors could increase by as much as 20.7 percent in Pennsylvania through 2022.
As the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors in Pennsylvania earned an annual mean wage of $41,320 in 2014. That figure lines up nicely with the national average wage for this profession which was $41,870 in 2014.
Certain industries paid higher than average wages for these workers in 2014 on a national level, however. Here are the highest paying industries for this profession that year:
Employment per 1,000 Residents
Annual Mean Wage in 2014
Harrisburg - Carlisle
Allentown - Bethlehem - Easton, PA-NJ
Scranton - Wilkes - Barre:
Youngstown - Warren - Boardman
York - Hanover
To learn more about Pennsylvania substance abuse counseling programs and the industry in general, we reached out to Travis W. Schermer, PhD, LPC, ACS, Assistant Professor and Program Director of Psychology and Counseling at Carlow University.
What are some of the unique issues that substance abuse and behavioral counselors face in the state of Pennsylvania?
There has been an increase in heroin use in our region that has impacted many communities. Anecdotally, we are seeing more students coming into the program because their lives have been touched by heroin. We also see a disparity in access to treatment for poor and working class communities. Our institution has a long history of engagement with our local community, working to enhance the lives of underserved populations. Therefore, we challenge students to consider how they can make a difference, both in the lives of clients and their communities.
What is the greatest benefit of practicing this field within the state of Pennsylvania?
I think the greatest benefit is in the impact that counselors have on both clients and the local community. It is a great honor to be invited into the lives of others and to empower them to create change. Counseling is also a growing field nationally, with new opportunities emerging in our region. With the benefit of the Affordable Care Act, we are seeing more and more people who have insurance. This means that more people are able to seek out mental health treatment, which is a great boon to employment in the field.
How will the job of a substance abuse counselor change in the next 10 to 20 years?
I think we will see an increase in the treatment of behavioral disorders (e.g., gambling, internet), which is expanding the scope of what we have traditionally seen in the field. This change is already happening today, which is exciting to see, along with new models of treatment. Substance abuse counseling is not a static field, but continues to grow and evolve. The old model of the confrontational counselor has gone by the wayside, replaced today by a more flexible and receptive style. I conjecture that we will continue to see innovations that will enhance our work with clients, as well as enliven our careers.
How does your school prepare substance abuse counselors for the challenges they will face?
We have a strong emphasis on clinical conceptualization in all of our substance abuse counseling courses. This entails applying a theoretical lens to understand the client's difficulties, both in origin and prognosis. In other words, we ask students to see the problem in the context of the client's life; thereby, understanding that problems don't exist in isolation. This enhances the treatment that counselors can offer because it is not solely focused on the manifestation of the problem, but the core issues that they are experiencing.
Schools for Substance Abuse Counselors in Pennsylvania are listed below.
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.
This list also contains online schools that accept students from Pennsylvania.
Kaplan University is focused on recognizing the achievements of military and veteran students and offers the flexibility of an online education.
Regent University prepares students with the knowledge to excel and the faith to live with purpose.
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Liberty University provides a world-class education with a solid Christian foundation, equipping men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential for success in every aspect of life.
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Sacred Heart University Online
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Designed with the needs of working adult students in mind, South University, Online Programs is built on the similar curriculum offered at South University's campus locations. As a student at South University, Online Programs you will receive the same quality instruction, variety of learning options and level of service found at the campus locations.
Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University.
Pursue your education at Ohio Christian University.
|School Name||Campus||Highest Award||Enrolled|
|Baptist Bible College and Seminary||Clarks Summit||Doctorate||1,016|
|Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania||Bloomsburg||Doctorate||8,745|
|Bryn Mawr College||Bryn Mawr||Doctorate||1,790|
|Bucks County Community College||Newtown||Associate||9,649|
|Butler County Community College||Butler||Associate||3,656|
|California University of Pennsylvania||California||Masters||8,206|
|Carnegie Mellon University||Pittsburgh||Doctorate||10,326|
|Cedar Crest College||Allentown||Masters||1,888|
|Chestnut Hill College||Philadelphia||Doctorate||2,062|
|Cheyney University of Pennsylvania||Cheyney||Masters||1,438|
|Clarion University of Pennsylvania||Clarion||Masters||6,795|
|Community College of Allegheny County||Pittsburgh||Associate||18,525|
|Community College of Beaver County||Monaca||Associate||3,194|
|Community College of Philadelphia||Philadelphia||Associate||17,334|
|DeSales University||Center Valley||Masters||2,898|
|Delaware County Community College||Media||Associate||10,816|
|Duquesne University||Pittsburgh||Doctorate & First Professional||10,296|
|East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania||East Stroudsburg||Masters||7,053|
|Eastern University||Saint Davids||Doctorate & First Professional||4,291|
|Edinboro University of Pennsylvania||Edinboro||Masters||7,686|
|Franklin and Marshall College||Lancaster||Bachelor||2,104|
|Geneva College||Beaver Falls||Masters||1,891|
|Grove City College||Grove City||Bachelor||2,504|
|Harcum College||Bryn Mawr||Associate||947|
|Harrisburg Area Community College-Harrisburg||Harrisburg||Associate||9,774|
|Holy Family University||Philadelphia||Masters||3,487|
|Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus||Indiana||Doctorate||14,018|
|Kutztown University of Pennsylvania||Kutztown||Masters||10,295|
|La Roche College||Pittsburgh||Masters||1,499|
|La Salle University||Philadelphia||Doctorate||5,994|
|Lebanon Valley College||Annville||Doctorate||1,936|
|Lehigh Carbon Community College||Schnecksville||Associate||7,184|
|Lincoln University of Pennsylvania||Lincoln University||Masters||2,449|
|Lock Haven University||Lock Haven||Masters||5,241|
|Mansfield University of Pennsylvania||Mansfield||Masters||3,338|
|Millersville University of Pennsylvania||Millersville||Masters||8,306|
|Montgomery County Community College-Central Campus||Blue Bell||Associate||9,184|
|Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary||Bethlehem||Masters & First Professional||1,989|
|Mount Aloysius College||Cresson||Masters||1,595|
|Northampton County Area Community College||Bethlehem||Associate||7,912|
|Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus||University Park||Doctorate||43,252|
|Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Altoona||Altoona||Bachelor||4,034|
|Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Beaver||Monaca||Bachelor||793|
|Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Berks||Reading||Bachelor||2,824|
|Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Erie-Behrend College||Erie||Masters||4,171|
|Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Greater Allegheny||McKeesport||Bachelor||783|
|Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Harrisburg||Middletown||Doctorate||3,907|
|Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Lehigh Valley||Fogelsville||Bachelor||801|
|Pennsylvania State University-Penn State New Kensington||Upper Burrell||Bachelor||912|
|Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Schuylkill||Schuylkill Haven||Bachelor||940|
|Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine||Philadelphia||Doctorate & First Professional||2,073|
|Point Park University||Pittsburgh||Masters||3,591|
|Reading Area Community College||Reading||Associate||4,682|
|Robert Morris University||Moon Township||Doctorate||5,055|
|Saint Francis University||Loretto||Doctorate||2,125|
|Saint Joseph's University||Philadelphia||Doctorate||7,542|
|Saint Vincent College||Latrobe||Masters||1,924|
|Seton Hill University||Greensburg||Masters||1,991|
|Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania||Shippensburg||Masters||7,765|
|Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania||Slippery Rock||Doctorate||8,325|
|Temple University||Philadelphia||Doctorate & First Professional||34,696|
|University of Pennsylvania||Philadelphia||Doctorate & First Professional||23,980|
|University of Pittsburgh-Bradford||Bradford||Bachelor||1,407|
|University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg||Greensburg||Bachelor||1,777|
|University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown||Johnstown||Bachelor||3,121|
|University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus||Pittsburgh||Doctorate||27,020|
|University of Scranton||Scranton||Doctorate||5,612|
|University of the Sciences in Philadelphia||Philadelphia||Doctorate||2,969|
|Valley Forge Christian College||Phoenixville||Masters||929|
|Villanova University||Villanova||Doctorate & First Professional||10,470|
|Washington & Jefferson College||Washington||Bachelor||1,531|
|West Chester University of Pennsylvania||West Chester||Masters||13,219|
|Westminster College New Wilmington||New Wilmington||Masters||1,455|
|Widener University-Main Campus||Chester||Doctorate||4,866|
|York College Pennsylvania||York||Masters||5,720|
The map below shows job statistics for the career type by metro area, for Pennsylvania. A table below the map shows job popularity and salaries across the state.
Listed below are metro areas ranked by the popularity of jobs for Substance Abuse Counselors relative to the population of the city, as of 2008. Salary data was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A Relative Popularity of 1.0 means that the city has an average number of the particular job, for its population, compared to the rest of the US. Higher numbers mean proportionally more jobs of that type.
These lists link to thousands of detailed school profiles.