After they complete their training, Mississippi substance abuse counselors use their listening skills and medical expertise to help others. Through counseling and assessment, they evaluate the mental state and condition of their clients and guide them towards a lifestyle that is free from destructive behaviors. Depending on the situation, substance abuse counselors may be called upon to help clients with an addition to drugs, alcohol, or even food. Some of the common tasks of Mississippi substance abuse counselors include:

  • Listening to clients and assessing their mental health
  • Helping clients come up with goals, and formulating plans to achieve them
  • Teaching clients positive behaviors and coping strategies
  • Referring clients to other professionals, as needed
  • Helping clients deal with the consequences of addiction

According to the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, substance abuse counselors hired by the state of Mississippi may be required to be licensed and certified. These certifications require a master's degree or better. With that being said, Mississippi substance abuse counselors who do not work for state agencies may not need to meet such strenuous requirements. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that some substance counselors may only need a high school diploma and some on-the-job experience.

Fast Facts for Mississippi Substance Abuse Counselors

According to the BLS, only 700 substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors were employed in Mississippi in 2014. Together, they earned an annual mean wage of $31,860, which works out to approximately $15.32 per hour. While these workers were spread out all over the state that year, the following regions employed the bulk of them:

  • Jackson: 160
  • Northeast Mississippi nonmetropolitan area: 130
  • Gulfport - Biloxi: 110
  • Northwest Mississippi nonmetropolitan area: 100
  • Southeast Mississippi nonmetropolitan area: 80
  • Southwest Mississippi nonmetropolitan area: 50

That being said, this occupation is expected to grow in the state of Mississippi. According to U.S. Department of Labor estimates, employment for Mississippi substance abuse counselors is expected to increase 20.3 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is almost twice the national average job growth.

Mississippi Substance Abuse Counselor Salaries

As noted above, Mississippi substance abuse counselors earned an annual mean wage of $31,860 in 2014. That figure is considerably less than the national average wage for this occupation, which was $41,870 in 2014.

Some industries paid higher wages for these workers in 2014 on a national level. The following list includes the industries that paid these workers the most:

  • Junior Colleges: $63,860
  • Educational Support Services: $56,150
  • Elementary and Secondary Schools: $53,920
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools: $53,110
  • Insurance Carriers: $52,090

Metro Areas Rated for Salary and Popularity


Employment per 1,000 Residents

Annual Mean Wage in 2014




Gulfport - Biloxi



Northeast Mississippi nonmetropolitan area



Northwest Mississippi nonmetropolitan area



Southeast Mississippi nonmetropolitan area



Southwest Mississippi nonmetropolitan area



Expert Q&A

In order to learn as much as we could about addiction counseling in Mississippi, we reached out to Dr. Damien Thomas, Director of the Addiction Counseling program at Mississippi College. As an expert in his field and college instructor, Dr. Thomas offers an insider's view on the role of Mississippi substance abuse counselors, and how it could change in the future.

What are some of the unique issues that substance abuse and behavioral counselors face in the state of Mississippi?

Managed care can be challenging for clinicians as they often times have problems approving clients for services due to them not meeting specified criteria (as outlined by the insurance company).

What is the greatest benefit of practicing this field within the state of Mississippi?

The greatest benefit of practicing this field within the state of MS is having a close network of individuals (e.g. counselors, social workers, advocacy groups, etc.) that care about the clients and their families. This makes working in the field worthwhile as it becomes obvious that we are working for something greater than ourselves.

How will the job of a substance abuse counselor change in the next 10 to 20 years?

I see technology being more of an influence with regard to service delivery. Web-enhanced technologies will give client's more options for selecting counselors as travel would be less of a factor.

How is your school preparing the counselors of the future for the changing face of this profession?

MS College prepares counselors by offering courses that are in accordance with the latest research and accreditation standards. We also have instructors that are active within the areas of research, training, and practice.


  1. College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
  2. Interview with Dr. Damien Thomas of Mississippi College, September 8, 2015
  3. Long Term Occupational Projections, Projections Central, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
  4. May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Mississippi, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ms.htm
  5. Professional Licensure and Certification, Mississippi Department of Mental Health, http://www.dmh.ms.gov/providers/professional-licensure-and-certification-place/
  6. Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211011.htm
  7. Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-and-behavioral-disorder-counselors.htm
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More Mississippi Schools

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

School Name
Highest Award
Alcorn State
Blue Mountain
Mississippi State
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Job Popularity in Metro Areas for Substance Abuse Counselors

The map below shows job statistics for the career type by metro area, for Mississippi. A table below the map shows job popularity and salaries across the state.

Metro Areas Rated for Popularity for:
Substance Abuse Counselors

Listed below are metro areas ranked by the popularity of jobs for Substance Abuse Counselors relative to the population of the city. Salary data was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

Metro Area
Annual Median Salary
Jackson 140 $32,980
Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula 100 $29,130
Hattiesburg 40 $

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