Aspiring drug and alcohol counselors often ask what the job outlook for this profession is and what type of career they can expect. Drug and alcohol counselors have a very important role because they counsel and advise a variety of patients suffering from drug addiction, alcoholism, mental health issues, eating disorders, and several other behavioral or mental problems. As the number of people suffering from addictions and mental health issues continues to grow, so does the job outlook grow for these professionals.
Job Outlook for Drug and Alcohol Counselors
Drug and alcohol counselors are very much in demand and continue to be in demand more each year as more people are choosing to seek the services of addiction and mental health counseling. States are seeking counseling and treatment services for drug offenders as an alternative to jail or prison time, which increases the demand for drug and alcohol counselors.
Drug and alcohol counselors are also needed to provide military personnel with substance abuse and mental health counseling care. Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors are expected to see job growth of 22 percent during the decade of 2018-2028, which should result in about 68,500 new jobs created by 2028 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Drug and alcohol counselors work in government; residential substance abuse and mental health facilities; hospitals; and individual family services, but the majority work in outpatient mental health and substance abuse facilities.
Wage Potential for Drug and Alcohol Counselors
The wage potential for drug and alcohol counselors can vary by many factors, including degree level, certifications, work experience, employer and location. As of May 2018, substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earned wages ranging from $28,240 to $72,990, and the average annual wage was $47,920. These professionals earned an average hourly wage of $23.04.
Of all the factors that can affect wage potential for drug and alcohol counselors, location plays the biggest role. Here are the five states where drug and alcohol counselors earn the highest wages followed by the states where the lowest wages are paid as reported by the bureau.
• Utah – $66,330
• Alaska – $62,920
• District of Columbia – $59,850
• Oregon – $59,390
• New Jersey – $58,410
• Tennessee – $38,030
• Missouri – $38,150
• South Carolina $38,410
• Mississippi – $39,710
• West Virginia – $39,950
What it Takes to Become One
The requirements to become a drug and alcohol counselors vary from employer to employer as well as from state to state, but most positions required the counselor have at least a bachelor’s degree. The educational program for aspiring drug and alcohol counselors includes completing not just coursework but also a clinical internship under the supervision of a licensed drug and alcohol counselor, a mental health counselor or a clinical social worker.
The licensure requirements for drug and alcohol counselors also varies from state to state. Some states require a specific degree, while others require the candidates to pass a certification exam. The National Board for Certified Counselors provides information for licensure information for each state. Maintaining certification and licensure requires completing continuing education.
Drug and alcohol counselors may have challenging and troubling work when trying to help individuals suffering from addictions and/or mental health issues, but the work can also be very rewarding. With a good job outlook for drug and alcohol counselors, it’s an ideal career choice for the right individual.