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How Much Can You Make as an Addictions Counselor?

An addictions counselor spends their time meeting with clients who are currently battling addiction or who once faced addiction and are living their lives in recovery. It's not uncommon for professionals who choose this career path to have a past that was once affected by their own addiction or the addiction of a loved one. Because of this, many substance abuse counselors take pride in what they do day in and day out.

While choosing a fulfilling career is extremely important to some, earning a living wage is a priority on almost everyone's lists. Prospective students who would like to enter into a counseling degree program or return to school should always consider potential salaries before selecting an occupation. Here's what prospective addictions counselors should know about salaries in the field:

Where to Find Accurate Information

Anyone researching the cost of a degree should also reference the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine which fields show the most potential. When referencing this handbook, students looking to make educated decisions can easily see how much professionals in the field make on average nationwide.

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National Averages

According to the BLS, the average substance abuse counselor makes $42,150 per year or $20.27 per hour. The lowest 10% of professionals in the field who were surveyed earned just $26,210 while the highest 10% earned $65,080 annually. Based on the survey answers, the BLS has determined that state, local, and private hospitals pay the highest wages and residential care facilities pay the lowest.

Location Affects Salary

Perhaps the biggest factor that affects salaries in all fields is geographic location. Depending on the industry and the supply of professionals in the area, there could be a huge demand for qualified professionals in one city and no demand at all in another. This is why students should always consider where they live or where they would like to transition to before they assume that outlook will be positive.

In mental health counseling with a focus on substance abuse issues, the demand can dramatically change from one state to another and also one city to another. According to the Geographic Profile through the BLS, New Mexico, Alaska, North Dakota, New Jersey, and New York have the highest employment level for counselors, with New Mexico paying an average of $59,090 per year.

Top-Paying Industries

There are many different industries that an addictions counselor could work in. This is another huge factor that affects whether or not the professional will be in the upper-end or lower-end of the salary range. According to the data published by BLS, junior colleges, research centers, insurance carriers, and elementary schools are listed as the top-paying industries. Residential facilities and family service organizations are reported to pay the lowest average salaries.

Addictions counselors who work in a private practice setting must possess at minimum a master's degree. This is because licensing is a requirement in counseling in all practice settings. Some counselors may possess only a high school diploma when they are not offering private one-on-one sessions.

It's important for prospective students to assess the cost of earning a degree and completing supervised clinical hours before deciding which path is best. It's easiest to make an informed decision on education and the addictions counselor path once a student knows the potential costs and earnings.