Addiction Counseling Degree Guide – What Can I Do with a Degree in Addiction Counseling?

Substance abuse or addiction counselor specializes in helping those individuals (children, teenagers, and adults) who have become chemically dependent upon drugs or alcohol. Typically, an addiction counselor works with individuals who, through their addiction, have lives that have begun to spin out of control.

Similar to psychologists and other-related counseling professions, addiction or substance abuse counselors work with both individual clients as well as groups of individuals to help offer solutions and to identify problematic behaviors that lead to out-of-control, addictive behavior and life choices. Each of these counseling techniques requires skills that are taught in the many available certificates, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs dedicated to the field of substance abuse and addiction. These programs will provide much value for entry-level counselors.

The best online rehabilitation counseling programs prepare students to help clients overcome their addiction, understand how to manage the root cause, and to set goals for a better, more productive future. Coursework and mandated clinical experiences are the backbone of the best online rehabilitation counseling programs, as together, these two teaching approaches allow students to get the most of their choice of the best online schools for addiction counseling.

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Additionally, students enrolled in one of the best online colleges for substance abuse counselor programs will work alongside family members of the chemical-dependent individual, as substance abuse infiltrates and impacts entire families, not just those who are suffering from addiction directly.

A substance abuse counselor’s job responsibility includes the following:

  • Listen to those struggling with addiction and the dangerous consequences it brings.
  • Help individuals use recovery programs and techniques as a traditional 12-step program or other addiction recovery programs.
  • If a client is receiving addiction counseling as the result of a court order, an addiction counselor may be required to provide updates to a judge regarding the individual’s recovery process.
  • Create and implement treatment programs to aid and assist individuals struggling with addiction during the recovery process, to name just a few.

Accreditation for Addiction Counseling Programs

There are a variety of addiction counseling programs that are available online and on-campus and prepare students for rewarding careers in the many facets and fields of substance abuse counseling.

The Department of Education in the United States denotes that there are two fundamental types of accreditation in the education realm. These include regional or institutional accreditation or specialized or programmatic accreditation. Most substance abuse or addiction counseling programs are regionally accredited by one of the federal government’s regional accrediting agencies managed by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

The process of institutional accreditation refers to the evaluation of an entire institution of higher education. It assesses how each of the school’s parts contributes to the school’s performance against a set of objective criteria.  The following list includes the six regional accrediting agencies that represent various sections of the United States.

Specialized (or as it is sometimes referred to) programmatic accreditation refers to the accreditation of a program or a department within a larger higher learning institution. The accredited unit could be a solitary degree or refer to an entire school/college within a large metro university.  

Addiction counseling accreditation is primarily done through the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Education Programalso known primarily as CACREP. CACREP accreditation is recognized as the gold standard in terms of counseling degree programs.

CACREP – The Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Education Programs

With headquarters in Virginia, the CACREP is responsible for ensuring accredited programs meet standards set forth by industry experts.

Why is the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Education Programs (CACREP) accreditation for substance abuse counseling important?

CACREP accreditation for substance abuse counseling programs is an important part of determining which program to enroll in because studies have revealed that graduates from CACREP-accredited programs have a greater likelihood of passing the NCE – the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification. It is noted that addiction counseling programs that have received accreditation by CACREP tend to provide the most effective and direct pathways to the requirements set for by most state certifying bodies. To be certain, it is important to check with the relevant state licensing agency.

Certificate Programs in Addiction Counseling

A certificate program is a short-term training module that helps expand a student’s knowledge of a particular subject. The curriculum for an on-campus or online addiction counseling certification program There are many available on-campus and online substance abuse counseling certificate programs from which to choose.

Some students choose to earn a substance abuse counseling certificate online program as a technique to jumpstart a career, while other students choose to earn a certificate in addiction counseling online or on-campus to boost their current career. A substance abuse counselor certificate online program is often an alternative route for those who wish to make a career change, as an adult, later in life.

There are many different, available online substance abuse counseling certificate programs that can help refine a student’s knowledge. This variety of addiction counseling certificate online programs cover the many areas of addiction counseling.

  • An addiction counseling certification online program can train specialists to assist those struggling with addiction to identify those issues that create their need to self-medicate.
  • An on-campus or online addiction counseling certification program can help refine a counselor’s assessment skills that ultimately improve a client’s treatment and plan and likely outcome.

Ultimately, a certificate in addiction counseling online program is a great way to fast-track learning for those working professionals with limited time to devote to studies over long stretches of time. Most substance abuse counseling certificate online programs can be completed in only a semester or two and offer a condensed curriculum about one skillset or related topic. Examples of the many options available for addiction counseling certification online or on-campus programs include these –

  • The NAADAC offers the Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) – an addiction counseling certificate online program which is available on a voluntary basis. This national certification requires certificate candidates to meet these guidelines –
    • A graduate or post-graduate degree in substance abuse and/or addiction.
    • Current license/credential in substance abuse counseling (or related field) that is issued by a state or credentialing agency.
    • A minimum of 500 hours of education/training specific to addiction or substance abuse.
    • A minimum of 6,000 hours of experience in substance abuse or addiction that is professionally supervised.
    • A passing score for one of these substance abuse counselor certificate online exams –

Certificate Jobs and Salary in Addiction Counseling

As you consider the many options of a career in addiction counseling, before making any final decisions, be sure to find several examples of a substance abuse counseling job description to ensure you have a solid understanding of the substance abuse counseling job description. In addition, be certain to answer these questions –

  • Are there substance abuse counseling jobs near me that will meet my career objectives?
  • Are there part-time substance abuse counseling jobs that would allow me to further my education?
  • Can I find online substance abuse counseling jobs that would meet my salary requirements?
  • Are there substance abuse counseling jobs near me that would pay me to attend graduate school?

The above-noted questions are just a few of the many important questions to ask (and answer) as you consider the many certificate job and salary options available.  

Bachelor’s Programs in Addiction Counseling

A substance abuse counselor works in an advocacy and mentoring capacity because they are not authorized to prescribe medicine or professional psychological therapy. On-campus and online substance abuse counseling degree programs prepare addiction counseling graduates to help clients see their emotional connections that may contribute to the client’s drug/alcohol dependency.

Earning an on-campus or online substance abuse counselor degree is the perfect springboard for a variety of employment options. Those who earn online addiction counseling degrees will find gainful employment in many industries and in –

  • Mental Health Clinics
  • Halfway Houses
  • Hospitals
  • Juvenile Detention Facilities.
  • State/Local Government Agencies
  • Residential Care Centers

Many graduates with a substance abuse counselor online degree find employment across the many facets of the criminal justice system. Many substance abuse counselor degree online program graduates work to help those drug offenders within the criminal justice system as states have begun to realize that addiction counselors are most a cost-effective and more efficient alternative to incarceration.

Students enrolled in an online addictions counseling degree program are also trained to help those challenged by addiction to help/maintain employment, among the many other ways to assist addicts in becoming self-sufficient, contributing members of society. Additionally, the curriculum for either an on-campus or an online degree in substance abuse counseling will also provide training in the following areas –

  • Helping clients build a support network to use during their recovery.  
  • Helping clients develop a workable life plan.
  • Working with a client’s family to heal the results of the trauma created by the addiction.

Substance abuse counseling degrees online also prepare graduates to work as educators, leading workshops in communities, employee assistance programs, or drug awareness outreach programs.

With the many online substance abuse counseling degree programs now available, it has never been easier to earn an addictions counseling degree online – with a flexible and convenient class schedule to meet busy working learners or parents studying at night.

If you are seriously considering enrolling in one of the many quality online degree in substance abuse counseling programs, remember to determine if the online substance abuse counselor degree program has either received regional or specialized accreditation.

In addition to learning the many ways to work with those afflicted with alcoholism, those professionals who hold an online degree in substance abuse counseling learn the professional skills required to help those with the following types of addiction –

  • Opiates and Heroin
  • Meth and other illegal drugs
  • Eating Disorders
  • Gambling
  • Sex, among others.

As baccalaureate students enrolled in a substance abuse counselor online degree program, online addiction counseling degree programs require degree candidates to complete a practicum or internship  – with supervision, as this provides an opportunity for degree candidates to apply theoretical knowledge in a real-world, if not controlled environment.

For those individuals who are seriously considering to proactively make a difference in their own community, earning on-campus or online addiction counseling degrees opens opportunities that impact a community as follows –

  • Improved safety and reduced domestic violence
  • Reduced crime
  • Reduced substance abuse-related hospitalizations

Earning an addictions counseling degree online offers students a rewarding career helping others on their healing journey to a better way of life. So, if you want to be a potential game-changing influencer in someone’s life, earning substance abuse counseling degrees online is a great way to accomplish that goal.

Bachelor’s Jobs and Salary in Addiction Counseling

The Labor Statistics Bureau (BLS) of the US Federal Government reveals that the 2019 median addictions counseling salary was $46,240, which calculates to $22.23 per hour. And, during the calendar year of 2019, there were nearly 320,000 counseling professionals working in the field of behavioral disorders, mental health, or substance abuse.

The statisticians at the BLS also offer their professional estimates as to the job outlook for substance abuse counseling jobs over the next decade. Between 2019 and 2019, the BLS anticipates that substance abuse counseling jobs and opportunities will grow at a pace of 25%, which is significantly faster than the anticipated job growth average of all jobs of approximately 8%. This impressive, anticipated job growth for jobs in substance abuse counseling amounts to the creation of nearly 80,000 new substance abuse counseling jobs.

It is helpful to review how the substance abuse counseling salary moves through a percentile of earnings analysis.

Percentile Wage Estimates for Addictions Counseling Salary Data (May 2019)

Percentiles for Substance Abuse Counseling Salary are as follows –

  • Bottom 10% – $29,520 per year
  • 25% – $35,960 per year
  • 50% (Median) – $46,240 per year
  • 75% – $59,650 per year
  • 90% – $76,080 per year

Here are the top-paying industries for substance Abuse Counseling Jobs

Industry Profile – Substance Abuse Counseling JobsNumber EmployedSubstance Abuse Counseling Salary
Junior Colleges280$ 63,740 per year
Insurance Carriers790$ 62,250 per year
Agencies/Brokerages & Insurance Related150$ 61,060 per year
Colleges, Universities & Prof. Schools3,540$ 57,810 per year
Local Government – no schools or hospitals included20,590$ 57,440 per year

Here are the industries with the highest concentration of  Substance Abuse Counseling Jobs

Industries with the Highest Concentration of  Jobs in Substance Abuse CounselingNumber EmployedAddictions Counseling Salary
Outpatient Care Centers64,090$ 48,150 per year
Psychiatric & Substance Abuse Hospitals14,360$ 47,280 per year
Various Mental Health/Substance Abuse Facilities34,310$ 42,380 per year
Other Residential Care Facilities7,270$ 41,400 per year
Health Care Practitioner Offices27,010$ 53,620 per year

Here are the top-paying states for jobs in substance abuse counseling –

Top Paying States –  Jobs in Substance Abuse CounselingNumber EmployedAddictions Counseling Salary
Utah3,270$ 67,410 per year
Nevada1,180$ 63,910 per year
Oregon5,550$ 60,960 per year
Alaska960$ 60,830 per year
New Jersey10,130$ 60,120 per year

Here are the top-paying metropolitan areas for Substance Abuse Counseling Jobs –

Top Paying Metro Areas –  Jobs in Substance Abuse CounselingNumber EmployedAddictions Counseling Salary
Lewiston, ID & WA40$ 81,600 per year
Salt Lake City, UT1,610$ 76,710 per year
Reno, NV470$ 75,920 per year
Mankato – N Mankato, MN170$ 71,230 per year
Hanford – Corcoran, CAN/A$ 69,420 per year
Kennewick – Richland, WA370$ 68,360 per year
St. George, UT150$ 67,510 per year
San Luis Obispo – Arroyo Grande, CA130$ 66,940 per year
Bloomington, IN50$ 66,120 per year
Bridgeport – Stamford – Norwalk, CT630$ 66,070 per year

Master’s Programs in Addiction Counseling

In order to practice privately as an addiction counselor, most states require a minimum level of education that generally includes an on-campus or online master’s degree in substance abuse counseling. Many addiction counseling professionals prefer to complete a master’s in addiction counseling online degree (rather than a more traditional approach) as a master’s degree in addiction counseling online program usually provides the flexibility and convenience working learners require to complete their studies.  

A variety of master’s in substance abuse counseling online degree programs offer online coursework, with clinical and practicum experiences available in the student’s local marketplace. Note that a master’s degree in addiction counseling online program requires a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical counseling work that is supervised.

Master’s Jobs and Salary in Addiction Counseling

According to the researchers at the Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies – a recognized leader in helping to create a world that allows for healing and hope for those (and their families) challenged by any form of addiction, those who hold a masters in substance abuse counseling will generally earn about $12,000 more per year than those with just a baccalaureate degree.

And, to ensure you maximize your masters in substance abuse counseling salary, be certain to select the program that is appropriately accredited and offers the student the academic and experiential training that will meet career objectives.

Related Rankings:

Top 25 Best Online Bachelor’s in Addiction Counseling

Top 25 Best Online Master’s in Addiction Counseling

Top 25 Best Online Certificates in Addiction Counseling