The Substance Abuse Counselor Training and Career Center


Welcome! You have arrived at the Substance Abuse Counselor Headquarters! Here you will find all the information you need for a career as a substance abuse counselor, including training, education requirements, qualifications needed for licensure and certification, and more! The Substance Abuse Counselor Headquarters will help you obtain the knowledge and skills needed to get where you want to be… fast!

Substance Abuse Counselor Training and Education Requirements

There is an ample amount of substance abuse counselor training required before entering into a position in the career.  The qualifications and education requirements vary from state to state.  Some states only require a high school diploma and a substance abuse counselor certification, while some demand a substance abuse counselor degree.  It is extremely important to not go haphazardly into the substance abuse counselor career or begin substance abuse counselor training without first researching the specific requirements and qualifications expected for licensing in the state of employment.  Given the education and training requirements are different state to state, a master’s degree is always required to become a licensed substance abuse counselor.  Typically in an accredited master’s degree program upwards to sixty semester hours of education is required, including a period of supervised experience with direct patient interaction.

Substance Abuse Counselor Training

substance abuse counselor trainingOften employers will offer some form of support towards the process of obtaining substance abuse counselor training.  They will either directly provide substance abuse counselor training or will offer reimbursement or tuition assistance to complete a substance abuse counselor degree.  Most likely the employee will have to complete and participate in post-graduate studies, workshops, and other education programs to maintain their substance abuse counselor qualifications, licenses, or certificates.

For substance abuse counselors, 49 States and the District of Columbia have a form of licensure that oversees the substance abuse counselor training and practice.  This governing licensure requirements typically include the completion of a master’s degree, the accumulation of a particular number of hours of supervised clinical experience and the passing of a state-recognized exam.  Of course, one of the substance abuse counselor requirements is to adhere to the standards and ethical codes of all business professionals and especially those of the medical community in regards to confidentiality.

Perhaps the most significant substance abuse counselor qualifications and requirements for employment is the strong desire to help others overcome addiction.  The substance abuse counselor should have the capacity to command respect, earn trust, and act with whole confidence.  They should be able to maintain motivation if working individually or foster synergy if working wtihin a team.  A position in a substance abuse counselor career demands none less than absolute adherence to the code of ethics and standards associated with the training and employment.  Ultimately the substance abuse counselor must be resilient physically, emotionally, and spiritually in order to cope with the daily stresses of the problems of the job and the clients or patients.

Substance Abuse Counselor Programs

Students who manage to complete substance abuse counselor programs will be more knowledgeable in the art of helping those with drug and addiction related problems.  They will comprehend more than the uneducated public the issues surrounding addiction, specifically of drugs and alcohol, and all drug terminology including street names.  The student will obtain information of substance abuse treatment models, modalities, and theories.  They will understand the co-occuring disorders including mental illness, sexual and spiritual issues, and family dynamics that support and enable substance abuse.  The would-be substance abuse counselor will learn to listen actively and effectively, understanding those who struggle with addiction.  They will assess situations and intervene appropriately.  They will make appropriate referrals to the correct in-patient or out-patient treatments and ultimately will become more aware and confident with all issues related to drugs, alcohol, and any other addiction.

Substance Abuse Counselor Positions and Career

The most well known positions in the substance abuse counselor career are in hospitals, clinics, and other medical settings.  There are substance abuse counselor positions in halfway houses and other types of therapeutic communitites, such as residential treatment facilities and in-patient treatment programs for the incarcerated in prison.  One may work in these settings individually or as part of an organization and team, or with the proper substance abuse counselor education, counselors may open a private practice.  Projected job growth for those with satisfactory substance abuse counselor training is favorable as job openings are suspected to surpass the number of graduates with a substance abuse counselor degree from counseling programs.

Substance Abuse Counselor Education Requirements

Substance abuse counselor positions vary as much as the education requirements.  All substance abuse related counseling positions are related to helping individuals and families to overcome problems with alcohol, drugs, gambling, eating, and sexual disorders and addictions.  Substance abuse counselor employment opportunities exist as an educational, vocational, and school counselor, in elementary school, high school, and college settings.  Substance abuse counselors interact with the employees and students individually and in small or large groups.  Vocational counselors are also known as career counselors and employment counselors and with the specialization of substance abuse counseling, would provide help in the employee assistance programs.  Those who have found substance abuse counselor employment are trained to develop generalized and personalized recovery programs, helping to establish and maintain a healthy lifestyle and positive coping mechanisms and strategies.  He or she may also work with the family directly who suffer from the addictions of their kin and loved ones.  Some substance abuse counselor programs are intended to prevent addiction, prevent relapse, and disseminate education to the public in regards to substance abuse.

Counselors in general held over 650,000 jobs in 2008, of which mental health and specifically substance abuse and behavioral disorder counseling was over a 140,000 positions.  The projected job outlook for substance abuse counselors is beyond average and is specifically expected to grow by over 20 percent.  Society is becoming more knowledgeable about addiction, and the stigma of addiction and mental illness is falling to the wayside, encouraging more people to seek treatment and employment in substance abuse related fields.  Another postiively contributing factor is that insurance companies are beginning to offer more reimbursement and compensation for substance abuse counseling.

Median annual wages for substance abuse counselors in 2008 was just below 26,000 dollars.  Self-employed substance abuse counselors with private practices that were well established usually have the highest annual earnings for the substance abuse counselor career.

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