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Oswego Career Ladders - Substance Abuse Counselors

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Substance Abuse Counselors

Industry: Healthcare
Area: Mental Health

Counselors assist people with personal, family, educational, mental health, and career decisions and problems. Their duties depend on the individuals they serve and on the settings in which they work. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors help people who have problems with alcohol, drugs, gambling, and eating disorders. They counsel individuals who are addicted to drugs, helping them identify behaviors and problems related to their addiction. These counselors hold sessions for one person, for families, or for groups of people.

Work Settings

Counselors must possess high physical and emotional energy to handle the array of problems they address. Dealing daily with these problems can cause stress.


All States require substance abuse counselors who work in state certified clinics to hold state certificate/credentials. SA Counselors educational level requirements are dictated by the employer and the job responsibilities and range from a high school diploma to a masters degree.

Job Outlook

SA Counselors held about 67,000 jobs in 2002. Overall employment of counselors is expected to grow faster than the average
for all occupations through 2012.


Median annual earnings of substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors in 2002 were $30,180.

Work Schedule

Counselors usually work a standard 40-hour week. Self-employed counselors and those working in mental health and community agencies, such as substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, frequently work evenings to counsel clients who work during the day.

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