Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
Most substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselor positions require at least a bachelor’s degree. However, depending on the state and employer, educational requirements for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors can vary from a high school diploma and certification to a master’s degree. Workers with psychology, clinical social work, mental health counseling, and similar master’s degrees can provide more services to their clients, such as private one-on-one counseling sessions, and they require less supervision than those with less education. Those interested should research their state’s educational requirements.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 20% (Much faster than average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Licenses/Certifications
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors in private practice must be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state, but all states require these counselors to have a master’s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. In addition, counselors must pass a state-issued exam and complete continuing education every year. Contact information for your state's regulating board can be found through the National Board for Certified Counselors.
Median pay: How much do Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors make?
$42,150 Annual Salary
$20.27 per hour

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors advise people who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, mental health issues, or other mental or behavioral problems. They provide treatment and support to help clients recover from addiction or modify problem behaviors.

What do Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors do?

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors typically do the following:

  • Evaluate clients’ mental and physical health, addiction, or problematic behavior and assess their readiness for treatment
  • Develop, recommend, and review treatment goals and plans with clients and their families
  • Assist clients in developing skills and behaviors necessary to recover from their addiction or modify their behavior
  • Work with clients to identify behaviors or situations that interfere with their recovery
  • Teach clients’ family members about addiction or behavior disorders and help them develop strategies to cope with those problems
  • Refer clients to other resources and services, such as job placement services and support groups
  • Conduct outreach programs to help people identify the signs of addiction and other destructive behavior, as well as steps to take to avoid such behavior

Careers for Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

  • Addiction counselors
  • Addiction therapists
  • Alcohol and drug counselors
  • Behavior disorder counselors
  • Certified abuse and drug addiction counselors
  • Certified alcohol and drug counselors
  • Chemical dependency counselors
  • Clinical mental health counselors
  • Drug abuse counselors
  • Drug counselors
  • LCMHCs
  • LMHCs
  • Licensed clinical mental health counselors
  • Licensed mental health counselors
  • Mental health counselors
  • Substance abuse
  • Substance abuse counselors

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