|Number of Jobs:||23,400|
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Social Services Jobs||#3|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#27|
Those struggling with an addiction like alcoholism, or burdened by an eating disorder or other, behavioral problem turn to substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors for treatment and support. They can be the guiding force for helping patients integrate back into key areas of their lives where the addictive behavior has left a destructive trail, including work and personal relationships. Part of that process includes consulting with the families of patients about what treatment options are best suited for remedying the condition of their loved one. But substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors don't isolate their counsel to established patients. To warn others about the dangers of addiction and to encourage an alternate, healthy lifestyle, counselors often run outreach programs. Hearing daily about the devastating effect addiction has had on a person's life can be an emotional experience. That's why a temperament that mixes empathy with patience is a must.
At 27.3 percent growth rate, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors are growing at a faster clip than many other occupations. A key reason for the growth is a shift in how the justice system is dealing with drug offenders. Rather than jail time, many offenders are receiving treatment-oriented sentences. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) projects that over the coming decade, 23,400 new counselor positions will need to be filled.
According to the BLS, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors earned $38,560 in 2011, or approximately $18.54 per hour. The best-paid earned about $60,220, while the lowest-paid earned less than $25,280. Areas of the industry that pay well include colleges, universities, and professional schools, civic and social organizations, and nursing care facilities. According to the BLS, Michigan is home to two of the top three highest paying areas for the occupation; Lansing, and Flint.
There isn’t a firm academic threshold one has to meet to enter the occupation, though a majority of states require a form of certification. But as Director of the New England Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network Stephen Gumbley notes, the incorporation of behavioral health into the field is upping the ante for education. "The scope of the work has widened," he says, explaining that counselors over the past 15 years not only have knowledge about substance disorders but their strong correlation to mental disorders. That crossover has lead many entering the field to obtain bachelor and master degrees rather than rely squarely upon work experience. Still, even with the uptick of counselors with degrees, individuals working as recovery support specialists often rely upon real world experience.
Gumbley notes that there isn’t a formal organization within the industry that assists in the job search. However, "Internships are most closely associated with academic training," he says, and could make securing a position easier. For those looking to gain experience without having to jump through academic hoops, Gumbley suggests working in a residential program. While counselors in such facilities need clinical knowledge, other staff, like house and case managers, do not.
|Upward Mobility||Below Average|
|Stress Level||Above Average|