How To Become A Substance Abuse Counselor - A Career Guide

how to become a substance abuse counselor career

The job outlook for substance abuse counselors is expected to grow by 22%

This is higher than the average growth rate for a career, which is why a substance abuse counselor is a stable source of income. A bachelor's degree is required for this occupation, and the average salary is typically over $20 per hour. 

If you have a passion for helping others and you're good at talking with people, this may be a great career path for you. 

Unsure of how to become a substance abuse counselor? Well, no problem, we're going to walk you through the process. 

Keep reading to learn more! 

What Is A Substance Abuse Counselor? 

A substance abuse counselor is a mental health expert who helps people struggling with addiction

Their goal when treating addiction is to uncover any emotional or mental disorders that may be triggering the addictive tendencies. The substance abuse counselor may work with the family to create a plan of recovery as well. 

Substance abuse counselors may work with patients one on one or in a support group setting. 

A substance abuse counselor often has to work in varied environments. They serve a wide demographic and they may have unpredictable hours, depending on their patients' schedules. 

Duties required by substance abuse counselors include: 

• Keeping records for each patient 
• Writing evaluations or reports for the progress of each patient 
• Interviewing patients 
• Collaborating with others in the field 

A huge part of a substance abuse counselor's job is communication. Communicating with patients as well as colleagues is essential for job success. 

How To Become A Substance Abuse Counselor 

If you're interested in becoming a substance abuse counselor, you'll have to complete a set of requirements. 

These are: 


Before you can start practicing in the field, you'll need to earn your bachelor's degree. Your degree program will teach you how to interact with patients, how to be sensitive to the family, the science behind addiction, and many other topics. With many schools being shut down due to the Coronavirus pandemic, online training would be a great option for getting started now! 


During your degree program, you'll also need to complete experience requirements. These can be done in the form of an internship, practicum, or fieldwork experience. This experience allows you to get a feel for what your career will consist of. Also, you'll have the opportunity to learn from a professional who has years of experience in the field. 

Your experience will include: 

• Observation 
• Working with patients
• Completing the necessary paperwork for each patient 
• Possible home visits for patients 

Experience in the field is essential for preparing you for your future career. Many students find job opportunities through their internship experience. 

Are You Ready To Become A Substance Abuse Counselor? 

If you aspire to help others with their addiction, a substance abuse counselor may be the perfect job for you. 

A substance abuse counselor can be a very rewarding and fulfilling career if you're willing to complete the necessary requirements. Now that you know how to become a substance abuse counselor, you can get started with registration. If you found this post helpful, check out our other career content!

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