Becoming an Interventionist: Job Description & Salary Information

About this article
Interventionists get to be part of the health care teams that improve people's lives. But the pay isn't always great (ranging from about $25,310-$61,420 annually), and there isn't much room for advancement. Find out more about the job duties and training required to become an interventionist.
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Pros and Cons of an Interventionist Career

Interventionists meet with clients who have a history of behavioral issues to help them overcome problems and cope better with their daily lives. Learn more about the pros and cons of this career to determine if it's for you.

Pros of Becoming an Interventionist
Much higher-than-average expected job growth (about 22% for substance abuse interventionists, for example)*
Chance to help people*
Moderate educational requirements (4 years of higher education for most jobs)*
Variety of cases, frequent change of setting*

Cons of Becoming an Interventionist
Heavy workload required for most jobs*
Stress of dealing with mentally and emotionally unstable clients*
Possibility of being sued for malpractice***
Lack of much upward mobility into higher-paying positions*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale.com, ***Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS).

Career Information

Job Description

Interventionists work with clients who struggle with mental and emotional disabilities. Often, they are part of a health care team, which includes physicians, social workers and others who are focused on helping to assess and treat the specific issues facing each client. The job may involve traveling to client's homes, communicating with clients as well as the rest of the health care team and filling out paperwork assessing the situation and progress of clients. Alcohol and substance abuse interventionists may work with a rehab center or medical center, or they may start or join a private practice.

As a behavioral interventionist based at a hospital or school, your daily duties would be geared toward handling each new patient or student who needs you. Behavioral interventionists may work with children or adults, depending on the specific job. In addition, you might want to specialize in working with a certain condition, such as autism, or you might choose to work with a range of issues.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

According to the BLS, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors earned a mean annual income of about $41,870 (at a mean hourly rate of $20.13) as of May 2014. The job outlook is quite promising with a 22% growth predicted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics between 2014 and 2024 (which is much faster than average).

Education and Training Requirements

While there aren't any specific training requirements to become an interventionist, most jobs require at least 2 years of professional experience. In order to apply for credentialing through the National Association of Drug and Alcohol Interventionists (NADAI), you need either 1 year or 1,000 hours of experience or a 4-year degree in behavioral science or a related field. A bachelor's or master's degree in behavioral science may lead to an interventionist position.

Necessary Skills

Interventionists often work with aggressive or disturbed individuals, so maintaining calm under those stressful conditions is an important quality for success in this field. Communication skills are essential since the job is all about getting people to connect with you and each other to overcome personal obstacles. It would also help to be well organized in order to keep case files updated with detailed information on each of your clients.

What Employers Look For

Job listings for interventionists tend to ask for experience working with the emotionally or mentally unstable, the ability to remain calm under pressure, strong organizational skills and either an associate's or bachelor's degree. Below are some real job listings from May 2012:

  • A disabilities services center in Northern California is seeking interventionists to join their team working with people with autism. The job involves traveling to homes, assessing patients, creating evaluation and progress reports, attending training sessions and team meetings, interacting with children and communicating with the necessary health care providers. Requirements include a minimum of an associate's degree in nursing, psychology, early childhood education or a related field and two years' experience working with autistic children.
  • A health care center in Vermont, is seeking an interventionist to join its team working with adolescents struggling with public school. Job duties include developing a therapeutic, mentoring relationship with students and working to help them overcome behavioral as well as academic and emotional problems. A 4-year degree is required.
  • A childcare resource center at a university in Maryland is looking for interventionists to join their team working with children. The job involves assessing children, consulting with parents and health care providers, promoting the center's behavior intervention program and answering the help line. Requirements include a bachelor's degree in a related field and 2 years of professional experience.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

In order to most effectively help clients, you can stay up on all the latest research in your specialized field of intervention. If you work with autistic children, for example, you can read the psychological studies and medical journal articles on how best to communicate with autistic children. You could also consider earning a voluntary certification or joining a professional group with similar broad or niche interests, such as through the Association of Intervention Specialist Certification Board or National Association of Drug and Alcohol Interventionists.

Other Fields to Consider

Mental Health Counselor

If you enjoy the counseling aspect of being an interventionist, you may want to consider becoming a mental health counselor, which may encompass specialty niches such as marriage and family therapy. The mean annual wage for this profession was $49,000 as of 2011, according to the BLS. This career requires a master's degree and state licensure. You would work one-on-one with clients to overcome emotional and relationship issues. You might work in a variety of settings, from large health care facilities to private practices. The BLS projected a 36% growth rate in this profession between 2010 and 2020.

Psychologist

If you want to continue your schooling in the mental health field, you may want to think about becoming a psychologist. Psychologists have PhDs and work as counselors. You may specialize in a certain subfield, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or eating disorders. Like marriage and family therapists, psychologists work in a variety of settings - including private practice and hospitals. According to the BLS, psychologists earned a mean average annual wage of $73,000 as of 2011.

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Johns Hopkins University

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Penn Foster Career School

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Widener University

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  • Master of Social Work

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Colorado Christian University

  • General Studies, A.A.

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