Drug Rehabilitation Careers: Salary Info & Job Descriptions

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Learn about careers related to drug rehabilitation. Get job descriptions, salary and education requirement information. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of a career in the area of drug rehabilitation.
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Pros and Cons of a Drug Rehabilitation Career

In the 2012 edition of the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which is put out by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a career in drug rehabilitation is discussed under the career heading of substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors. Two occupations that may deal with drug rehabilitation are rehabilitation counselors as well as mental health counselors or marriage and family therapists. Below is a table comparing some of the characteristics of these careers:

Substance Abuse and Behavior Disorder Counselor Rehabilitation Counselor Mental Health Counselor or Marriage and Family Therapist
Career Overview Substance abuse and behavior disorder counselors advise individuals who have addiction and behavior problems in order to rehabilitate them or modify their behavior. Rehabilitation counselors help people who have physical or emotional disabilities, which can sometimes accompany drug abuse return to being independent, functioning members of society. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help individuals, couples and families overcome various difficulties in order to establish or reestablish functioning, healthy relationships that may have suffered as a result of a drug addiction.
Education Requirements High school diploma-master's degree Master's degree Master's degree
Program Length 0-6 years, full-time, if master's degree is obtained Six years, full-time, including bachelor's and master's degrees 5-6 years, full-time, including bachelor's and master's degree
Certification and Licensing License required for those in private practice License required for those in private practice License required
Experience Required Some on-the-job training; 2,000-3,000 hours of post-master's supervised clinical experience 2,000-3,000 hours of post-master's supervised clinical experience Internship or residency
Job Outlook for 2012-2022 Much faster than average (31%)* Faster than average (20%)* Much faster than average (29%)*
Mean Salary (May 2014) $41,870* $37,890* $43,990*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of labor Statistics

Substance Abuse and Behavior Disorder Counselor

Substance abuse counselors deal with and advise individuals who are suffering from one or more addictions or behavior disorders. These can include drug abuse, alcohol abuse or even eating disorders. Your duties and level of responsibility will be based on the amount of formal training and clinical experience you have obtained. You may work in a residential or outpatient treatment facility or institution. With advanced training, you may be able to go into private practice as part of a professional group or on an individual basis.

Requirements

The BLS states that in some cases, you may only need a high school diploma in order to become a substance abuse and behavior disorder counselor. However, the range of services and treatment you can provide will be somewhat limited. You'll also need considerable on-the-job training. If you want to go into private practice, you'll need to be licensed. In order to be licensed, you'll need a master's degree and have 2,000-3,000 hours of supervised practical, clinical work experience. The Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) offers a directory listing all addiction study degree and certificate programs offered throughout the country. Requirements for counselors other than those in private practice may differ from state to state. You can find out your state's licensure and certification requirements through the ATTC or the directory of state licensure boards offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).

Below are examples of what employers were looking for in December 2012:

  • A not-for-profit sibling foster care program in Florida was looking for a substance abuse counselor. Candidates were required to have graduated from an accredited university with a master's degree in an area such as psychology or social work; be licensed by the state to practice as a marriage and family therapist, clinical social worker or mental health counselor; and be certified by the state as an addiction professional or criminal justice addiction professional.
  • A health services provider for the Indiana Department of Corrections was seeking a substance abuse counselor for one of the state's correctional facilities. Candidates needed to hold a bachelor's degree in psychology or a related area and state certification as a substance abuse counselor. The employer preferred that candidates be experienced working in a correctional facility setting.
  • A not-for-profit, charitable organization in New York wanted to hire a bilingual substance abuse counselor. Candidates needed to have a bachelor's degree in social work or a related area and a minimum of two years of work experience in substance abuse and mental health counseling. Candidates were also required to hold a state certificate as a Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) and be able to speak both English and Spanish.

Standing Out

The BLS states that your opportunities for employment and advancement in this career can be significantly enhanced if you hold a master's degree. Your prospects may be even more promising if you have specialized training in areas such as individual and family counseling and therapy, behavior modification, prevention, psychology or sociology. Depending on location and other factors, you may stand out from the pack by being fluent in two or more languages.

Rehabilitation Counselor

Working with individuals who are suffering from social, behavioral emotional or physical disabilities - all of which can accompany drug abuse - rehabilitation counselors assess each person's capabilities to create a treatment protocol that can help him or her effectively deal with those disabilities. They may provide counseling and guidance and work in cooperation with other clinical professionals. They locate appropriate resources and monitor client progress and see to it that their rights are observed within their personal, social and work environments.

Requirements

According to the BLS, most rehabilitation counselors are required to hold a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling or a similar area. Although some employers will hire rehabilitation counselors with a bachelor's degree, the services provided by such professionals are more limited than those with a master's degree. As a rule, a master's degree program will include an internship or a specified amount of supervised work experience. Employers generally prefer to hire licensed rehabilitation counselors. If you intend to go into private practice, a license is necessary. Licensure mandates that you hold a master's degree and have accumulated 2,000-3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. You'll also have to sit for a state-approved examination. You can find out your state's exact licensure requirements through the NBCC.

The BLS further states that employers may prefer to hire individuals who are Certified Rehabilitation Counselors (CRC). You can become certified by meeting education and experience requirements and sitting for an examination offered by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC).

Here is what employers were seeking in December 2012:

  • A not-for-profit personal recovery program in New York that specialized in mental illness wanted to hire a full-time rehabilitation counselor. Candidates needed a high school diploma or a bachelor's degree and to have work experience in the mental health field. Candidates also had to possess a state driver's license. In order to receive approval from the New York State Office of Mental Health, candidates were to submit to and pass a criminal background and fingerprint check.
  • In Arizona, a not-for-profit healthcare services provider was seeking a full-time rehabilitation specialist. Job duties focused on providing psychosocial rehabilitation for individuals with mental health problems in hopes of achieving educational or employment goals. Candidates needed a bachelor's degree in psychiatric rehabilitation, social services or a similar area. The employer preferred that candidates also have two years of qualifying work experience in mental health.
  • A healthcare services provider in Pennsylvania was looking for a full-time psychiatric rehabilitation counselor. The center concentrated on dealing with clients who have been unsuccessful in past programs dealing with psychiatric, drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Candidates needed a bachelor's or master's degree in psychology or a related field and 1-2 years work experience in therapeutic community or psychiatric care.

Standing Out

A master's degree and certification can prove to your advantage in standing out from your competition for jobs. The BLS notes that there will be an increased need for rehabilitation counselors who can deal effectively with veterans who were disabled by way of their service experience and may now be dealing with substance abuse, so you may distinguish yourself by specializing in veterans' services.

Mental Health Counselor or Marriage and Family Therapist

As the BLS states, overcoming emotional and mental disorders that can create dysfunction within the family unit is the primary focus of mental health counselors as well as marriage and family therapists. They may diagnose and treat disorders and guide clients into making appropriate, beneficial decisions about their lives and relationships.

Requirements

The BLS asserts that all states require mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists to be licensed. In order to be licensed, you must hold a master's degree. You can generally qualify to enter a master's degree program with a bachelor's degree in almost any major. Master's degree programs usually entail an internship or a specified period of supervised work experience. Mental health counselors are also required to sit for a state-approved licensure examination. You can determine your state's specific requirements through NBCC.

In addition to a master's degree, marital and family therapists must complete two years of supervised clinical work. They must also sit for a state-approved licensure examination. You can determine your state's individual requirements through the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB).

Here's what some employers were advertising for in December 2012:

  • A tribal health clinic in Nevada was looking to hire a marriage and family therapist as well as a professional counselor. Candidates needed to be a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) or a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Nevada. Candidates for the counselor position were also to hold a credential as a Certified Professional Counselor (CPC). Candidates needed 3-5 years of clinical experience in the mental health field and were to produce proof of professional liability insurance.
  • A not-for-profit health services provider in Pennsylvania was looking for a full-time mental health professional. Candidates needed a master's or doctoral degree from an accredited postsecondary institution in psychology, social work, counseling or a similar field. Candidates were to be licensed in marital and family therapy, social work or professional counseling; have 1-2 years of qualifying work experience, be willing to work a flexible schedule and pass a background clearance check.
  • A youth services facility in North Carolina was seeking a family counselor. It offered a non-traditional, flexible schedule that would require dealing with 4-5 families. Candidates were required to have a bachelor's or master's degree in marriage and family therapy, criminal justice, social work, psychology or counseling. Bachelor's degree holders needed to have completed two years and master's degree holders needed to have completed one year of appropriate, post-degree, full-time work experience. Candidates would also need to hold state licensure in their specialty.

Standing Out

While state licensure is required, you may find that specific specializations can help you stand out from the pack. The BLS notes that overall employment for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists is projected to increase 29% from 2012-2022. Meanwhile, opportunities for marriage and family therapists alone are expected to increase 31% over the same time period, so you may find it will work to your advantage to make that area of specialization a priority.

Popular Schools

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    1. Kaplan University

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    2. Saint Leo University

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      • BA: Psychology - Clinical/Counseling
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Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master: Psychology/Addictions
  • Master: Psychology/Applied Behavioral Analysis
  • BS in Psychology in Addictions
  • Bachelor: Health and Wellness

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Saint Leo University

  • BA: Psychology - Clinical/Counseling

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Regent University

  • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology - Clinical and Counseling Psychology

What is your highest level of education completed?

Colorado State University Global

  • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration

What is your highest level of education?

South College

  • Bachelor of Science in Health Science - Pre-Physical Therapy
  • Bachelor of Science in Health Science - Pre-Physician Assistant
  • Associate of Science in Health Science
  • Associate of Science in Health Science - Pre-Nursing

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Post University

  • B.S. in Human Services / Counseling

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South University

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  • Healthcare Administration (MHA)

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Penn Foster High School

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