Substance Abuse Counselor Salary

The average Substance Abuse Counselor Salary is calculated by the US Government Bureau of Labor Statistics from a variety of sources. Substance Abuse Counselors work in a number of settings including hospitals, clinics, public health, and private practices.

Substance Abuse Counselors wages vary depending on the location and the setting. The assumption was made that the substance abuse counselors reflected here were working an average of 40 hours per week with a total of 2080 hours per year.

Median Hourly & Annual Data


A Substance Abuse Counselor's average wage is $18.52 per hour. The lowest 10% earn $12.12 per hour and those in the upper 10% earn more than $28.93 per hour.


On an annual basis the median salary is $38,620. The lowest 10% earn a salary of $25,200 per year while the upper 10% earn more than $60,160 per year. These salaries are calculated as a mean or average.

Percentile 10% 25% 50% 75% 90%
Hourly Wage $12.12 $14.85 $18.57 $23.47 $28.93
Annual Wage $25,200 $30,890 $38,620 $48,810 $60,160

Lowest and Highest Substance Abuse Counselor Salary

The lowest paid Substance Abuse Counselor earns less with mean or average wages below $13.00 per hour. Presumably this is offset by costs of living and other factors. The lower pay levels are associated with rural areas and schools. The highest pay levels are found in major population areas where the mean or average wage is over $29.00 per hour. Demand and low supply seem to be a significant factor in fueling higher salaries.

Top 5 States

The top paying states are Michigan $50,890, Utah $49,760, New Jersey $49,460, Alaska $48,690 and North Dakota $47,900.

Top 5 Metropolitan Areas

The best city or metropolitan areas to earn a living as a Substance Abuse Counselor are New York-White Plains-Wayne NY-NJ $47,260, Philadelphia, PA $39,800, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA $33,960, Pittsburgh, PA $37,020 and Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL $38,380.

Click here to see the salary of Substance Abuse Counselor for all 50 states

Other Industries that employ Substance Abuse Counselors: Insurance companies, Hospitals, Churches, Federal Executive branch, military and private consulting services.

Where They Work

Of all the Substance Abuse Counselors are employed in the United States the majority of them work in a mental health clinic or treatment facility. However, private or group practice setting and can be found in clinics or medical office buildings. A small number can be found working directly in hospitals or other medical centers.

Private Practice vs. Employment

Virtually all substance abuse counselors work within a medical facility, clinic or treatment facility. However, a few substance abuse counselors are employed by federal or state governments along with being in private practice. 


Fringe benefits will vary depending on business size and other factors.  A typical employment benefits package is worth over $20,000 per year.

International Salary for Substance Abuse Counselors


UK (1)

·         Trainee substance abuse counselors and clinical psychologists start at Band 6 (£25,783) of the NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) Pay Rates . After qualification, salaries within the National Health Service (NHS) start at Band 7. A typical starting salary would be in the region of £30,764.

·         More experienced psychologists and counselors (Band 8a) can earn up to £47,088. Band 8b-d roles apply to senior experienced psychologists, possibly managing departments or large specialist sections with responsibility for the psychology service and its staff. Salaries in these posts range from £45,707 to more than £81,000 for top-level posts.

·         The NHS pays a London high cost area supplement at 20% of basic salary for inner London, 15% for outer London and 5% for fringe areas.

·         Salaries in private hospitals and private practice vary.

·         Working hours are generally 9am to 5pm, with the possibility of extra hours in the evening or at weekends. Occasionally, an on-call system covering emergency situations may be in operation.

·         Self-employment or freelance work is sometimes possible. Opportunities for private or clinical practice, and for industrial or commercial consultancy, are growing.

·         Jobs are available in most large towns and cities, with fewer opportunities in rural areas.

·         The work can be stressful as it involves contact with many different types of people who are often distressed in some way. Supervision by colleagues is important. Occasionally, situations of potential personal risk may be encountered.

Canada (2)

Most full time Substance Abuse Counselors in Canada will earn between $55,000 and $70,000 a year.  For the most part, employment prospects for this occupation are very good.  Job titles and exact duties vary in this occupation and examples of some job responsibilities are: counseling patients, arranging treatments, organizing caseloads and scheduling appointments.  

A typical full-time annual salary for this occupation is in the region of $55,000 – $70,000.

According to the latest figures, the highest hourly average wages are earned in Calgary, Alberta at $41.54 per hour and the lowest average wages are earned in Fredericton, New Brunswick at $25.61 per hour.

Employment prospects for Substance Abuse Counselors in Canada is very good. The government forecasts that because the Canadian population is aging, therefore the demand in this and other health fields will increase for the near future due to increase in the aging population.

Australia (3)

Substance Abuse Counselors as well as other physicians provide a great deal of support to their patients and the medical community.  Psychologists evaluate, diagnose and treat patients with a variety of issues and concerns to promote emotional and mental well-being. They should have excellent communication and reasoning abilities in order to work with patients and evaluate progress.

The average salary for a Substance Abuse Counselor is $75,000 a year with the starting salary at $45,000 and the senior salary at $130,000.  These wages are based on education, skills, experience and employers.  The worker in this profession works an average of forty hours a week.  As of November 2012 approximately 20,000 worked as Substance Abuse Counselors 

The job industry outlook is very positive for these position and employment in these areas has risen by 31% over the last few years.  The top three regions in Australia for Substance Abuse Counselors are NSW 28.2%, VIC 23.2% and QLD 20.9%.

Substance Abuse Counselors work often work highly-stressful but awarding jobs and can be employed in a number of places, including hospitals, private clinics, schools, the armed forces, etc.