There are many misconceptions about the requirements needed to become a drug counselor.

It may seem like you need to go back to school, or at least study some more, in order to learn everything, you need to know in order to help people with their drug and alcohol addictions, but that’s not the case at all! Here’s the truth about what it takes to become a drug counselor without the right degree.

How can I learn about becoming a drug counselor?

If you’re serious about becoming a drug counselor, start by looking into your state’s licensure requirements. Then, select an educational program. Some programs are geared towards specific populations, so choose one that focuses on adults or adolescents.

Finally, complete your degree and look for jobs as a drug counselor. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment growth of 6% in rehab counselors between 2016 and 2026—much faster than average. If you want to learn more about what it takes to become a drug counselor, keep reading!

Skills & Requirements: To become a drug counselor, you’ll need strong communication skills and people skills; many patients come with complicated social situations that might have contributed to their substance abuse issues. But, don’t let their needs scare you away from studying counseling!

Most drugs counselors work directly with patients, but some work at residential treatment facilities.

All counselors have at least a master’s degree in behavioral health (which usually requires completing 2 years of classes) plus additional training specific to treating substance abuse. According to Payscale, licensed clinical social workers make around $60k per year ($30-35 per hour).

However, therapists are often eligible for bonuses when they refer new clients–and can earn even more when these referred clients stay in therapy long term.

 

How much does it cost to become a drug counselor?

To work as a drug counselor, you’ll need at least an undergraduate degree in social work or some similar field. But do you need to get your master’s or doctorate?

It depends on your employer. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that many people who become drug counselors have advanced degrees, but there are still plenty of entry-level jobs available for those with bachelor’s degrees alone.

A review of bureau statistics shows that employees with bachelor’s degrees earned a median annual salary of $41,980; those with master’s degrees brought home $55,070; and those with doctorates earned an average annual income of $66,410.

 

What degree do I need to become a drug counselor?

Like many professionals, drug counselors need post-secondary education. According to Kevin Zaborney, LADC (Board Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor), you don’t need a master’s degree to become a drug counselor—but it might help!

Many employers require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in any field of study. However, there are several reasons you may still want to get your master’s in counseling.

First, most private practitioners require it; they need at least two years of experience under their belt before they can be licensed as independent counselors.

Second, completing both an undergraduate and graduate program will give you more advanced skills than just one without the other. Getting a master’s degree is like going back to school for another four years. Some people find it challenging, but those who do earn real job benefits: higher salary potential and better opportunities for advancement.

In fact, getting your masters could make all the difference between getting hired by a corporation or being able to create your own business from home. With that said, let’s take a look at what goes into earning these degrees!

 

What are my career options if I don’t have a degree in drug counseling?

If you don’t have an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree in drug counseling, you might wonder if your education options are limited. And while some states do require that counselors be licensed—an added obstacle if you don’t have a degree—many drug counseling positions are available without one.

For example, community outreach workers can work as part of interdisciplinary teams, which often consist of professionals with varying degrees and specialties. These workers provide outreach and education to others on issues such as nutrition, mental health and addiction recovery.

If that sounds like something you could handle, keep in mind that most community outreach workers focus on public-health initiatives within low-income communities.

 

What credentials do I get with an online certificate in drug counseling?

Anyone can become an online drug counselor and become qualified to work in substance abuse treatment facilities. However, if you do want to obtain an official certification, your best bet is enrolling in an online program that grants you both a degree and accredited certification.

Your program will cover everything from assessing clients’ needs and strengths, through goal-setting, therapy and recovery processes. Some programs even help you prepare for state licensing exams (though your school will not provide details on how or where to apply).

That being said, these programs can be quite expensive; bachelor’s degrees typically cost anywhere from $30-$50k on average. Although many employers prefer those with at least a bachelors, many people begin their careers with one of our online certificates and then transfer over to a more advanced program as they progress up their career ladder.

Either way, an accredited certificate or associate’s degree will set you apart as qualified professional who has met specific education standards in order to effectively counsel others.

In some cases, candidates who have already obtained an undergraduate degree can actually pursue less hours than they would have needed without it—saving them time and money!

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