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Teen Drug Abuse Counselor: Job Duties & Career Requirements

Explore a career as a drug abuse counselor for teens. Learn about the education and skills needed, in addition to the salary and employment outlook expectations, to see if you want to pursue this career.

Career Definition for a Teen Drug Abuse Counselor

Teen drug abuse counseling is a specialization in the field of substance abuse and behavioral disorder counseling. Counselors in this specialty work with youth to prevent and treat drug abuse. Typical duties include conducting life skills groups or educational classes, processing patient in-takes and assessments, providing crisis counseling, conducting individual and group therapy sessions, setting up individual recovery plans, and providing referrals when necessary.

Required Education Vary by state; a bachelor's degree in a relevant field is the norm
Job Duties Conducting life skills groups/educational classes, processing patient in-takes and assessments, providing referrals where necessary
Median Salary (2015)* $39,980 (all substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 22% growth (all substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

The requirements to become a teen drug abuse counselor vary by state. Generally, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree from a 4-year school in a relevant field, and some states may require a master's degree. Relevant degree programs include social and behavioral science, social work and counseling; coursework in these programs includes individual and group therapy techniques, psychological and social development and alcohol and substance abuse theory.

Necessary Skills

To succeed as a teen drug abuse counselor, you should be passionate about working with youth and helping them to solve their problems. Having good inter-personal and communications skills and being able to relate to your clients will help you as a teen drug abuse counselor.

Employment and Economic Outlook

The employment outlook for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors is excellent, with the number of jobs expected to increase by 22% from 2014-2024, according to information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median annual earnings of behavioral disorder and substance abuse counselors were $39,980 in May 2015.

Alternate Career Options

Here are some examples of alternative career options:

School and Career Counselor

Those who want to help students with school success and social skills, or to guide young people in career decisions, might be interested in this career, which usually requires a master's degree in counseling and state credentials. The BLS predicted 8% employment growth for these counselors, from 2014-2024, which is average compared to all occupations. As of May 2015, educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors earned an annual median wage of $53,660, the BLS reported.

Social and Community Service Manager

With at least a bachelor's degree in social work or a related field, in addition to some work experience, these managers supervise and coordinate community programs providing services to the public. In 2014, the BLS projected faster-than-average job growth of 10% through 2024, and reported an annual median salary of $63,530 in 2015.

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