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AA Counselor: Job Outlook & Career Info

Read about a career in AA counseling. Research the educational and skill requirements, and learn about the job description and employment and salary outlook for an AA counselor.

Career Definition for an AA Counselor

Counselors for Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) are responsible for running and moderating AA groups and AA meetings. Specific duties of an AA counselor include introducing new group members, matching new members with sponsors, evaluating members' recovery needs, purchasing and setting up refreshments, liaising with group members' parole or probation officers, and providing treatment referrals. Non-profit groups, government-sponsored substance abuse treatment programs and religious groups or churches often employ AA counselors. The majority of substance abuse counselors work full time, but many AA counselors work part time and lead meetings during nights and weekends.

Required Education Varies by state, agency and group; a bachelor's degree in a related field is generally required
Job Duties Include introducing new group members, matching new members with sponsors, liaising with group members' parole or probation officers
Median Salary (2017)* $43,300 (all substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 23% growth (all substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

The requirements to work as an AA counselor vary by state and depend on the agency or group. Generally, counselors must have at least a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as substance abuse counseling, addiction therapy or mental health counseling. Other facilities might look for candidates with a master's degree in a similar field. Common courses in these programs include theories of substance abuse, theories of addiction, alcoholism counseling, human psychology and techniques for individual and group therapy.

Licensing Requirements

Licensure is required for some substance abuse counselors. Applicants must pass a state exam and pursue continuing education courses to obtain licensure.

Required Skills

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that successful AA counselors must have the following skills:

  • Compassion and sensitivity when hearing people's deeply personal stories, fears and regrets
  • Good communication and group management skills
  • Patience when handling stressful situations with clients

Employment and Salary Outlook

According to 2017 data from the BLS, the economic outlook for fields like AA counseling and therapy was excellent; job growth among substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors was expected to grow by 23% from 2016-2026. A preference for sending offenders to treatment instead of jail or prison is helping to propel continued growth in this field. Those with relevant formal training had the best job prospects. Median annual earnings for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors were $43,300 in 2017.


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