It may be possible to begin a career as a drug rehab technician with a high school diploma; however, most employers prefer postsecondary education and licensing is required in some states.
Drug rehab technicians often work at rehabilitation centers, but they can also work at hospitals, correctional facilities and community outreach centers. They help patients stay on track with drug rehabilitation therapy, inform patients about treatment options and monitor their progress. Most drug rehab technicians possess an academic background related to counseling and social services. This is also a licensed career, though state requirements to licensure vary.
|Required Education||High school diploma or higher, depending on the state|
|Other Requirements||Licensure as a substance abuse technician or counselor, depending on the state|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||11% for social and human service assistants*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$30,830 for social and human service assistants*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Drug Rehab Technician Job Duties
Under the larger career category of social and human services assistants, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that assistants and technicians in the rehabilitation industries often worked under the supervision of other medical professionals, such as doctors and psychiatrists (www.bls.gov). Drug rehab technicians, who are referred to as drug rehabilitation counselors in some states, help patients overcome drug addictions through both group and one-on-one therapy sessions.
Technicians often follow the therapeutic care instructions of physicians or social workers. Common duties include routinely checking in on patients and helping them learn the vocational skills needed to rebuild their lives. Drug rehab technicians keep careful notes concerning each patient's progress throughout the rehabilitation program.
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The BLS predicted that open positions for workers in the social and human services assistants industry would increase by 11% from 2014-2024. Although the BLS showed that the majority of positions would open up for assistants in mental health fields, it also reported that, due to more and more drug offenders being sentenced to rehab programs in lieu of prison, the need for drug rehab technicians is also increasing. This, combined with relatively high rate of turnover, has resulted in the high job growth rate.
Salary statistics from the BLS show that the average annual salary earned by social and human services assistants throughout the country was $30,830 as of May 2015. During that same year, workers at residential intellectual and developmental disability, mental health, and substance abuse facilities earned an average annual salary of $27,850. States with the highest average annual salaries in 2015 included Connecticut, California, the District of Columbia, Nevada and New Jersey.
As of 2015, the BLS reports that social and human services employers often prefer to hire candidates who have some college training. However, because a few states consider drug rehab technicians to be the equivalent of drug rehabilitation counselors or social workers, standard education requirements vary significantly. In some states, drug rehab technicians only need a high school diploma; other states require technicians to hold undergraduate or graduate degrees. In addition, licensure as a substance abuse technician or counselor may be required, which usually entails completion of a post-secondary training program and clinical experience hours.
Undergraduate degree and certificate programs in substance abuse counseling can provide workers with a strong academic foundation for this career field. Common topics include addiction counseling, group counseling techniques, abnormal psychology and case management. Most degree programs require students to participate in field experiences or internships that involve direct interaction with patients at rehabilitation centers.
The 11% job growth expected for social and human service assistants from 2014-2024 is faster than average compared to all occupations. Applicants with postsecondary training in counseling or substance abuse should be able to compete effectively for openings in this field.