Professionals who treat conditions such as eating disorders are known as behavioral disorder counselors. In addition to behavioral problems such as eating disorders and gambling addictions, they may work with patients who have drug and alcohol addictions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most behavioral disorder counselors earn a master's degree before becoming licensed to practice.
Average National Salary
The median-earning 50 percent of behavioral disorder counselors reported annual salaries ranging from $30,850 to $48,330 to the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2012. Twenty-five percent of counselors earned below this range, and 25 percent reported salaries falling above this range. Across the nation, the average wage for this occupation was $19.67 an hour, and the average salary was $40,920 a year.
Salary by Work Setting
Behavioral disorder counselors working for colleges and universities reported a higher average salary than those in any other work setting as of 2012: $55,320 a year. Behavioral disorder counselors employed by elementary and secondary schools earned a relatively high average of $51,300. Those on the payroll of local governments also reported a relatively high salary for this occupation, an average of $46,250 a year. Of those working in medical settings, behavioral disorder counselors employed by general hospitals averaged $49,450, and those in outpatient care centers averaged $39,240 per year.
Salary by State
Salaries for behavioral disorder counselors varied significantly by state in 2012. According to the BLS, Michigan was the highest-paying state, with an average reported salary of $51,290 a year. Alaska reported the second-highest pay: $50,270 per year. New Jersey ranked third at $49,990 per year. Other high-paying states with average pay rates of between $45,000 and $47,500 included Connecticut, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Maryland and Virginia. With an average reported salary of $26,550 per year, West Virginia was the lowest-paying state in the nation. Other states with low average pay rates of between $30,000 and $35,000 included Rhode Island, Louisiana, Mississippi and Missouri.
The job outlook for behavioral disorder counselors should be very good through 2020. The BLS expects employment growth for this profession to proceed at a rate of 27 percent between 2010 and 2020, nearly double the average rate of growth expected for the American economy. This rate of growth will create about 23,400 new jobs for behavioral disorder and substance abuse counselors by 2020. In addition, this field has a high turnover rate, which should make the prospects for finding employment even better for trained individuals seeking to enter the field.