Working as a peer support specialist can be a rewarding job for people who have made a recovery from mental illness or addiction.
A peer support specialist is a person who has made enough progress in their recovery from a mental disorder or addiction that they can work with others that have the same disorder. A peer support specialist has life experience that is relevant, often providing insights that professional training cannot replicate.
Tasks commonly performed by a peer support specialist include assisting clients in setting and pursuing their recovery goals, monitoring and quantifying their progress, lending assistance with treatment, and leading by example when it comes to coping strategies that have been helpful in their own recovery.
Peer support specialists can work in private hospitals or government programs. The prerequisites will vary by job; some will require certification while others will hire based on experience and the applicant's recovery level.
Peer support specialists can receive certification through state certification boards. National programs also offer certification. If working for a state or federal government hospital, certification is often mandatory.
As of July 2010, the average salary for a peer support specialist ranged from $25,000 to $35,000. Private hospitals pay on the higher end of the salary range and government programs fall on the lower end. Certification can result in a higher salary range.