The term AODA counselor stands for alcohol and other drug abuse counselor. AODA counselors provide treatment to patients recovering from alcohol and substance abuse problems. In some cases, this treatment is voluntary; in others, patients are mandated to seek substance abuse counseling as part of criminal sentencing. A career as an AODA counselor typically requires a master's degree.
Average Pay and Pay Range
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, substance abuse counselors made an average of $19.67 an hour and an average of $40,920 a year as of May 2012. Half of all substance abuse counselors in the U.S. earned annual pay ranging from $30,850 to $48,330. The top 10 percent of drug abuse counselors earned more than $60,000, while the lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,140 annually.
Location played a significant part in the expected salaries for AODA counselors in 2012, with those working in the Northeast and the states surrounding the Great Lakes earning the most. In general, substance abuse counselors working in the South Central region tended to earn the least. Across the nation, average pay by state ranged from a low of $26,550 per year in West Virginia to a high of $51,290 in Michigan.
Schools Pay More
As of 2012, the BLS reports that schools tend to pay substance abuse counselors more than other types of employers. Colleges and universities paid them an average of $55,320 per year, while elementary and secondary schools paid an average of $51,300 per year. Local governments also paid an above-average salary, at $46,250 per year, while AODA counselors employed by general hospitals brought home an average of $49,450 per year, and those working for psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals earned an average of $44,630 per year. At the lower end of the pay scale, AODA counselors working at residential mental health and substance abuse facilities averaged $36,580 per year.
According to the BLS, the job outlook for AODA and behavioral disorder counselors should be excellent through 2020. While the BLS expects the American economy to add jobs at an average rate of 14 percent between 2010 and 2020, jobs for substance abuse counselors are expected to grow at a rate of 27 percent. This rate of growth will create an estimated 23,400 new positions in the field over the course of the decade, in addition to positions left vacant due to employee turnover.
2016 Salary Information for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors earned a median annual salary of $41,070 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors earned a 25th percentile salary of $32,470, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $52,690, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 102,400 people were employed in the U.S. as substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors.