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What Type of Income Does an Addiction Counselor Make in California?

The state of California fearlessly supports the growing need for addiction counselors. Now more than ever many of California's citizen's struggle with many mental health issues and at the top of that list includes addiction issues. From eating disorders to sex addiction, the ramifications and consequences of a patient's life and those lives around him/her who don't get properly treated can be drastic. It's important to have addiction counselors that are correctly certified, educated and with a level of compassion and care that is at the forefront of their motivation. Many students go to school for advanced degrees so that they can make a difference but do they understand the big picture for their careers? How many people really know what they're getting into before they begin their education and more importantly, know what they can expect to make per year doing it?

Pay Scale for a California Addiction Counselor

California's pay scale will always depend on the certification level you have earned, how many years of experience you have in your field and the budget of your employer. If you hold an associate's degree in addictive counseling, you can't expect to make as much as someone who has a master's degree. Since addiction counselors in the state of California are needed, the salary they have the potential of making is very good. Whether you are employed at a treatment center, halfway house or hospital will determine what salary you will make but on average, a addiction counselor who has finished their residency and passed their state exam can expect to make on average $32,960 per year. As they progress in years of experience and move to an employer who has a private versus state budget to work with for example, their salary can go up by $10,000 or down by $5,000 or more. California offers an abundance of opportunity and in a variety of work environments that support a healthy and plentiful lifestyle, so keep in mind that the higher degree you hold, the more opportunity you have to increase your salary.

A counselor with several years of experience under his/her belt can easily increase this salary to well over $50,000. According to Indeed.com, the average starting salary for a certified addiction counselor in a clinical setting was $53,000 for May 2011. Are you currently earning your counseling degree or just thinking about starting your education with a focus on addiction counseling? If you live in California, there are many jobs with competitive pay for the right candidate. Breaking down the average salary for a licensed addiction therapist with a few years of experience, they can expect to make$14-$18 dollars an hour. When they increase the amount of time they have worked and have five to twenty years of experience, they can expect to make $44,000-$62,000 a year. No matter how many years you may have as an experienced addiction counselor or whether you are just thinking about becoming a counselor to treat those with addiction tendencies, the work is rewarding and very much is need.

Know Yourself and Pick the Right Specialty

During your studies, you will have to decide what your primary focus will be. As an addiction counselor, do you want to focus on substance abuse or adolescent addiction issues? Will you concentrate on one gender or age group? Sometimes it's not always easy to determine what will keep your interest as you go forward with your career, but by taking in the big picture such as what the coursework entails and what the salary looks like can help you to make your decision. For example in the state of California, salaries vary between the various specialties. If your focus is getting a degree as a substance abuse counselor, the average starting salary is $30,000 while becoming specialized in chemical dependency can earn you $59,000. An adolescent substance abuse counselor can make as much as $70,000 while a behavioral health counselor in a clinical setting can make $69,000 on average. It can help some students to think about what their primary goal is. Is it making the most you can possible make as an addiction counselor or it more about working in a particular environment? Whatever path you choose, the facts are you are making a difference to an unlimited amount of lives and will continue to do so for as long as you are in the field. Becoming educated with the right level of degree for your career goals are important and secondly, know what your interests and motivations are well enough to pick the right type of focus.