Addiction Treatment Professionals Pay Comes Up Short in Survey

You can make more money as the manager of a fast food restaurant than as a licensed social worker with a master’s degree, according to a new survey. The 2011 Behavioral Health Salary Survey found that addiction treatment and mental health professionals are paid much lower salaries than their counterparts in other healthcare sectors.

The survey, released by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (National Council), included more than 850 mental health and addictions treatments organizations. The results indicate that the median salary of a direct care worker in a 24-hour residential treatment center is $23,000 a year compared with $25,589 for an assistant manager at Burger King.

The survey also found that the yearly salary range for a chief medical officer at a behavioral health organization is $101,000–$150,000, much lower than the national average of $183,947–$292,395 for the same position in other types of healthcare organizations. Social workers employed in a mental health-addictions treatment organization also make less than their colleagues in general health care agencies.

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    jane sinclair

    April 9, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    I have a dual BA from a liberal arts college (prior to addictions specific training)and I returned to school to obtain a “Certificate in Addictions Counseling” 24 cr. hours. I worked for three years in the field, applied for certification and was told I had to return to school and get a BA or AA in a Human Services field. (This is after my certificate and 3000 hrs as a trainee) How do I pay to return to college at $12 dollars per hour? I had excellent performance evaluations doing exactly the same job as a certified counselor! What is up with this “profession”?

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    July 24, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    qualified than MSWs, unless they have taken extra classes. In fact, at my grad school, unless you took an elective about substance abuse, you will barely learn anything useful about the subject. One last thing, I take exception to Fr. Jack Kearney’s comment about the lack of ethics in our field. The social work & CASAC codes if ethics maintain high standards, however, in any profession, there can be individuals who lack an ethical or moral compass- that goes for higher paid psychologists & psychiatrists.

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    July 24, 2011 at 10:43 AM

    I live and work in NYC where salaries for both social workers and drug counselors (CASAC) are outrageously low. Although I had no interest in becoming a social worker, I had to if I wanted to make anything close to a living wage. I just spent $60,000 for a MSW so I could get my license & get paid more. I also agree that as a CASAC I am way m

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    Jose Drasich

    May 16, 2011 at 7:30 PM

    The issue here is the counselor can not prescribe Rx., where the real profit is.

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