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Top Online Drug Counseling Degrees

Drug counseling degrees prepare learners to work in a growing field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for substance abuse counselors to increase 23% from 2020-2030, which is much faster than average.

Earning a drug counselor degree trains students to help others recover from substance abuse. Enrollees learn best practices for providing treatment to people experiencing drug addiction. Aspiring substance abuse counselors need at least a bachelor's degree. Many schools offer drug counseling degrees online.

This page lists the best online drug counselor degrees. Read on to learn about costs, common classes, and the benefits of earning a substance abuse counseling degree.

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Questions About Drug Counseling

What Degree Do I Need to Become a Drug Counselor?

Most states only require a bachelor's degree in counseling or psychology. Some employers and states prefer candidates with a master's degree. The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) offers contact information for state regulating boards.

Are Drug Counselors in Demand?

The BLS projects around 41,000 annual openings for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors from 2020-2030. This growth may come from the current workforce retiring.

What Jobs Can I Get With a Drug Counseling Degree?

Counselors who work in clinics typically only need a bachelor's degree. However, all states require counselors working in private practice to hold a license. A license requires a master's degree. Graduates with an addictions counselor degree may work in mental health centers, juvenile detention facilities, or detox centers.

Why Get a Degree in Drug Counseling?

Drug counselors provide help and hope for individuals and families who experience the effects of addiction. These professionals may experience a work-life balance. Counselors who work as self-employed individuals can set their own schedules. Thanks to virtual counseling, some professionals work from home.

Just like this career can provide lifestyle flexibility, so can the process of earning the required degree. Students pursuing online drug counseling degrees can listen to lectures and complete assignments around their schedules. This flexibility lets them continue their careers while earning their degree. Online students can also enroll in a top program without commuting or relocating.

How Much Does a Drug Counseling Degree Cost?

An online bachelor's degree costs an average of $51,090, according to However, costs vary by school, degree level, and learners' residency status. Students attending public, in-state schools usually spend less than learners attending private or out-of-state institutions. Some schools waive fees for in-person activities and campus maintenance for virtual learners.

Additional Online Student Fees

Students pursuing a substance abuse counseling degree online should plan for extra costs. For example, they may need to budget for commuting and time off to attend in-person clinical experiences. Some learners may need to buy professional clothes to wear to supervised clinical rotations.

Additionally, many colleges charge a fee for official transcripts and graduation. Online learners may still need to pay for some on-campus services, like access to an on-campus medical or recreation center.

Online learners should also budget for materials and books. They can save money by renting books or buying used or digital versions.

How Much Do Drug Counseling Majors Make?

Substance abuse counselors earn a median $47,660 annually, according to the BLS. However, salary varies by employer and geographic location. For example, drug counselors in Nevada earn a mean annual wage of $68,560. The same Floridian professionals earn $45,960.

Courses in a Drug Counseling Program

Learners pursuing a drug counselor degree hone their active listening skills. They explore the theories that guide the industry's best practices. Most undergraduate drug counseling degrees require around 120 credits. Full-time students can earn a bachelor's in about four years. Graduate degrees may only require 40-60 credits and take two years to finish.

Many schools let degree-seekers select a concentration, specialization, or minor. For example, students who want to work with youth can select an adolescent counseling minor. See below for three common classes in a drug counseling program. Keep in mind that classes vary by school. Consider this list a sample curriculum.

  • Addiction Counseling Approaches and Theories

    This foundational course introduces learners to varying counseling methods. Students explore the theories that justify the approaches. Enrollees discover how cognitive and talk therapy vary. Part of the course highlights rehab's role in the recovery process. Degree-seekers participate in class discussions on case studies.
  • Group Therapy for Drug Use

    Enrollees discover best practices for facilitating group therapy sessions. The class may require learners to engage in mock therapy sessions or shadow a licensed therapist during a session. Part of the course also highlights ethics surrounding a therapy session and when to intervene.
  • Addiction Research

    This class combines the study and application of addiction research. Learners identify possible gaps in industry research. They then construct their own study to test a theory or to fill the information gap. Upon completion, students can submit their findings to a scholarly journal for publication consideration.

How to Become a Drug Counselor

Drug counselors need at least a bachelor's degree. Professionals with a bachelor's degree typically require more supervision than those with an advanced degree. Counselors who want to begin a private practice need a master's degree and a license.

Degree-seekers complete research projects, essays, and supervised clinical experience during their academic studies. After earning the appropriate degree, learners can work toward licensure to practice independently. They may work for a clinic to gain supervised hours before applying for licensure.

Licensure for Drug Counselors

Each state sets its own requirements for licensure and certification. For example, aspiring drug counselors in Missouri need a bachelor's degree from an accredited school. They can become Missouri-certified reciprocal alcohol drug counselors by completing work experience and clinical hours. The required amounts vary based on education level.

For licensure, all 50 U.S. states require an exam by the NBCC for licensure. The organization's site features an interactive map with each state's licensure requirements. States require around 3,000 supervised hours for licensure.

Licensure exams require a fee. Licensed counselors must also pay fees to renew their licenses. Most states require around 40 continuing education hours to qualify for renewal. Licensed drug counselors who want to move their practice to a different state may need to meet additional requirements. However, many states participate in reciprocity agreements.

Top Online Drug Counseling Degrees

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