Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers: Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Stan T.Career, OverviewLeave a Comment

Job description

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers assess and treat individuals with mental, emotional, or substance abuse problems, including abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drugs. Activities may include individual and group therapy, crisis intervention, case management, client advocacy, prevention, and education.

  • Counsel clients in individual or group sessions to assist them in dealing with substance abuse, mental or physical illness, poverty, unemployment, or physical abuse.
  • Monitor, evaluate, and record client progress with respect to treatment goals.
  • Interview clients, review records, conduct assessments, or confer with other professionals to evaluate the mental or physical condition of clients or patients.
  • Collaborate with counselors, physicians, or nurses to plan or coordinate treatment, drawing on social work experience and patient needs.
Read more about what does a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker really do at work and what is it like being and working as one.

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Average salary
$49630 per year

Average hourly wage
$24 per hour

Mental Health Social Workers with little to no experience tend to make between $28310 and $34600 while the more experienced ones can earn over $60300 per year.

Top 5 paying states Hourly Annual
NJ $38 $79,130
DC $34 $69,690
HI $33 $67,930
CT $30 $63,290
NY $30 $62,130

One of the easiest ways to increase your salary as a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker is to move to a higher paying state like NJ. Right now, the highest paying states for Mental Health Social Workers are NJ, DC, HI, CT and NY.

However, a higher pay at NJ doesn’t guarantee that you will make more because the living expenses at NJ might be twice as high than where you are currently at now.

Three other factors that can increase your salary as a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker is the degree you hold, the industry you work in, and lastly the company you work for.


Recommended degree level
Master’s degree

We asked other Mental Health Social Workers what degree they had when they got the job and most of them said they had a Master’s Degree followed by a Post-Master’s Certificate.

Other than that, we also asked them what did they major in and here are the most popular majors that came up.

Social Work
Social Work, Other
Clinical/Medical Social Work
Read more about how to become a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker and the degree, training and education you need.

Pros and Cons

Here are some of the pros and cons of being a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker.

Suitable for people who likes to help and teach others
Suitable for people who values achievements and are results-oriented
This career is perfect for people who love to work indoors.
One of the fastest growing careers
Not suitable for people who likes practical and hands-on work
Salary is below average
It is very hard to get into this career. Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience is required for this career.

What is the job like

Job satisfaction

Is this job meaningful

83% of Mental Health Social Workers said they were satisfied with their job and 82% said they feel like their job is making other people’s lives better.

Is this right for me

Best personality for this career
The Helpers and The Thinkers

You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tends to like working with, communicating with, and teaching people. They like helping or providing service to others..

They also like working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. They like searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Learn more about Mental Health Social Workers

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Related career information

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Similar careers

Addictions Counselor, Alcoholism Worker, Case Manager, Case Managers, Case Therapist, Chemical Dependency Counselor, Clinical Social Worker, Clinical Therapist, Clinician, Community Mental Health Social Worker

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