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Career and Education Opportunities for Substance Abuse Specialists in Tucson, Arizona

If you want to be a substance abuse specialist, the Tucson, Arizona area offers many opportunities both for education and employment. There are currently 470 working substance abuse specialists in Arizona; this should grow by 35% to about 630 working substance abuse specialists in the state by 2016. This is better than the national trend for substance abuse specialists, which sees this job pool growing by about 21.0% over the next eight years. In general, substance abuse specialists counsel and advise individuals with alcohol, tobacco, or other problems, such as gambling and eating disorders.

A person working as a substance abuse specialist can expect to earn about $19 hourly or $41,550 per year on average in Arizona and about $17 hourly or $37,030 per year on average in the U.S. as a whole. Substance abuse specialists earn more than people working in the category of Counseling and Therapy generally in Arizona and less than people in the Counseling and Therapy category nationally. Jobs in this field include: licensed social worker, clinical manager, and counselor.

There are twenty-one schools of higher education in the Tucson area, including one within twenty-five miles of Tucson where you can get a degree to start your career as a substance abuse specialist. Substance abuse specialists usually hold a Master's degree, so it will take about six years to learn to be a substance abuse specialist if you already have a high school diploma, or just 2 years starting with a Bachelor's degree.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Substance Abuse Specialist

Substance Abuse Specialist video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, substance abuse specialists counsel and advise individuals with alcohol, tobacco, or other problems, such as gambling and eating disorders. They also may counsel individuals, families, or groups or engage in prevention programs.

Substance abuse specialists attend training sessions to increase knowledge and skills. They also participate in case conferences and staff meetings. Equally important, substance abuse specialists have to furnish clients or family members with data related to addiction issues and about available services and programs, making appropriate referrals when needed. They are often called upon to counsel clients and patients, individually and in group sessions, to help in overcoming dependencies, adjusting to life, and making changes. They are expected to intervene as an advocate for clients or patients to deal with emergency problems in crisis situations. Finally, substance abuse specialists direct efforts with courts, probation officers, community services and other post-treatment agencies.

Every day, substance abuse specialists are expected to be able to articulate ideas and problems. It is also important that they listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for substance abuse specialists to act as liaisons between clients and medical staff. They are often called upon to conduct chemical dependency program orientation sessions. They also formulate and implement follow-up and aftercare programs for clients to be discharged from treatment programs. They are sometimes expected to instruct others in program methods and functions. Somewhat less frequently, substance abuse specialists are also expected to participate in case conferences and staff meetings.

and complete and maintain accurate records and reports regarding the patients' histories and progress and other required data. And finally, they sometimes have to direct efforts with courts, probation officers, community services and other post-treatment agencies.

Like many other jobs, substance abuse specialists must have exceptional integrity and have a strong concern for others.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Tucson include:

  • Career Advisor. Counsel individuals and provide group educational and vocational guidance services.
  • Health Education Specialist. Promote, maintain, and improve individual and community health by assisting individuals and communities to adopt healthy behaviors. Collect and analyze data to identify community needs prior to planning, implementing, and evaluating programs designed to encourage healthy lifestyles, policies and environments. May also serve as a resource to assist individuals, other professionals, or the community, and may administer fiscal resources for health education programs.
  • Mental Health Counselor. Counsel with emphasis on prevention. Work with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental health. May help individuals deal with addictions and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; suicide; stress management; problems with self-esteem; and issues associated with aging and mental and emotional health.
  • Rehabilitation Counselor. Counsel individuals to maximize the independence and employability of persons coping with personal, social, and vocational difficulties that result from birth defects, illness, or the stress of daily life. Coordinate activities for residents of care and treatment facilities. Assess client needs and design and implement rehabilitation programs that may include personal and vocational counseling, training, and job placement.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Substance Abuse Specialist Training

Pima Community College - Tucson, AZ

Pima Community College, 401 North Bonita Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85709-5000. Pima Community College is a large college located in Tucson, Arizona. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 30,529 students. Pima Community College has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Clinical/Medical Social Work which graduated fourteen and twenty-two students respectively in 2008.


Distance Credentialed counselor: A Distance Credentialed Counselor (DCC) will be nationally recognized as a professional with training in best practices in Distance Counseling.

For more information, see the Center for Credentialing & Education, Inc. website.

Certified AODA Counselor: Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse Counselor is one of the five reciprocal certifications offered through IC&RC.

For more information, see the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse, Inc. website.

ServSafe Alcohol: The ServSafe Alcohol program outlines effective responsible alcohol service practices for all front-of-the-house staff, including bartenders, waiters, hosts, busers, security and valets.

For more information, see the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation website.


Tucson, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona photo by Howcheng

Tucson is situated in Pima County, Arizona. It has a population of over 541,811, which has grown by 11.3% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Tucson, 88, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Tucson are priced at $179,100 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, five hundred sixty-five new homes were built in Tucson, down from 1,131 the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Tucson are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, accommodation and food services, and educational services. The average commute to work is about 22 minutes. More than 22.9% of Tucson residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 9.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Tucson is 9.2%, which is less than Arizona's average of 9.3%.

The percentage of Tucson residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 44.9%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the LDS (Mormon) Church.

Tucson is home to the Arizona Correctional Training Facility and the Silverbell Golf Course as well as Vista del Pueblo Park and Verde Meadows Park. Shopping centers in the area include Gaslight Square Shopping Center, Grant Park Shopping Center and Grant Plaza South Shopping Center. Visitors to Tucson can choose from LA Quinta, Casa Tierra Adobe B & B Inn and Best Western Executive Inn for temporary stays in the area.