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Career and Education Opportunities for Substance Abuse Specialists in Ontario, California

There are many career and education opportunities for substance abuse specialists in the Ontario, California area. About 9,600 people are currently employed as substance abuse specialists in California. By 2016, this is expected to grow 35% to 13,000 people employed. 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. Substance abuse specialists generally counsel and advise individuals with alcohol, tobacco, or other problems, such as gambling and eating disorders.

Substance abuse specialists earn about $15 per hour or $32,660 yearly on average in California and about $17 hourly or $37,030 annually on average nationally. Incomes for substance abuse specialists are not quite as good as in the overall category of Counseling and Therapy in California, and not quite as good as the overall Counseling and Therapy category nationally. Substance abuse specialists work in a variety of jobs, including: alcoholic counselor, licensed professional counselor , and primary substance abuse counselor.

The Ontario area is home to twenty-two schools of higher education, including one within twenty-five miles of Ontario where you can get a degree as a substance abuse specialist. The most common level of education for substance abuse specialists is a Master's degree. You can expect to spend about six years studying to be a substance abuse specialist if you already have a high school diploma, or just 2 years if you have 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 Ontario include:

  • Career Advisor. Counsel individuals and provide group educational and vocational guidance services.
  • Child and Family Services Worker. Provide social services and assistance to improve the social and psychological functioning of children and their families and to maximize the family well-being and the academic functioning of children. May assist single parents, arrange adoptions, and find foster homes for abandoned or abused children. In schools, they address such problems as teenage pregnancy, misbehavior, and truancy. May also advise teachers on how to deal with problem children.
  • 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.
  • Marriage and Family Therapist. Diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, whether cognitive, or behavioral, within the context of marriage and family systems. Apply psychotherapeutic and family systems theories and techniques in the delivery of professional services to individuals, couples, and families for the purpose of treating such diagnosed nervous and mental disorders.
  • 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.
  • Social Services Assistant. Assist professionals from a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, or social work, to provide client services, as well as support for families. May assist clients in identifying available benefits and social and community services and help clients obtain them. May assist social workers with developing, organizing, and conducting programs to prevent and resolve problems relevant to substance abuse, human relationships, or adult daycare.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Substance Abuse Specialist Training

Loma Linda University - Loma Linda, CA

Loma Linda University, , Loma Linda, CA 92350. Loma Linda University is a small university located in Loma Linda, California. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 4,115 students. Loma Linda University has 3 areas of study related to Substance Abuse Specialist. They are:

  • Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling, postbaccalaureate certificate which graduated 3 students in 2008.
  • Clinical/Medical Social Work, doctor's degree.
  • Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties, postbaccalaureate certificate which graduated 6 students 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.


Ontario, California
Ontario, California photo by Sfan00_IMG

Ontario is situated in San Bernardino County, California. It has a population of over 171,691, which has grown by 8.7% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Ontario, 127, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in Ontario are priced at $164,100 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, eight new homes were constructed in Ontario, down from three hundred seven the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Ontario are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, administrative and support and waste management services, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 31 minutes. More than 10.5% of Ontario residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 2.7%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Ontario is 14.9%, which is greater than California's average of 12.3%.

The percentage of Ontario residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 42.0%, is less than both the national and state average. Kingdom Hall of Jehovahs Witnesses, Country Church of Ontario and Grace Missionary Baptist Church are all churches located in Ontario. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the LDS (Mormon) Church.

Ontario is home to the Ontario Motor Speedway and the West End Multi-Service Center as well as Del Rancho Park and Unity Park. Shopping malls in the area include Galvin Park Shopping Center, Vineyard Freeway Shopping Center and Ontario Vineyard Marketplace Shopping Center. Visitors to Ontario can choose from Best Western Ontario, Best Western Ontario Airport and Amerisuites Ontario Mills for temporary stays in the area.