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Career and Education Opportunities for Substance Abuse Specialists in Las Vegas, Nevada

There are many career and education opportunities for substance abuse specialists in the Las Vegas, Nevada area. There are currently 320 working substance abuse specialists in Nevada; this should grow 39% to about 450 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. Substance abuse specialists generally 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 $18 hourly or $38,240 per year on average in Nevada and about $17 per hour or $37,030 annually on average in the U.S. as a whole. Earnings for substance abuse specialists are not quite as good as earnings in the general category of Counseling and Therapy in Nevada and not quite as good as general Counseling and Therapy category earnings nationally. Substance abuse specialists work in a variety of jobs, including: prevention specialist, psychiatric social worker, and licensed social worker.

There are nineteen schools of higher education in the Las Vegas area, including one within twenty-five miles of Las Vegas where you can get a degree to start your career as a substance abuse specialist. Given that the most common education level 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 Las Vegas 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.
  • 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.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Substance Abuse Specialist Training

University of Nevada-Las Vegas - Las Vegas, NV

University of Nevada-Las Vegas, 4505 S Maryland Pky, Las Vegas, NV 89154. University of Nevada-Las Vegas is a large university located in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 28,618 students and an admission rate of 73%. University of Nevada-Las Vegas has a post-master's certificate program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling which graduated two 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.


Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor

Phone: (775) 884-8922
Website: Board of Examiners for Alcohol, Drug and Gambling Counselors

Problem Gambling Counselor

Phone: (775) 884-8922
Website: Board of Examiners for Alcohol, Drug and Gambling Counselors


Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada photo by Lasvegaslover

Las Vegas is located in Clark County, Nevada. It has a population of over 558,383, which has grown by 16.7% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Las Vegas, 91, is below the national average. New single-family homes in Las Vegas are priced at $111,300 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, 1,085 new homes were constructed in Las Vegas, down from 2,356 the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Las Vegas are accommodation and food services, arts, entertainment, and recreation, and health care. For men, it is construction, accommodation and food services, and arts, entertainment, and recreation. The average commute to work is about 25 minutes. More than 18.2% of Las Vegas residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 6.5%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Las Vegas is 13.3%, which is greater than Nevada's average of 12.6%.

The percentage of Las Vegas residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 36.2%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Southern Baptist Convention.

Las Vegas is home to the Tule Springs and the Union Pacific Station as well as Jaycee Park and Dexter Park. Shopping centers in the area include Spanish Oaks Shopping Center, Wonderland East Shopping Center and Shadow Hills Shopping Center. Visitors to Las Vegas can choose from Doubletree Club Las Vegas, The Las Vegas Gambler and MGM Grand Hotel Casino-The City of Entertainment - Human Resources for temporary stays in the area.